There was the expectation of a big splash last year when the New Orleans Saints acquired cornerback Bradley Roby four days before the regular-season opener against Green Bay in an effort to strengthen the position.
But it was difficult for Roby to splash before he learned to swim.
"I feel like I was swimming all year," he said. "Kudos to the other guys, they helped me a lot throughout the whole season, the coaches helped me a lot just to stay up and not be too far behind the other guys when it comes to knowing what to do when we're out there."
Hopping into the deep end, and playing catch-up for most of the season, has helped create a more comfortable Roby this year, as he spent his first year in the Saints' offseason program and exhibits a more comfortable, confident player in training camp.
"It's a lot better than last year," Roby said. "Last year was kind of at the last minute, right before the season, had a lot of catch-up to do. This year I feel more comfortable. I know the defense now. Just going out there being more comfortable, really. The terminology and the calls, and being confident in the calls, knowing my stuff and just being confident in that."
"I'm really happy with what I'm seeing out of Bradley Roby," Coach Dennis Allen said. "He's been playing both outside and in the nickel, I've got extreme confidence in his ability to play either one of those positions. He's had a really good camp. He continues to come out here and compete. He's feeling more confident in what we're doing defensively.
"It's hard when you bring in a guy Week 1; it just takes a little while for a guy to kind of fit into the system. And especially when you're dealing with a talented group like we have back there. It's hard to break yourself into that lineup, but I think he's had a hell of a camp so far."
And if Roby isn't poised to crack the starting lineup, he definitely appears in position to increase his snap count and make a bigger impact as a member of a Saints secondary that is deep and talented.
"I love it," he said. "I love it, because it's going to get the best out of everyone. I was telling (cornerback Paulson) Adebo just a few minutes ago, this reminds me of that Denver team, that Super Bowl 50 (team). That secondary, we were great and we had depth.
"This secondary reminds me of that and I really want to have expectations of that as well. Our expectation is to be one of the best secondaries, if not the best secondary. We've already stated that and we want to work to that every day. We believe we are so talented, why would we not be? That's our goal and that's what we're working toward."
Roby said there's no jealousy about roles and reps in the secondary.
"It's just a good group of guys," he said. "It'd be different if I was younger, if I was in my second or third year. This is my ninth year coming up – I've seen a lot, played a lot. It's hard to not have (jealousy over snaps), but at the same time, I think that's what fuels us all getting better because we're all competing against each other as well as the other team.
"Jealousy or not, if you have that or not, it's going to make you better because if you're jealous, you're going to try harder, right? It's a great group of guys, nobody's hating on one another. That's what I love about it, that's why it reminds me of that Denver team because we were so close and we were friends."
COOLER, CALMER: After a few days of contentiousness during camp practice – mainly, rookie left tackle Trevor Penning being involved in several dustups – the Saints were able to make it through Thursday's practice without the extracurriculars.
"I thought it was much cleaner today," Allen said following the outdoor practice. He addresses the media in the indoor facility after each practice.
"It takes a lot of energy to fight, and it's harder to do out there in the heat than it is in here in the air conditioning. But I think our guys really, they understand what we have to do and how we have to practice. I'm sure that's not the only challenge we'll have throughout training camp, but certainly it was better today."
THIRD DOWN: Thursday's practice was devoted to situational football, mainly third down. "Guys are battling through, they're competing and we'll continue to get better," Allen said.
The New Orleans Saints took the field for practice during 2022 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Thursday, August 4.