Saints not sure what they have yet in second-year QB Garrett Grayson

METAIRIE, La. -- When the New Orleans Saints kicked the tires on several quarterback prospects before this year’s draft, everyone wanted to know what it meant for second-year QB Garrett Grayson.

But that’s a question that even the Saints themselves aren’t prepared to answer yet.

Saints coach Sean Payton said last week that Grayson had one of his best practices to date during the team’s second OTA session on Tuesday. But Payton said it’s far too early for the team to gauge what kind of player he’ll become.

“We’ll see. I think the preseason will be important this year (to) get a good evaluation of how he’s doing,” Payton said. “He’s been real attentive. He’s in good shape. And I think the biggest thing is just the mental element of the process happening quicker and him knowing where to go and not spending so much time worrying on how to call it.”

Grayson essentially redshirted last season as the No. 3 quarterback after New Orleans drafted him in the third round out of Colorado State. That meant he wasn’t even running the scout team in practice during the regular season, settling instead for “mental reps.”

Before that, Grayson was admittedly swimming in the playbook last summer. He said he struggled to maintain his confidence in the huddle while trying to spit out the lengthy play-calls.

“It’s a night-and-day difference,” Grayson said of his second offseason -- a popular sentiment among many second-year pros in the NFL.

But Grayson said he, too, will be using this summer to gauge his own development.

“I think everyone, including myself, wants to see (me) kind of take that next step in Year 2,” Grayson said. “Just be confident in everything I do. Take command of the guys.

“That was something I don’t know if I necessarily did the right way last year, because I didn’t really know the offense that well. So I don’t want to say I was timid, but I wasn’t really commanding guys as you should as a QB.”

Grayson will have a hard time beating out veteran Luke McCown for the primary backup job this season. The Saints re-signed McCown to a two-year deal that included a pay raise to $1.5 million per year after he performed well in a Week 3 spot start in place of Drew Brees last season.

Grayson did get to spend a couple weeks as New Orleans’ No. 2 QB in practice last year because of injuries to Brees and McCown (the Saints signed veteran Matt Flynn to replace McCown late in the season).

But Grayson insisted his rookie season was valuable, even though he spent most of it watching and learning.

“Taking that year and kind of learning how Drew handled everything, seeing his film study, how he went about his daily work (helped),” Grayson said. “And now getting some extra reps, it’s been big for me to just take more command of the guys and just be confident and know that they can see the confidence come out in me.”