WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Garrett Grayson’s first NFL training camp has been humbling so far, to say the least.
The third-round pick from Colorado State has spent most of his time fourth in the rotation, trying to catch up to the speed of an offense that’s ahead of him right now. Off the field, Grayson had to get out of his comfort zone, doing a rendition of R. Kelly’s “Ignition Remix” for the entire team.
And on Sunday, the song came back to bite him. After Grayson failed to break the huddle correctly, Saints coach Sean Payton told his rookie quarterback that he knows Grayson can rap, but he’s not sure how well the rookie can do anything else just yet.
“He didn’t like the break, so he made me come back and called me out,” Grayson said. “He said I can rap, so I guess that’s a good thing.”
Payton is tough on young quarterbacks, a technique he learned from Bill Parcells when the Cowboys brought up a young Tony Romo in Dallas.
“The quarterback position has to have thick skin,” Payton said. “I’ve seen that with Bill, the first time with Tony, his early years, and we’ll do the same with Garrett. The ship’s not waiting, it goes, and quickly, you’ve got to get up to speed with it.”
By his own admission, Grayson is still trying to catch up to an offense he spent an offseason studying.
“You’ve got some plays that are 18, 20 words long, so spitting it out correctly, getting in the right formation, everything, lining up correctly, and then playing fast,” Grayson said. “It’s something I tried to work on this summer when I was away, getting that play calling and getting out there, knowing what I’m doing so I can play instead of just thinking.”
Grayson is going through a few growing pains right now.
Four days into training camp, Grayson is 10-of-17 in team settings with a sack and an interception, a pick thrown Sunday when he rushed a screen to fellow rookie Marcus Murphy that went through Murphy’s hands and into the waiting arms of Henry Coley. Grayson is also still trying to get his steps down to hand off the ball correctly to the running back.
“I think that just comes with time, just knowing the offense,” Grayson said. “I felt that way my first year in college. Into my sophomore year, I wasn’t as comfortable. You get through your reads slower, you take a lot more sacks, your feet won’t be right.”
Grayson has gotten some help from the potential Hall of Famer playing in front of him.
In meeting rooms, Grayson is still a rookie, a youngster who’s in charge of getting Drew Brees and the rest of the quarterbacks water, sunflower seeds, playbooks and anything else they might need.
But Brees has also made sure Grayson knows it’s OK to make mistakes as he learns a complicated offense.
“The biggest thing with him, he’s told me so many times, just go out there and play,” Grayson said. “We’ll fix it in film. ... Just go play, have fun. Don’t think, just relax and enjoy it.”
The rest will come with time.