It hasn't been all that easy for Ken Crawley the first two weeks of the regular season, with the New Orleans Saints' second-year cornerback inactive for losses against Minnesota and New England.
Crawley played in 15 games and started five as an undrafted rookie in 2016, and was a regular presence in the secondary. And after lining up with the first- or second-team defense for almost all of the offseason and training camp, he appeared poised to build on his first-year performance.
But when the regular-season opened, starters P.J. Williams and Marshon Lattimore were joined by De'Vante Harris and Sterling Moore in the cornerback rotation.
However, Crawley's inactivity likely will end Sunday, when the Saints (0-2) play Carolina (2-0) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. With Lattimore (concussion) and Moore (chest) either not having practiced this week (Lattimore) or having been limited (Moore), Crawley likely is the next man up in the cornerback room.
He said it was difficult to watch the first two games and not be able to contribute.
"It got with me a little bit, but I always keep my head high and keep working," he said. "I see it as motivation, just to keep getting better. Each and every week I just kept getting better.
"I was anxious to get out there but as the games were going on, I was taking mental reps and putting myself in place out there, envisioning me making plays out there and getting better as the week went on."
But he learned to be prepared last season, when a slew of injuries (Delvin Breaux's broken fibula, Williams' season-ending concussion in the second game) contributed to him being on the field. Crawley had 50 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery last year.
"You've got to always be in position when your number is called to go in and make plays, and be there for the defense," he said. "It's something you get used to."
And playing time garnered last season helped prepare Crawley for the upcoming opportunity.
"I'm ready," he said. "This is a big opponent for us. We've got to go there and find this win.
"I played last year so I've got a good feel for the game."