After remarkable rise, Saints' Delvin Breaux not stopping to enjoy the view

Delvin Breaux is pointed toward bigger and better things after exploding on the scene last season. Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

METAIRIE, La. -- Cornerback Delvin Breaux made a nice play on the ball during a recent practice -- something that has become awfully routine around New Orleans Saints camp.

Soon afterward, general manager Mickey Loomis approached him.

“He was like, ‘Hey, man, do you know where you was at last year?’” Breaux recalled. “I was like, ‘No, where?’ And he was like, ‘You was the guy trying to make this team. Nobody knew who you were. So you had to come out and prove yourself.’

“And I was like, ‘I sure was.’ ... Man, it feels great.”

Of course, Breaux didn’t really need that reminder.

His remarkable rise to the Saints’ No. 1 cornerback spot last season -- nine years after he broke three vertebrae in his neck during a high school game -- was one of the best stories in the NFL.

Unable to play college football, Breaux had to climb his way back through semi-pro football, arena football and the Canadian Football League.

But Breaux said he hadn’t really thought about where he was at this time one year ago, because he’s still going out there every day trying to prove himself, just like he was then.

“My humble ways,” Breaux said. “I go out there and I just thank God for giving me this opportunity, man. And I just go out there and practice like it’s game day.”

When players break out like Breaux did in 2015, there can be a threat of a letdown or “sophomore slump.” (For example, see pretty much the entire Saints defense in 2014).

But Breaux and those around him are confident that he’ll keep building on his success because of both his immense talent and attitude.

“You look at his background and where he’s come from and what he’s had to overcome to get in this position, you know, he doesn’t take anything for granted,” Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “I think that’s why he was able to have some success last year. And I think that’s why his personality and the type of person he is hasn’t changed.”

Breaux, 26, wasn’t just lauded for his incredible comeback journey. The 6-foot-1, 196-pounder was equally praised for being a stellar cornerback.

The Saints routinely matched him up against opponents’ top receivers, and scouting services such as Pro Football Focus rated him among the best in the NFL at his position last season.

“I think he’s got a unique skill set. He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got quickness. And he’s strong, so he’s able to match up vs. some of the bigger receivers, and he doesn’t get out-muscled,” Allen said. “So I think when you combine all those attributes with his work ethic and his desire to improve, I think that’s where you see a good football player.”

Not that Breaux was ever lacking confidence, but Allen said he sees even more in Breaux this year, now that he has proven to himself and others what he is capable of in the NFL.

“Sean [Payton] says this all the time, confidence is born of demonstrated ability,’” Allen said. “He demonstrated last year that he belongs in this league. So it’s kind of given him a little sense of confidence, but yet, I think he still feels like there’s more meat left on the bone for him to get better.”