Saints star Marshon Lattimore 'trying to become a legend'

METAIRIE, La. -- Marshon Lattimore still has eight teams on his list.

It's hard to believe the New Orleans Saints cornerback can find any doubters left to motivate him after a sensational rookie season that earned him the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, landed him in the Pro Bowl and helped lead the Saints to the NFC South title.

But he insisted they're still out there.

"Just little Twitter people," Lattimore said as he cracked a wry smile.

Plus, he said he still has plans to personally make eight more teams pay for passing on him in last year's draft.

"I got the Jets last year and the Bears," said Lattimore, who surprisingly fell to New Orleans with the 11th overall pick because of concerns about hamstring injuries he suffered early in his career at Ohio State. "I gotta get every team that passed on me -- I gotta get a pick."

If you're keeping score at home, that means Lattimore still plans to snag interceptions from the Browns, 49ers, Jaguars, Titans, Chargers, Panthers, Bengals and Chiefs. And for that matter, he should probably throw in the Bills, too, since they traded down from No. 10.

But Lattimore doesn't need revenge or doubt to motivate him. His own goals are plenty high.

"I'm trying to become a legend, year in and year out," said Lattimore, who finished last season with five interceptions while routinely being matched up against the opponent's top receiver. "I'm trying to build on everything I did last year. I'm trying to be 10 times better than what I was last year. Then next year I want to be 10 times better than I was this year."

Lattimore insisted he won't let last season's accolades get to his head -- echoing what Saints running back and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara said recently.

Lattimore said that attitude comes from his father, who always taught him to stay humble.

But the confidence is there, too, as Lattimore showed when he was asked about the highlight catches by Saints Pro Bowl receiver and former Ohio State teammate Michael Thomas against him during Thursday's practice session.

"Today was his first day -- he showed out for the cameras," Lattimore said, referring to the fact the media is allowed to watch only one practice session per week during organized team activities. "Mike is a great player. I don't take nothing away from him -- that's my dog. But any little competition, battles we have, man, it's always great. We don't take it personally. He's gonna get me sometimes, I'm gonna get him sometimes.

"But he kind of tried to show out a little bit for the cameras."

What a luxury the Saints have, with one of the game's top young receivers and top young cornerbacks going head-to-head in practice every day.

Lattimore said he also likes to go against veteran Ted Ginn Jr. -- one of the NFL's fastest receivers -- in one-on-one drills as often as possible to keep sharpening his skills. And oh, by the way, he's also facing quarterback Drew Brees every day.

"There's a lot of times where Mike's going against Marshon, and you know those are both competitive guys," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I think that competition helps them both. Obviously it elevates their play."

Lattimore said his offseason got off to a slow start because he spent time resting the ankle injury that he had to fight through last season. So he watched a lot of film when he was laid up. He added that the mental part of the game has been his biggest area of growth over the past year.

"Now I'm the one making some calls and learning all the little details," said Lattimore, who has learned nuances like understanding where his teammates will be and how to adjust to what offenses are doing from play to play. "Last year I didn't really know much. I had to learn every game, learn a little more. But now I have a whole year of being in it, so I know a lot more.

"I love it. I love getting better mentally."

Lattimore started only one full season at Ohio State because of the hamstring issues, and he just turned 22 on May 20. So he's still growing.

Let that be a warning to all the teams that didn't land him in the draft.