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New Orleans Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk recognized in the right places as he continues to ascend ladder of greatness

'I'm not even close to being where I think I should be'

In street clothes, one of the NFL's most decorated offensive linemen over the past two seasons still is able to freely move about, without much commotion or fuss over his comings and goings in New Orleans.

They know him well in his hometown of Stevens Point, Wis., of course, because a chunk of human being standing 6 foot 4 and weighing 314 pound is going to stand out in a small town (a shade less than 26,200 people at last count) even if he isn't an NFL superstar.

Here, the appreciation pretty much is confined to the field but when it's shown, it's appreciated.

"I get recognized here once in a while," said Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, a two-time All-Pro in his first three seasons, an accomplishment equaled in franchise history only by Hall of Fame left tackle Willie Roaf.

"I'm comfortable with it. It's always awesome to see people in your community recognize an offensive lineman. We don't get a lot of media, a lot of press. So it's cool when people recognize you."

Perhaps that's the byproduct of being on a roster that includes a Hall of Fame quarterback (Drew Brees), a record-setting receiver (Michael Thomas), two of the league's best defensive players (defensive end Cam Jordan and linebacker Demario Davis), and two young stars (cornerback Marshon Lattimore and running back Alvin Kamara) who were members of the same rookie draft class.

But for Ramczyk, the recognition tops out where it counts most, among his teammates in the locker room and opponents on gameday.

Ramcyzk, who underwent and recovered from minor offseason knee surgery, has missed one regular-season start in his career, played every offensive snap as a rookie (some at left tackle, due to injuries), allowed one sack last season and is one of the best players in the star-studded 2017 first round.

And like every season, he's eager to fine-tune his skills.

"There's always a whole laundry list of things that I'd like to improve on, but I think there's a couple of things in the run and pass game – just little things that consistently, I would like to improve on," Ramczyk said.

"I'm talking really small details, like where I carry my hands in my pass game, my pad level in my pass game and run game. Certain stuff like footwork on the play side of outside or inside zone run. Really, little details like that that I have been working on a little bit in the offseason.

"Coming in as a rookie, and first- or second-year guy, there's so much that you need to get better at and learn, and it's just an ongoing process. I'm not even close to being where I think I should be. But I think at the same time, as you get experience and you get a couple more years under your belt, it's like, 'All right, now I can start to really fine-tune my game and pick up some of the more small points in my game that I need to improve on."

New Orleans is scheduled to have its first padded practice of this year's training camp Monday. And there, Ramczyk said, is where areas of improvement best can be identified for offensive and defensive linemen.

"Every year you go into camp and when those pads come on, it's a different tempo," he said. "It's full go. And as an offensive lineman, that's something you kind of look forward to.

"It's like, all right, it's 'go' time now, and you can kind of test yourself again and see where you are, what you need to improve on. When you have the full pads, it's really the only time that you can truly evaluate yourself and kind of see where you are and what you need to improve on. The padded days are definitely a benefit."

Pads and jersey on, he's been impossible to overlook.

CESAR WORK: Ramczyk said it's possible that first-round draft pick Cesar Ruiz, a guard/center, could start at center. New Orleans hasn't designated whether Ruiz will play right guard or center this season; Erik McCoy started at center last year, and also is capable of playing right guard. "I think it's realistic," Ramczyk said. "Is it difficult? Yeah, I think it's difficult. There's a lot to know, there's a lot to learn. How does he mesh with (quarterback) Drew (Brees)? There's a lot that goes into the center position. But I definitely think it's realistic. Cesar is a great player, he's a smart player and I'm sure that whatever the coaching staff decides, Cesar is going to be able to assume that role."

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