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New Orleans Saints players remain calm as cuts loom

"When you feel like you gave it your all, I think you can live with it"

Dan Arnold

This is the third NFL season with the New Orleans Saints for tight end Dan Arnold, and the third time the former rookie free agent has experienced the eve of training camp cuts.

Arnold played in 10 regular-season games for the Saints last year, and caught 12 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. That doesn't make the process any easier, but it does help give him perspective.

"I think the biggest thing is you've just got to remember all the work that you've put in and kind of be proud of what you've put forth," Arnold said Friday, Aug. 30. "You've just got to kind of step back and realize how far you've come and let God take things where they're going to go. You've got to trust in the process.

"I think the first time going through it, it was one of those things where, I had never been in that kind situation before and everything was so new. I kind of had the outcome of, 'Whatever is going to happen, it's just the way it's going to happen.'

"I'm just proud to be able to have the opportunity to make the team. That's kind of what my thought process was last year, and that's the same this year. You've just got to be proud of everything that you've done. The hay is in the barn at this point. You've got to trust that the coaches saw something in you that they're going want to keep you around here. And you've just got to trust them."

Similarly, offensive lineman Cameron Tom was an undrafted rookie in 2017 who managed to stick with the Saints (Tom was signed to the practice squad and later, to the 53-man roster; Arnold spent that year on injured reserve).

And, similarly, Tom has learned that the work that has been done this offseason will be the work that makes the difference as the Saints trim the roster from 90 players to 53.

"It's difficult, it's never easy," said Tom, who was active for 11 games in 2018, and started one. "Most of us are probably on the bubble. You put it all out there in training camp and let the chips fall where they may.

"When you feel like you gave it your all, I think you can live with it. If you look back on the past five weeks, and you felt like you put it on the line, I think that settles you down a little bit."

Tom said that having been on the roster the previous two seasons provides some measure of calm, but it's not the end-all.

"It may provide a little confidence, but every year you have to prove yourself, especially for a guy like me," he said. "You've got to go out there and prove yourself – training camp, OTAs, minicamp. It could provide a little confidence but at the same time, I still have to go out there and prove myself."

Rookie linebacker Kaden Elliss was provided ample opportunity to prove himself. Partly due to injuries suffered by Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson, Elliss, the Saints' seventh-round draft pick this year, had the chance to receive increased practice and game reps in the preseason.

That, though, isn't the reason that the rookie was calm as he approached his first NFL cut day.

"It should be pretty nerve-wracking, but I'm not too nervous," Elliss said. "I know God's got a plan, I did everything I can, now I just have to let Him decide what He wants to do with it.

"He talks about the peace that transcends all understanding when you give things to Him. Giving it to Him, I'm good. Whatever happens, I know He's got a plan and whatever happens, I'm going to work my hardest. So it's easy."

Too, there is the possibility for any player released that another team will like what it saw on film during preseason, and sign the player.

That reality means their NFL dream might be deferred, instead of denied.

"I think the biggest thing right now is I know the kind of player that I want to become.," Arnold said. "I just have to keep moving forward with that. No matter what happens, you've just got to remember your potential, whether it be here or another team.

"I always told myself that I want to be a Saint. I always tell myself every morning when I wake up in training camp that I'm doing it to stay here. And that's what I want in the end. But if that doesn't happen, it's the NFL, anything can happen. You've just got to lean on what you've done as a player and be proud of everything you've done."


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