New Orleans spent the offseason trying to upgrade the cornerback position by any means necessary.

Bringing in Delvin Breaux has paid bigger dividends than anybody could have imagined.

Breaux, forced into the starting lineup right away by a preseason injury to Keenan Lewis, is establishing himself as arguably the Saints’ No. 1 corner, a player New Orleans is handing more responsibility with each passing week.

“Delvin Breaux is playing his heart out,” Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “We’ve given him some tough matchups, and he’s done a great job.”

Breaux has broken up five passes, made the first interception of his career against the Eagles, and he’s been so good that other team’s No. 1 receivers have rarely put up big numbers against the Saints, even though the defense has struggled overall.

The first-year corner’s physical style has led to too many penalties — he’s been flagged seven times — but the rest of his play has been so good that the Saints are giving him more and more responsibility each week.

“We’ve had him a lot of times where he has had absolutely no help.,” Ryan said. “He is on a receiver with absolutely no help, which some people don’t see by the coverage or whatever it is, and he has excelled. He is up for all of the challenges.”

Breaux relishes the role.

“That’s my game. I like 1-on-1, mano e mano, me vs. you,” Breaux said. “All corners want to be that island.”

Breaux has been so good that he will likely continue to man the outside once Keenan Lewis returns to full strength. Lewis has played 29.7 percent of the snaps the past two weeks, and when he enters the game, Breaux stays on the outside, with Brandon Browner moving inside to play coverage underneath.

Breaux’s rise up the depth chart has been meteoric, a lot like his journey from the semipro ranks to the CFL and a role with the Saints. When the Saints opened offseason practices in May, New Orleans envisioned Breaux as a player who could provide depth behind Lewis and Browner on the outside.

Now, Breaux’s play has made him such a cornerstone of the secondary that the Saints are handing their first-year corner the ultimate assignment.

“The fact that I’m starting to cover other teams’ No. 1 receiver and following them around, I think that says a lot,” Breaux said. “I just try to stay humble, just compete, study film a lot and make sure my job is secure at the end of the day.”