METAIRIE, La. — Luke McCown doesn’t see New Orleans’ release of Seneca Wallace as a time to relax.
Instead, getting the nod to be the team’s backup quarterback should only focus him more, he said.
Because now it’s all on him should anything force him into a game.
“I honestly look at it as now I need to be more sharp, now I need to continue to prove their decision right,” McCown said. “Now it’s about showing why they made the decision they made to keep me.”
Wallace was let go following a three-week period in which he missed five practices with a groin injury and led an offense in the second preseason game that turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions.
McCown, on the other hand, led two touchdown drives in the preseason opener against Kansas City, throwing for 216 yards on 18 of 28 passing. Though he threw an interception, his performance gave the team enough confidence to make the quarterback decision early.
“With the way our practice schedule shapes up, this is something that we felt was going to help us get more repetition with some of the other guys competing and we’ll continue to look at doing that,” coach Sean Payton said.
McCown had a leg up on Wallace from the outset, having spent preseason with the Saints in 2012. He also was familiar with the play calls from his time in Tampa Bay, where he learned from then-coach Jon Gruden, whose offense is similar to Payton’s.
“To be able to retain the amount of install you get in a day and be able to spit it out on the field, for me, if you count all the way back to last year, this is my third time going through those installs,” McCown said. “So that helped a lot.”
Primarily as a backup in his nine previous seasons in the NFL, McCown has thrown for 2,035 yards, nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
But his background at Louisiana Tech sets him up as a better fit with the Saints; he set school records for completions (1,088), attempts (1,827) and yards (12,994). When he left Ruston, La., his 88 touchdown passes were eight-most in Division I history.
For the next two weeks, while Drew Brees and the first-team offense are getting ready for the Sept. 8 season opener, McCown says he’ll also be preparing, albeit in a different manner.
“Obviously the starters will play more,” McCown said. “But it becomes a dress rehearsal for me too because my reps go down during the week and that’s how it’s going to be during the season. Drew takes the reps, I try to get those mental reps, I’ll stay after and get the reps with the younger receivers just on air and work that way. That’s how I’ve done it my whole career.”