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John DeShazier: Delvin Breaux ready to make Superdome debut Sunday for Saints

Hometown cornerback hasn't played in Dome since he was a kid


He spent a portion of his time during pregame behind the New Orleans Saints' bench near the wall and railing, talking to ushers and fans. They wanted to know his name, vowed to him that they'd be cheering for him.

But once the preseason game against New England began last Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Delvin Breaux might as well have been a little boy looking outside the window, stuck inside as he watched his neighborhood buddies run and play and yell with glee.

He wanted to go out and play, was convinced that nothing would happen to him, knew he'd be fine because he felt strong and fast and as ready as he ever had been. But his parents – in this case, led by Saints Coach Sean Payton – wouldn't let him.

So Breaux, a New Orleans native and former McDonogh 35 High star who was sidelined by an injury he sustained in the Saints' preseason opener in Baltimore, helped as best he could, and bided his time. And barring a setback, this week – Sunday, against the Houston Texans in the Superdome – will be his time.

He'll play in the Superdome for the first time since doing so as an 8- or 9-year-old for Goretti Playground, when he said he ran 80 yards for a touchdown on his first touch in the championship game.

!"I can't wait," Breaux said. "First time playing in the Dome since little league, so I think it's going to be pretty exciting. And I can't wait.

"Preseason or not, I want to get my opportunities to play on the field. I'm here for a reason and I want to show Who Dat nation what I can do."

If he shows them some of what he has shown during OTAs, minicamp and training camp, they'll like what they see.

Breaux fits the mold of the big (6 feet 1, 196 pounds), physical, man-to-man playing cornerback that the Saints targeted this offseason. After two seasons in the Canadian Football League – one as a CFL All-Star – he appears to have worked his way up the depth chart to a spot as New Orleans' starting nickel back, a vital role considering the propensity of NFL offenses to attack from three-receiver sets.

He has shown excellent cover skills, reliable hands and a willingness to put those hands on receivers in order to disrupt routes and timing. Receiver Joe Morgan said that Breaux, above all Saints cornerbacks, has given him the most trouble in training camp because Breaux is extremely strong and understands how to use his strength.

"I just go to work every day," Breaux said. "I try to practice my technique against some great receivers like Joe Morgan. He's pretty fast so I always have to stick to details when I'm covering him, and getting my hands on him is one thing I have to do.

"(In the) CFL, you can actually have contact all the way down the field until the ball is thrown. In the NFL, you have to know when to stop. It's been a difficult transition, but I'm getting it every day."

Still, there remains learning to do for Breaux.

"Great cover skills," Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said Wednesday. "Now, there's going to be a learning curve in this league, with the formation variations and the motions and the things he has to learn, going from man to zone concepts. But he's been a real pleasant surprise."

Breaux, despite his ascension, is taking nothing for granted. The snaps could be plentiful against the Texans – he was injured early against the Ravens – because the third preseason game generally is the closest approximation of a regular-season game for NFL teams. Starters usually play at least one half, perhaps as much as three quarters.

"I'm still working," he said. "I have to continue to keep working to make this 53-man roster. Every day I push and I tell myself that I'm going to make it, I just have to come out here and work and show the coaches that I'm consistent with everything."

He has done enough of that. On Sunday, if he doesn't have a setback prior to the day, he won't have to watch from behind a window pane. Breaux will get to go out and play with his friends.

"I can sleep, I feel fine," he said. "It's no added pressure. It's football, that's what I do. I just wake up every morning, come out here and prepare myself to do what I do on Sunday."

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