Lyons Yellin / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. --The battle between 13-year vet Jonathan Goodwin and Tim Lelito, a converted guard entering his second season, isn't coming to an end anytime soon.
'I think we can take that battle for a while,' head coach Sean Payton said. 'We will see how they are handling the reps and I think in the preseason games we will receive a chance to see them get plenty of work.'
During live team drills, Goodwin continues to take the majority his reps with the first team while Lelito does so during walkthroughs.
Lelito, Payton said, is fighting an uphill battle to win the job over the more experienced Goodwin.
Goodwin 'is consistent and he obviously knows exactly where to go,' Payton said. 'He will go six, seven weeks without a mental error. That is the type of player he is.'
Still, no matter how fierce the battle and long it rages on, Goodwin feels it's his duty to aid in Lelito's development, much like Kevin Mawae, Jason Fabini and Dave Szott did with Goodwin early in his career.
'In my rookie year in New York (Jets), those guys looked out for me,' he said. '...I think (that) has been valuable for my career.'
Lelito has 'been coming to me a lot, and I have no problem with that, regardless of who's in there,' Goodwin added. 'If he's in there and I feel bad that I could've taught him something, that could cost us a game. I would feel bad if something like that happened.'
Nothing has been promised to Goodwin, except a chance to compete, something he's perfectly happy New Orleans gave him after three seasons in San Francisco.
'They told me about Tim and they said it would be a straight up competition and the believed that no matter who won, we would have a good center.'
Before signing with the Saints, Goodwin admitted, albeit briefly, that he considered retirement, largely because he was a 35-year-old free agent.
'I pretty much knew that last year was my last year in San Francisco,' he said. 'Once I decided I still had the itch to play, Mickey (Loomis) called me and it was a no-brainer. It's a great organization, a place that I loved being the first time, and a place where I'd love to finish my career.'
And if Goodwin doesn't win the starting job, is he prepared to sit?
'Definitely. I didn't come back to sit, but I know that's a possibility,' he said. 'All I can do is go out and play my best and prove that I can still play this game.'
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