Within a span of two or three minutes Friday, Warren mentioned three of the talking points that coaches probably love to hear: He knows special teams are his top priority. He knows he needs to keep studying the playbook. And he knows he needs to come out and prove himself every day, despite the fact he’s been making a ton of big plays early in training camp.
“Every day my back’s against the wall. I gotta make a play. I feel like I’ve got to do something to stand out from everybody else,” said the former Jacksonville State standout, who has certainly been accomplishing that goal so far.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder has consistently turned heads, with a diving interception the other day, a forced fumble last week and a series of impressive pass break-ups -- the latest in the end zone on Friday.
“He has pretty good football instincts,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “For a lot of these guys, for their ability to pick things up and then take it to the field, especially with where we are at now in our first week of camp, it really helps them. The guys that struggle sometimes are the guys that aren’t 100 percent sure of what to do. I think that has helped him.”
But Warren has also obviously been listening to coaches like Payton, who tells young players all the time that special teams is their path to the 53-man roster.
“It’s been good, but I still have to start with special teams first, because we are stacked at safety,” Warren said. “That’s the main goal.”
Warren said he played special teams during his first two seasons at Jacksonville State. And he’s trying to crack all of the special teams units in New Orleans. He’s been working as a wing on punt coverage and a front-line blocker on kickoffs, among other duties.
Warren led the Gamecocks last year with five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and ranked second on the team with 76 tackles. He then decided to turn pro before his senior season, even though he knew there was a possibility he wouldn’t be drafted.
When asked why, Warren simply said, “I just felt like it was time.”
Warren said he chose the Saints because they were the first team to call after the draft and he knew they liked to suit up a lot of safeties.
“I figured there was a possibility I wouldn’t get drafted because I was coming from a D-1 AA (school) and I left early as well,” Warren said. “But I was just praying for an opportunity, and it happened.”