So far for Andy Dalton, there has been a familial feel to his New Orleans Saints experience.
The veteran quarterback – 35,279 passing yards, with 226 touchdowns and 135 interceptions in 152 games (148 starts) over 11 seasons – was a significant addition to the Saints' quarterback room this offseason, when he signed as an unrestricted free agent. And his teammates have been a welcoming bunch through nine gatherings of OTAs.
"It's been good, I've really enjoyed my time here," Dalton said. "Getting here and getting in that quarterback room, being around Jameis (Winston) and being around Ian (Book), we've gotten close with just being here and everything. So it's been fun to see how they work and to be a part of this thing."
The offense Dalton has partaken of has been what he expected to see upon joining New Orleans.
"It's been great," he said. "I think for this team, we've added some pieces, too, which is going to help out. But I'm loving what we're doing here. I think these OTAs have been big for everybody, just getting on the same page with everything that we're doing. This offense has had a lot of success throughout the years. Seeing it from afar, I'm proud to be a part of it.
"It's important, especially for a new guy coming in. For me, just getting involved, getting in the huddle calling plays, seeing the operation of it all, getting used to some of the timing of some of these concepts that we're running. A lot of stuff that I've done, and some stuff that's new. For me it's been really important, just the operation of everything."
Dalton was signed to fill the role of primary backup to Winston. The longtime starter – he started every game he played in his first nine seasons in Cincinnati, and 15 of the 19 he played the last two seasons in Dallas and Chicago, respectively – believes he still has starter ability.
"For sure," he said. "I definitely have a lot of confidence in what I can do. I'm here to help out in any way. I feel like the experience that I can bring to the quarterback room, to just our offense and just being around our guys, can definitely help out. If something were to happen where I'm going to be playing, I'll be ready to go. But I definitely view myself as a starter. That's just how I'm always going to believe in myself and what I think I can do."
But the current role with the Saints is to back Winston. Dalton quickly has grown an appreciation for Winston's work.
"Jameis has been great," he said. "I've followed him from afar, but now coming here just to see how he works, how important it is for him, it's been a lot of fun for me to see.
"He does everything the right way, and it's been a lot of fun for me to be a part of that and just kind of watch him work and see how he just goes about doing everything. Not only from the teaching aspect of what we're going to be doing on offense, but also just from him trying to get back with his rehab and everything. I've really enjoyed it."
New Orleans Saints players participated in the team's 2022 OTA practices on June 9, 2022 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.