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Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is one of a kind for New Orleans Saints

'I'd rather be aggravating to the people that's not going to war with us every day'

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 8 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Likely, primarily dependent upon your affection or disdain for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, you will love or despise the fact that possibly, dozens more little Ceedy Duce's are being groomed in the New Orleans area.

CJGJ, a defensive back entering his third year with the Saints, is the teammate you love and the opponent you hate with a venom that sometimes can erupt in a shove, punch or stream of obscenities.

And he has poured himself into his seven-on-seven football teams – Team Ceedy 7x7 – that he coaches.

"I'd say, riding around the city of New Orleans, I saw the kids that are not impacted by the high school circuit," he said. "So I wanted to make an impact on the high school circuit to let kids know there's multiple ways than just doing the same thing, same routine. Developing them a routine, taking them on different trips so they can see that there are ways to actually get out besides going to high school and playing football."

Are the players wired like CJGJ?

"You've got to," he said. "(Saints coach) Sean (Payton) has got us wired like he's wired. I've got to have the same mentality when I teach them: Keeping it simple, not complex with a lot of things, don't throw too much at them. So I feel like the energy I bring on the field, I'm like, 'Coach lets me be who I am, you've got to be who you are while you're doing what you love.' I think that's what drives them the most."

Coach Ceedy, they call him, and he's ready to make just as big an impact on his NFL team. And he's rounding into form during training camp.

Not that he hasn't already. Gardner-Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2019, has been one of New Orleans' most versatile defensive chess pieces. In two seasons he has two interceptions, 21 passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a sack, 11 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and 115 tackles.

He calls himself the best slot corner in the NFL, although he'll assume any role he's asked to assume.

"Outside (corner), safety, linebacker, defensive end, running back, receiver, punt return, broadcaster, Twitter fingers, and Instagram sensation," he said.

But the slot corner role is one he loves.

"Playing with a group that's been together for so long, you fit into something that you feel like you're playing your role," he said. "I'm the best at my role. So I feel like when I go on the field I've got to do my job, and then everything else just flows. So I feel like when I do my job, nobody can stop it, and nobody can stop us as a whole."

The improvement came from using his ears, and will continue to come from using his ears.

"Listening," he said. "I've got to listen. I've got to listen a little bit more. I've got to do a little bit more listening. I've got to do a LOT more listening.

"(And) film, and understanding the knowledge of the game. Because the game slows down once you study it. So I just understand it like, if I put myself in a position where I can't get beat – as in knowing what's happening before it happens, knowing formations, trusting what you see – when you trust it and you're confident in what you know and what you see, you go after it. And after that you've got to play with that chip on your shoulder. And I think that's what gives me and the guys in the DB room a chip on our shoulder, because we trust what we see."

Ah, yes, the chip on the shoulder. The unique ability to crawl between an opponent's ears and trigger him to toss a blow (closed-fist or open-handed), or muscle up a shove, or say a few words that aren't appropriate to write.

It's simple, CJGJ said.

"I have this motto, 'All for one.' And all for one is like, you understand your brother personally," he said. "I figure out my teammates and then they try to figure me out. The bonds that you build on both sides. It's just understanding people.

"I'd rather be aggravating to the people that's not going to war with us every day, and not understanding our pain and why I'm doing what I'm doing. Because in reality, I'm just doing my job."

And so, he has made it an art form, to a degree.

"Yeah," he said. "Mental study. So this is what you do: I find out what they hate. Like in the game, you just watch it.

"I'll (study) the game, and I'll just see which receiver is doing the most complaining. So you just find it. You're going to find something that's going to keep popping up. If he's walking up to the ref every play, then guess what? I'm just going to keep nudging you. Or if you like to talk before the game gets started, I'll let you talk yourself into a hole.

"Once you talk yourself into a hole with me, it's over. I just close the lid."

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 10 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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