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John DeShazier: Thursday's game has real meaning for Saints QB Ryan Griffin

Posted Aug 26, 2014

He is expected to get extended playing time

There are those who will accuse Thursday’s preseason finale between the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as being little more than a glorified practice between backups, a game with no significance other than serving as a conclusion to the period of time that precedes the “real” season.

Those people perhaps should talk to Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has battled Luke McCown all offseason for the No. 2 position behind Drew Brees and, perhaps, for a roster spot, period.

Griffin will receive his most extensive playing time this preseason in his final opportunity to pad his resume and enhance his reputation with the Saints coaching staff.

“I think it’s another step in the process,” Griffin said. “For guys like me, first- and second-year guys, this is kind of our Super Bowl. This is our season right now. It’s a chance to go out and prove yourself and get better.”

In a similar situation last year, Griffin, then an undrafted rookie, completed 15 of 31 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, in three quarters of New Orleans’ 24-21 loss to the Dolphins in Miami.

That game, and his other preseason work, prompted the Saints to sign Griffin to the practice squad after the final cut, and then add him to the active roster after six games, when St. Louis attempted to sign him off the Saints' practice squad.

So he’s familiar with how much a final preseason game can mean, which is why he’s treating it as seriously as he is. Griffin has completed 37 of 55 passes this preseason for 404 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

“Just every game, I have the same emotions going out,” he said. “I’m very thankful to do what I do. Go enjoy it. I have a lot of fun playing the game.

“(I’m) never satisfied. There are a lot of good things that have gone on this preseason, but definitely never satisfied. I’ve got to continue to execute – that’s the big thing for me, going out there, relaxing and executing.

“My job is to show as much as I can and they’ll evaluate.”

He’ll get a good opportunity to show what he has, again.

“I think, most of all, we’re trying to make sure Ryan is getting a ton of work,” Coach Sean Payton said. “This past game (on the road against Indianapolis) is an example where we were, at halftime, way ahead of defense with regard to snaps. So we go into our offensive phases a little quicker than on defense because of the snaps.

“Ryan will get a ton of work this week. He’ll get a lot of work.”

The efficiency Griffin has exhibited has pushed McCown to be better.

“Yes, I hope that our room is an environment of pushing each other,” McCown said. “My hope is to push Drew every day. That’s the environment you want in a position room, a unit, so that you’re never just being status quo.

“It’s got to be better. Every day has got to be better and you’re always trying to be better than the next guy. I think that’s the kind of environment we’ve set up in our room.”

And it won’t allow for any consideration that the preseason finale isn’t just as important, if not more, than any other activity or game leading into the regular season.