The New Orleans Saints are turning up the intensity of the competition for the team's third wide receiver, an already sizzling race to see who will serve as the complement to Marques Colston and Lance Moore.
The pool of candidates seemed deep, with young guns Kenny Stills, Preston Parker, Andy Tanner and Nick Toon all delivering impressive performances as of late.
The Saints have now added a 9-year veteran into the mix: Patrick Crayton, who was drafted by the Cowboys in the 7th Round in 2004. The 34-year-old last played for the San Diego Chargers in 2011.
"What helps me is my mental knowledge of the game," Crayton said. "That's the edge I have over some of the young guys. They're still trying to get used to what it takes to be a professional. I'm a decade in, so it helps."
Crayton says this is the only call he's received lately, after sitting out last season. He's spent his time training on his own, being a father to his two children and opening several businesses, including a few restaurants with former teammates.
Monday morning, wearing number 86 and sweating underneath the New Orleans sun with the rest of the hopefuls trying to make the Saints 53-man roster, Crayton felt he was in remarkably recognizable territory.
"I think it'll be good. Like they say, you never realize how many people you've met over the years until you get here," Crayton said. "I'm like 'I didn't know you were here, I didn't know you were here,' so it's good to see familiar faces."
One of those familiar faces is head coach Sean Payton, who was with the Cowboys when Crayton arrived in Dallas.
"He's still the same to me. He's still that hard nosed coach that I think he was underneath Bill (Parcells)," Crayton said. "Now he's the head guy. He's kind of bringing a little edge to it himself, so it's good. I love him because he doesn't sugarcoat."
Payton is a coach who believes sometimes a change of scenery can revitalize a career, and he's willing to give Crayton a shot.
"He is a person that I am familiar with and a guy that we feel can help us and give us a chance to evaluate," Payton said.
Crayton is now trying to make up for what he missed during OTA's and the first week of training camp.
The Saints take on the Oakland Raiders Friday night in the Super Dome, and Crayton intends to be ready to state his case, regardless of his age.
"I'm Paw Paw," Crayton smiled. "Don't tell the young guys that because I can still run circles around them, but I'm Paw Paw."
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