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John DeShazier: Ryan Griffin giving it everything he's got in backup QB competition

Third-year QB had very efficient preseason game


White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – Ryan Griffin's goals are pretty straightforward.

For the New Orleans Saints, his objective is to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Drew Brees, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer who inches up the all-time list every time he attempts and completes a pass.

"That's my goal. No doubt," Griffin said.

But if you think that's the end-game aspiration for the former Tulane standout, then Griffin kindly will tell you that it's not even close.

See, the Saints' third-year player – who was an undrafted rookie in 2013 – sees himself as a starter. And his logic is sound.

"Definitely, no doubt, and if you don't believe that as a quarterback in the NFL, then you're in the wrong place," Griffin said. "You've got to believe that you're the best player on the field at all times, and I do.

"I have confidence in myself. You've got to go out there and you've got to be able to run the show, no matter how many reps you get."

![]( "TM")Which is exactly the way it appeared for Griffin in the Saints' preseason opener, a 30-27 loss against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Griffin smoothly directed the offense in his three series', completing 10 of 17 passes for 112 yards and a 21-yard touchdown to running back Khiry Robinson.

Griffin was 4 for 5 for 61 yards on the touchdown drive he helped orchestrate, and also helped the offense set up Zach Hocker's 47-yard field goal that pulled New Orleans to within 20-17 in the third quarter.

"That was nice," he said of the touchdown drive. "That was kind of the undrafted Class of '13 right there – me, (tight end) Josh (Hill), running back (Khiry) Robinson, (guard) Tim (Lelito). So it was good getting in there with those guys, definitely feel comfortable with them.

"But unfortunately, we didn't score touchdowns on the other two drives. You're always looking to improve and those are two areas I wish I could have done better in."

The Saints didn't score touchdowns, but Griffin likely scored points in his pursuit to be the Saints' No. 2 quarterback. With Brees entrenched as the starter and rookie Garrett Grayson, New Orleans' third-round pick, probably slated as the No. 3, it'll be up to Griffin and Luke McCown to claim the primary backup spot.

"I can't worry about what Luke has in experience and all that stuff, and all the other factors," he said. "I've just got to worry about myself and what I can do with this battle, this situation. I've just got to make the most of it, I've got to keep getting better.

"So I'm more looking at myself and how I can get better as a football player. I know it's a competition, but it's a competition with everybody in the league. It's all about getting yourself better and improving."

Preseason game performance obviously will carry some weight in the evaluation process, but Griffin is becoming more familiar with all situations.

"It's the comfort level," Coach Sean Payton said. "Getting in the huddle with a play and getting out, understanding where his outlets are, understanding the packages we're putting together, getting us into the best play. I think his tempo has gotten better, I think that comes with time."

Griffin agrees that the more exposure, the more familiar and decisive he has become.

"The past year I was able to get another year of experience under my belt," he said. "I think going through OTAs and going through camp is when you're able to make your biggest improvements because of the reps you're getting. During the season it's tough, it's a lot of mental reps. So I think it's important to do the most with what you've got in OTAs and preseason games.

"I feel pretty good (with the offense). There's always things you're trying to work on and get better at. I'm still trying to spit out plays a little faster in the huddle, get the guys moving in and out of the huddle faster. The pace that Drew moves at, that's the goal. (It's) super fast – I'm going to try to get there."

He hopes to do so as a Saint. He's not looking at the situation as one where he's passing around his resume to other NFL teams via the positive film he's putting together. His vision is more tunneled than that.

"I feel like I'm playing for this team," Griffin said. "You're going to put out your best tape for your team. You're going to try to make sure every drive counts, every play counts. It's pretty simple – you just worry about your team, your game and you do your best and give everything you've got."

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