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John DeShazier: Saints rookies Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara being thrown into the fire

Posted Aug 2, 2017

Both players expected to see the field early

There’s no time for a honeymoon period, and there are no players more pleased with that than New Orleans Saints rookies Ryan Ramczyk and Alvin Kamara.

Ramczyk, an offensive tackle and the second of the Saints’ two first-round picks (No. 32 overall), and Kamara, a running back and the team’s third-round pick (No. 67), were expected to factor into New Orleans’ offensive plans this season. But it appears that the prominence with which they could factor – especially Ramczyk – has increased as training camp has progressed at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

While Kamara figured into the equation as the Saints’ change-of-pace back behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson – and Kamara’s receiving skills, shiftiness and running ability have been as good or better than advertised – Ramczyk, who was drafted with the premise of apprenticing under Zach Strief at right tackle, has been given a chance to be the Saints’ season-opening starter at left tackle, due to Terron Armstead’s injury.

“It would mean a ton,” said Ramczyk, who played left tackle in college at Wisconsin. “I have a long way to go yet, there’s still a lot of stuff I need to do to secure that position, but that would definitely mean a lot.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect, how many reps I would be getting at (starter). But I’m happy with what it is right now.”

Ramczyk (6 feet 6, 314 pounds) said playing his collegiate position has helped his transition to the NFL.

“It felt a little bit more comfortable, just because that’s where I played in college,” he said. “I’m continuing to work here, and perfect that even more. Just have to continue to work on it.”

Kamara (5-10, 215) also has a chance to settle in as the primary player at his position. Ingram and Peterson also will factor into the passing game, but perhaps not as much as the versatile Tennessee rookie.

“Right now, every day is a learning opportunity, just trying to get more in tune and more comfortable with the play calls,” Kamara said. “That’s the main thing. Right when you think you know something, you’ve got to go back over it. So, just every day, continuing to go over what I think I know and continuing to learn and listen to the older guys.”

Among the veterans dispensing advice is quarterback Drew Brees, whom Kamara occasionally will be tasked with helping protect.

“You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to protect that man back there,” he said. “Can’t let anybody touch Drew, so I’m going to take pride in that, being able to stick my face in there.”

For each, the educational process is in accelerated mode, given that each possibly could have increased snap counts in the preseason to help ready him for the regular season.

“Keep the learning process going and just be ahead, so the curve isn’t as big as it would be,” Kamara said. “Trying to stay ahead of myself.

“Right now, I’m just grinding through it and grinding through it and trying to work and put as much on my plate as I can. So whatever the coaches feel like they can put on me, I’ll do it.”

Said Ramczyk: “As far as understanding the offense and executing what I’m supposed to be doing, I’m feeling really good about that.”

They’ll get a much clearer understanding of how much progress has been made, and how much more needs to be made, in the preseason opener against Cleveland on Aug. 10.

“I’m looking to it, putting pads on for the first time against another team,” Kamara said. “We’ve still got some days left to go and some work to do, so we’ve just got to keep putting days together.”

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