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John DeShazier: Saints RB Travaris Cadet working on becoming complete player

Cadet wants to keep improving

Darren Sproles was small by most athletic scales but downright diminutive by NFL measures, in height, measuring 5 feet 6 on a good day.

But the running back, who was traded to Philadelphia this offseason, left behind a sizeable role to fill with the New Orleans Saints. And perhaps fortunately for the Saints, he left behind a blueprint on how best to fill it.

Third-year back Travaris Cadet will be one of the players who will attempt to be as impactful on offense and special teams as was Sproles, who had 71 receptions, 53 carries, 29 punt returns and 12 kickoff returns last season, for a combined 1,273 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games.

"I feel like it's a great opportunity," said Cadet, who's seven inches taller than Sproles, and 20 pounds heavier at 210. "Sproles is gone now and that's in the past. (But) I learned a lot from Sproles while he was here.

"I constantly picked his brain, on a daily basis, trying to get that competitive edge over my opponents – how to attack different techniques, how to approach the game, how to work every day, how to come to work prepared every day and never get complacent, try my best to get better, put in the overtime that needs to be put in."

The biggest positive for the Saints is that Cadet has proven to be a versatile player.
As an undrafted rookie, he mostly worked with the receivers. He caught five passes for 44 yards but had most of his production on special teams, where he returned 26 kickoffs for 690 yards and produced seven tackles on special teams.

Last season, when he moved to running back, he had five special teams tackles, scored his first NFL touchdown on a reception and returned nine kickoffs for 239 yards in a limited role.

This season, he hopes to become a player who will receive a larger workload for the Saints.

"I think last year we saw him transition into a guy that we hand the ball to," Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. "That's something he's worked hard on.

"He's a guy that has very good hands, he's sudden with good hips and change of direction. He's been able to do a lot of the things that we asked Darren to do in the passing game."

The next step is to do it all better, consistently.

"I see myself fitting in well," Cadet said. "This is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. I'm going to do my best to take advantage of the opportunity. Just take it a day at a time, keep working. It's all about progression.

"(I'm improving) every aspect of my game – blitz pickup, whether it's covering on special teams, whether it's returning kicks, whether it's route running, whether it's reading keys on a specific route run or reading my keys on a run.

"(The goal is) being a complete player, not being a master of a few things but a master of everything. I want to be a master of every position they ask me to play."

Day 1 of 2014 New Orleans Saints Minicamp presented by Verizon on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Photos by Matthew Sharpe (New Orleans Saints photos)

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