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Continuity at quarterback will be a plus for New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy

'It would be awesome'

New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2023 OTA practices on May 30, 2023 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2023 OTA practices on May 30, 2023 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

If you're keeping count at home – and many, many people have kept count at home – the number now is seven.

That's how many quarterbacks have started games for the New Orleans Saints, and likely taken snaps from center Erik McCoy, since 2020, and that includes Derek Carr, this season's projected starter.

Beginning with Drew Brees (12 games in '20), New Orleans has gone with Taysom Hill (four games in '20, five in '21), Jameis Winston (seven in '21, three in '22), Trevor Siemian (four in '21), Ian Book (one in '21), Andy Dalton (14 in '22) and now Carr.

There was so much change that McCoy, the Saints' second-round draft pick in 2019, became accustomed to it, and comfortable with it.

"There's been a lot of change, and I've gotten used to the change by now," he said. "But I would say, really the main thing I've got to get used to is how people communicate, because every quarterback is different in how they have wanted to do things. How they communicate, how the snap count goes – are they loud, are they quiet – things like that. But that's the name of the game, making adjustments on the fly."

After such a significant amount of uncertainty, with McCoy starting 41 of the 50 games since '20, it won't at all bother him if Carr is manning the position for a string of games and seasons.

"It would be awesome," he said.

So far, what McCoy has seen from Carr during OTAs, he has embraced. Having Carr join the Saints as an unrestricted free agent was reason enough for McCoy to join the voluntary workouts.

"I would say it's been awesome so far," he said. "Derek's an awesome guy, he's awesome in the huddle. I'm really, really excited for this year, for him, for the whole process.

"With a new quarterback, getting in, learning him, learning how he communicates, learning his cadence, were all things that I wanted to be a part of."

There's a bonus to having Carr in the backfield, too. The veteran quarterback is comfortable taking over calling the offensive line protections, and the anchor of the line is fine with that change.

"It's a lot easier for him to see all the things back there standing up, studying the coverages week in and week out, than it is for me to do all that," McCoy said. "Because at some point I have to lock in and be like, 'I'm blocking this person.' It's been awesome having him do that."

"The way I was taught is, if you're in control you know where your problems are," Carr said. "You do all that studying and all that preparation just to break the huddle and let someone else make the decision, I've always felt that I like to be in control of the game and I like to make those points. And I'm not right every time, but if I'm not right, at least I know where my answer is at.

"With these defenses so complicated sometimes, you're not going to be 100 percent. But if I'm not 100 percent, where's my answer. That's how I was trained and that's how I grew up in a certain system, in this kind of protection system."

It's a hierarchy that Coach Dennis Allen is comfortable with. He has seen a smooth playing relationship between McCoy and Carr.

"I think for the most part it has (been seamless)," Allen said. "I know Derek is still in a learning process in terms of what we're doing, but he seems to be picking everything up pretty quickly. I think we do a pretty good job of getting the protection set right and identifying the Mike (linebacker) and things of that nature. I think it's been good."

At least in part, it has been good because the veteran center has continued to improve every season.

"I would say since Year 1, I've made tremendous jumps," McCoy said. "Even since last year, I'd say I've made jumps. Mentally, that's part of the reason that I make an effort to be at every OTA, because I can grow and become a better player, and work on the things that I wasn't good at last year."

New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2023 OTA practices on May 30, 2023 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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