Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter

METAIRIE, La. ― When Jonathan Goodwin decided to ply his trade elsewhere, the Saints were left in a hole at center.

They signed veteran Olin Kreutz but he walked away from football after the sixth game of the season.

But football is a game of opportunity and for Brian de la Puente, the timing was right.

Now he's a trusted mainstay on the line.

'He's been awesome,' Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. 'That's a good way to put it. He's Mr. Steady.'

The Saints offense has thrived with de la Puente at center. This past week he helped pave the way for 195 yards rushing.

After bouncing around the NFL on practice squads, including New Orleans' in 2010, de la Puente has found a home.

'Good thing for us because I think he's been a great addition, albeit how he ended up in that spot,' Brees said. 'But I feel extremely comfortable with him and I know the rest of the offensive line does, too.'

De la Puente was thrust into the starting position first when Kreutz was sidelined with an injury.

Then he was thrown into the lineup when Kreutz left the team suddenly.

How he has played has impressed left guard Carl Nicks, who lines up next to him daily.

'I would say he's doing a great job,' Nicks said. '... He has kind of been thrown into the fire. He must be having some fire fighter equipment on with some flame retardant jacket and pants because I think he's doing a hell of a job.'

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