Unlike a lot of the other first-round rookies around the NFL, Ryan Ramczyk didn't get to make a first impression in the Saints' preseason opener.
Rather than doing battle with the No. 1 pick, Cleveland's Myles Garrett – a battle that likely would have been highlighted nationally – Ramczyk was held out due to injury.
"Obviously, it sucks to miss time," Ramczyk said. "I did what I had to do, and I'm back now."
Ramczyk declined to reveal the nature of the injury that forced him to miss Thursday's game, but he appears to still be on track to play a key role for the Saints this season.
With Terron Armstead still working his way back from the torn shoulder labrum he suffered this summer, Ramczyk is taking more and more snaps with the starters every day.
"I don't know if there's enough time to say I've earned anything yet," Ramczyk said. "But I know there's not a ton of depth at that position, so I'm the next man up."
The rest of the Saints have taken notice. At least one of the other options at the position in case of emergency acknowledged Ramczyk's place in the pecking order on Sunday.
"If they need me to play there, I'll play," versatile offensive lineman Senio Kelemete said. "But I think Ramczyk is doing a pretty good job."
With Ramczyk out against Cleveland, veterans Khalif Barnes and Bryce Harris both had their hands full with Garrett.
For Ramczyk, the next crucial step in the process will come when the Saints take on the Chargers in joint practices this week. As well as he's played against teammates Hau'oli Kikaha and Alex Okafor, Ramczyk must prove he can handle a wide variety of pass rushers.
Upcoming practice showdowns with the Chargers' Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and the Texans' trio of J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney will be stiff tests.
"I've seen a fair amount of speed here and some power," Ramczyk said. "But getting the variety of it all – I think through this preseason I'll get a fair amount of it all – I think it's essential to feel out all the different moves."