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John DeShazier: Max Unger says "Everything is coming together" with the New Orleans Saints

Unger’s wife, Leah, gave birth to their first child (Cameron on Monday.

The Saints didn't trade for Max Unger because of his punt returning skills.

The vision of the 6-feet-5, 305-pounder settling under one of Thomas Morstead's towering shots near the end of Thursday's OTA drills – the offensive line's final offering in a punt-fielding competition between the offensive and defensive lines – wasn't exactly the epitome of balletic movement and sticky fingers.

Unger's inability to force another round of the competition – he didn't have to labor especially hard to track it, but the catch attempt glanced off his fingertips – sent the entire offense to the ground for a series of up-downs.

"It tells you a lot, doesn't it?" an amused Coach Sean Payton said, with a smile. "You learn a lot. You can see who played baseball and who didn't.

"A few of those guys were impressive."

His team's new starting center did not fit into that category.

"Oh my goodness," Unger said, laughing. "That was so bad. I was the last one up, of course, and I had to lose it for the offense. But what are you gonna do?"

Here's what he's going to do for the Saints: Provide them with a Pro Bowl-caliber center who'll help fortify the offensive line, and offer them the experience of a seven-year veteran who helped Seattle become the most dominant running team in the league (finishing No. 1, 4 and 3 overall in the previous three seasons) en route to consecutive Super Bowl appearances, and victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.

"It's been good," Unger said. "I missed last week, got back out here this week and have been just kind of learning on the fly. So far, so good. Everything is kind of coming together.

"The concepts are similar (to Seattle's), but I'm being asked to do something … little changes here and there. But the playbook is coming along. Technique is a little bit different – different coaching, different style and just kind of adjusting to that. You've been doing something for a little while and then just changing little steps.

"(But) it's awesome. The offense is a pretty veteran group, a lot of success and awesome offense. It's cool being a part of it."

It also will be an adjustment from the aspect of pass blocking. Last season, Drew Brees completed more passes (456) for the Saints than Russell Wilson attempted (452) for the Seahawks.

The Saints have been one of the league's top passing teams in yards, attempts and completions since Payton was named head coach in 2006.

"It's a little bit different," Unger said. "(Pass blocking) is something I haven't done a lot of – just a different style of football. It's something that I do and I have been doing a long time, and it's just adjusting to that."

He also will be playing with a veteran quarterback. Brees is entering his 15th season; Wilson, his fourth.

"Drew does a lot out there," Unger said. "He talks a lot, gets a lot of people on the same page and it's pretty good. You've just got to listen to him. He changes stuff on the line of scrimmage and you've got to be able to adjust to that."

It's one of the significant adjustments he will be making after joining the Saints. Another was the reason he was excused from attending last week's OTAs. Unger's wife, Leah, gave birth to their first child (Cameron – seven pounds, 11 ounces, 21 inches) on Monday.

"It was pretty exciting," he said. "My wife was a champ. She did really well. It was pretty amazing."

Definitely, as amazing as any accomplishment he ever has achieved on a football field, Unger said. And much more memorable – and infinitely, more pleasant – than settling under a punt.

Photos of the New Orleans Saints OTA on June 4, 2015. Photos by Alex Restrepo (New Orleans Saints photos)

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