Garrett Grayson isn’t just thinking about what the defense is going to do or how his receiver is going to run a certain route or which reads to make when he steps into the huddle.
Right now, his biggest concern is being able to accurately direct the other 10 men in the huddle.
It isn’t always easy. At Colorado State, Grayson never made a play call longer than eight words. In New Orleans, some of his calls are as long as 16 words.
That has been the hardest part of adjusting to the NFL so far.
“You obviously get to learn listening to Drew (Brees), Luke (McCown), Ryan (Griffin), and they just go in there and spit these plays out,” Grayson said. “I’m sitting back there thinking, ‘Holy cow, what did they just say?’ It’s just part of the process.”
There have been times when Grayson has stumbled through the calls and had to start over to get it right. But it is part of the process.
He’s supposed to stumble, pick himself up and try again.
The third-round pick has the luxury of time. Barring a major injury, he likely won’t see the field — if he ever does in New Orleans — for at least two seasons. Brees has that covered. Grayson’s job is to learn as much as he can, prepare for the future and compete for the backup job.
So far, Grayson feels like he’s on the right track. The speed of the game in organized team activities haven’t been too much to handle, and many of the concepts in the playbook are similar to what he used in college. The only things he has had issues with at times is calling plays and making the right reads.
“When the safety buzzes down and does whatever he does and changes up a read,” Grayson said. “Just getting things like that correct.”
Grayson was not at the first organized team activity open to the media since he was required to attend the NFLPA Rookie Premiere. He was on the field Thursday and completed 3 of 5 passes. One thing that stood out is that the elongated throwing motion he featured during his senior season was considerably tighter.
Many pointed to his mechanics as a major area of concern leading up to the draft, and some online scouting services believed his mechanics would have to be torn down and rebuilt. But Grayson said the motion was the result of playing through a shoulder injury that has since healed.
“It felt better to throw with a full windup,” Grayson told The Advocate at a recent community event. “That was something I tried to tell them — to go back and look at sophomore and junior film, my release isn’t that way. That’s something I try to harp on as much as I can to prove my point.”
One thing Grayson is enjoying about his new job is that his life is now entirely about football. He didn’t enjoy school much growing up, so being able to hang around the practice facility all day has been a source of enjoyment.
Quarterbacks coach Mike Neu picks him up every morning so they can start their day with a film session. Once they wrap up, Grayson hangs out in the locker room and sees what Brees is doing that day. The quarterbacks then go to the indoor training facility around 7:15 each morning to work out before that day’s activities.
One of the things Grayson has noticed about Brees is how regimented his days are. He has a routine and sticks to it. That’s something the rookie wants to acquire for himself.
Grayson also has been spending a lot of time trying to keep up with the offensive installs that seem to come about every two days.
“I feel like I get comfortable with one thing, and I got more plays thrown at me,” he said. “The pace is quick, and you just got to learn it and know as much as you can.”
Grayson should have plenty of time now and over the next few seasons to get everything down behind the scenes. But he could end up on an accelerated path if he proves he’s ready.
Grayson could spend this season as the third quarterback on the depth chart behind either McCown or Griffin, but that decision hasn’t been made.
“We’re not redshirting anyone right now, so I wouldn’t want to put a ceiling or a bottom on him,” coach Sean Payton said. “He is competing right now to improve and then, as we move into this, I think that we wouldn’t be doing ourselves justice if we just said right now our vision in this first month being here is this.”
And, really, that’s the approach the Saints will continue to take with Grayson well into the future. They’ll let his ability to adjust and grow determine what the ultimate vision becomes.