We’re less than two weeks away from the start of New Orleans Saints training camp.
Can you feel the excitement building? I know I can. While we continue to preview the positions for the New Orleans Saints, we also start a series that will look at some of the top players to watch at training camp. The list is based on criteria more along the lines of competition, growth, impact, and overall expectations, not necessarily popularity.
Today’s focus is around second-year quarterback Garrett Grayson, who has a lot to prove in a very short amount of time.
When the Saints re-signed Luke McCown in March, the skeptics came out again for the 2015 third-round pick out of Colorado State. The wide belief was that the Saints should have targeted a quarterback in the draft, especially with reported visits of Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, and others. This led to the big question: Why did Garrett Grayson keep getting snubbed?
As much as anyone doesn’t want to realistically come to terms with the Saints and Drew Brees parting ways when that may happen, why is it that we’re so eager to get the replacement now? Yes, you want to see progress. You expect to. You want to feel comfortable with the backup plan. After all, we can’t forget about former incumbents like Ryan Griffin and Chase Daniel. Both of those backups progressed under Brees, Joe Lombardi (also Mike Neu for 2014), and Sean Payton tutelage.
Grayson’s bout with minicamp and OTAs was a very mixed bag, which wasn’t exactly encouraging. It was very hit or miss, according to reports. Needless to say, the next two months are important for Grayson. His work ethic shouldn’t be questioned, as The Advocate’s Nick Underhill put it in December on his preparation for games.
"He’ll watch and mimic how Brees goes through the reads, leads the huddle and calls plays. Grayson joked that the veteran quarterback probably isn’t aware of how closely he’s being studied, but watching Brees and putting himself through mental reps is how the rookie quarterback is growing this season."
What we all need to remember is the reality of the situation. Until we truly see what type of maturation and growth Garrett Grayson has undergone year over year, and more importantly in real game situations and not training camp, then judgement can’t totally be passed. Grayson has a very talented, but young group of receivers to work with this season.
As Jon Gruden pointed out in April in a teleconference with the media, only Sean Payton knows whether Grayson is growing or not.
"“Sean and I have worked together in the past and I know that he never has enough of those guys,” Gruden said. “They have so much of the quarterback in that system of football they’re always going to be on the lookout. And only he can answer that. He’s the one that knows how well Grayson has performed over the last year.”"
The bottom line is that Grayson is in a prime position to take over as the team’s primary backup, but like last season, he’ll have to win the job. As he’s told the media, he’s not satisfied with being third-string, and that’s at least encouraging.