Travin Dural finds himself in a tough position heading into his second season with the New Orleans Saints.
Dural, the former LSU and Breaux Bridge player, spent all of his rookie year on the practice squad, absorbing the Saints offense while working behind a talented group of experienced wide receivers.
Now, Dural finds himself preparing to fight for a roster spot in a receiver room that has only gotten more crowded since the end of the season. New Orleans might have allowed Willie Snead to sign with Baltimore, but the Saints added free agent Cameron Meredith and third-rounder Tre'Quan Smith to a group that brings back Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon Coleman, Tommylee Lewis and Austin Carr.
Dural, who signed with the Saints immediately after going unselected in the 2017 draft, caught four passes for 56 yards in the preseason in August, then signed on to the practice squad shortly after cuts were made at the end of training camp.
The 10 names that make up the practice squad are constantly changing; Dural was one of the few who stuck around all season.
Now, as he gets ready for his second NFL training camp, he's carrying all of that experience with him.
"Knowing what's going on, knowing the system, knowing what's expected," Dural said. "Typical stuff. You figure it out from the first year to the second, and of course, my body's in better shape."
Fully understanding a Saints offense that is full of nuance and decision-making is often the first step to a game-day appearance. Snead and Coleman got their starts in New Orleans on the practice squad before emerging as contributors.
Dural said he feels like he's got a good grasp on Sean Payton's scheme now.
"Once you get that confidence that you know what's going on and you know what to do, you play a lot better," Dural said. "You play a lot faster. I think that's where I'm at."
The hard part for Dural is the depth of the receiver room. Thomas, Ginn, Coleman, Lewis and Carr have all taken snaps in games for the Saints; Meredith and Smith required sizable investment.
Dural paid attention to the Saints' moves during the offseason, but he says he wasn't watching to scout the competition.
"Of course, I need to know who's in the room with me," Dural said. "We're around each other every day."
Dural is also aware that catching passes might not be his only route to suiting up for the first regular-season NFL game of his career. The Saints typically carry a handful of players on the 53-man roster for their roles on special teams, and if Dural can be a force in the kicking game, he makes his case that much harder to ignore.
He has the right attitude. No matter the odds, Dural plans to do whatever he can to win a roster spot.
"I'm just here to do the best I can," Dural said. "Whether it's out here catching balls or on special teams, I'm just here to show what I've got."