METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints defensive backs Stan Jean-Baptiste and Corey White both admitted to feeling frustrated and somewhat lost by the end of the 2014 season, not sure exactly what plans the team has in store for them.
White, a third-year pro, called his season a “roller coaster” after he won the nickel job in training camp, then got promoted to a starting role in Week 3. He later got bumped back to the nickel role, was benched for a week, then was switched to safety late in the season.
Jean-Baptiste, meanwhile, had the opposite experience. The rookie second-round draft pick barely ever saw the field. He was inactive for 12 games, and the Saints promoted an undrafted rookie (Brian Dixon) and a practice-squad player (Terrence Frederick) ahead of him.
Both are hoping for a fresh start now that the calendar has shifted to 2015.
“It’s been a roller coaster for me, a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Inactive for the first time in my career,” White said Monday. “That’s the most frustrating part for me in the offseason, just not knowing. ‘Am I playing well enough?’ Things like that. ...
“We go into the offseason with questions about Rob [Ryan] being back, our defense being awful, I don’t know what position I’m playing. There’s all this going on. But you only can control what you can control.”
White’s low point came when he tried to jump a route against Detroit’s Golden Tate in Week 7, which allowed Tate to turn a short pass into a 73-yard touchdown late in the game. White bounced back with interceptions in each of the next two weeks in wins over Green Bay and Carolina.
But that type of turbulence continued. The Saints decided to switch White back to safety -- the position he played in college at Samford -- during their Week 15 secondary shakeup.
“I always look at each change as a stepping stone going forward. I don’t think it’s a demotion to where I’m not gonna play again or anything like that. I just gotta try to get better, and if that’s what they want me to do, that’s what I gotta do,” White said of the position switch -- though he also told The Times-Picayune that he hasn’t talked to anyone yet about what position he’s expected to play next year and he’s “just out here floating.”
“Anytime you do a lot of those changes during the season, trying to find out what's going to work, what's not going to work, it's frustrating," White told The Times-Picayune. "The last thing you want to do is kill a player's confidence. But it is what it is."
Jean-Baptiste, meanwhile, told The New Orleans Advocate a few weeks ago that he’s “feeling lost” -- also not knowing exactly what the team had planned for him.
Jean-Baptiste amended that statement a bit Monday, saying, “I ain’t really lost, I just don’t know what’s going on ... as far as what the coaches are thinking. I can’t do nothing about it. Just sitting back and waiting on my time.”
Jean-Baptiste said the coaches did talk to him around the time of that Week 15 secondary shakeup (when they promoted Frederick to a starting job and temporarily demoted veterans Kenny Vaccaro, Patrick Robinson and White).
“They spoke to me then, telling me keep my head up, they got plans for me, the things that’s going on in practice ain’t going unnoticed. Stuff like that,” said Jean-Baptiste, a former receiver in college who the Saints have always described as a raw, long-term project.
Coach Sean Payton and Ryan reiterated in recent weeks that their vision for Jean-Baptiste was always that it would take time for him to develop, and they still remain high on his potential.
Jean-Baptiste, a long and lanky corner at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, said he feels like he’ll be further along in 2015 than he was as a rookie.
“Me playing or not playing, the mindset I got, I always feel that I’m going to be a significant player no matter when I get on the field. If it’s next year -- I feel it should have been this year -- next year or whenever, I’m going to be ready,” said Jean-Baptiste, who said his vision going forward is to, “Just come in and trying to change whatever it was that was keeping me back this year. I’ll try to get more playing time, hopefully become a starter and help this team win some games.”