Offensive tackle Trevor Penning’s demeanor and nastiness as a player were considered to be good qualities when it came to evaluating him as a prospect, and certainly played into his selection at No. 19 overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 2022 NFL Draft. But this week, the Saints saw the downside to their new chippy player, as Penning was kicked out of practice after his third fight in three days.
A dust-up between Penning and defensive tackle Malcolm Roach on Wednesday was the last straw, and new head coach Dennis Allen sent both guys back to the locker room.
“We don’t have time for that,” Allen said, via ESPN. “I sent two guys in today and we’ve got to get our work done. We’ve got to learn as a team how to compete and how to play and how to practice and push ourselves to the limit but yet not take it over the edge.
“It’s not unusual for something like that to occur in training camp. It’s certainly something we don’t want to see happen. It’ll be addressed and we’ll move forward.”
The Northern Iowa product has been blocking to the echo of the whistle in training camp, which is a bit different. These training camp altercations serve their purpose in many ways, but at the same time, too many can get in the way of actual practice.
“It’s part of my game, I think. It’s just how I am as a player,” Penning said earlier this week. “But I’m obviously out there working technique. I’m trying to get better at the technique of the game, getting the blocks down. The finishing ability, that’s what I pride myself in, and that’s always going to be part of my game.”
Saints assistant general manager and director of college scouting Jeff Ireland has high hopes for the offensive lineman, as he compared Penning to former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long earlier this offseason. Penning was a 2021 finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented to the national offensive player of the year. He was the only offensive lineman to be named as a finalist. Penning was also named 2021 AP FCS All-American First Team, and 2021 MVFC All-Conference First Team.
Penning has the potential to be a long-term starter for the Saints, but he’s going to have to watch how he handles himself once New Orleans gets to the regular season.