METAIRIE, La. — If all else fails for Andy Tanner in his quest to make the Saints’ 53-man roster, he should at least hire quarterback Drew Brees to be his personal spokesman.
Because to listen to Brees, Tanner is the next big thing, a guy everyone in the locker room respects and believes in.
“When coach (Sean) Payton gets up there and talks every offseason and training camp about, hey there are guys on this team that may have been cut, brought back, practice squad, this and that, and these are the players that they have become,” Brees said. “He uses examples like Pierre Thomas. Andy Tanner is right in that line. It’s only a matter of time.”
“Time” could be now for Tanner. He’s likely fighting for one of the final roster spots with Preston Parker, who has had an equally impressive camp.
After three years bouncing on and off the practice squad for Tanner, however, he could have put himself in line to scoot in before the door closes on the 2013 preseason.
Tanner’s 92 receiving yards this preseason are third-most for the Saints. His six catches are tied for second. His two touchdowns are tied for first. And he plays on special teams, which could be how he works his way onto the roster.
Or it could be catches like his second touchdown against Houston (video).
Tanner ran a simple route after motioning from left to right. He blew by Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety D.J. Swearinger on a skinny post and Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin saw it. Tanner reached high, grasping the ball with his fingertips to haul in his second touchdown of the game. And then he emphatically launched the ball into the end zone wall.
But he’s not resting on his laurels, moving on mentally from preseason Week 4 to preseason Week 5, when the Saints will play at Miami on a short week.
“I have to come out and make plays just like any other game,” Tanner said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to come out, work hard, correct mistakes from the last game, and get better this week.”
He won’t allow himself to think about his future beyond that, however. Instead, he’s preparing for Miami and listening to what his teammates are telling him.
“I really haven’t sat down at all and just had a conversation, but everybody is encouraging,” Tanner said. “(They are) telling me to keep working hard, keep making plays, and good things will happen.”
And if good things don’t happen this time around? Well, listen to Brees once more.
“He is a guy that has meant so much to this team even though he maybe hasn’t seen the field in active duty action in the regular season yet,” the Pro Bowl quarterback said. “He’s a guy who’s on the practice squad who makes play after play throughout preseason and offseason. We know his opportunity will come. We all just have so much respect for him.”