METAIRIE, La. ― Jermon Bushrod didn't earn his starting role as the Saints' starting left tackle in the traditional way.
No, Jammal Brown, a former Pro Bowl lineman, had his season end during the first month of practice a season ago when he had sports hernia surgery followed by a procedure to fix an ailing hip.
But by New Orleans' 31-17 Super Bowl XLIV win over Indianapolis, that didn't really matter.
(Audio - Bushrod talks about staying hungry)
The Saints had won the biggest game of the season with Bushrod guarding quarterback Drew Brees' blindside. Brown had become expendable and midway through the offseason, the Saints traded the unhappy lineman to Washington.
The move shocked Bushrod.
'At first, you're kind of let down a little bit because here was one of my closest friends here on the team leaving,' Bushrod said. 'To have a friendship and be as close to somebody as you are, like all of us are, to have somebody leave, at first it's really not the best situation'
That wasn't the only move the Saints made this offseason that could affect Bushrod's livelihood. New Orleans drafted Charles Brown with the team's second-round pick.
A shot across the bow? Maybe.
Bushrod doesn't see it that way.
'Obviously, they did bring in some good young talent, but that's what happens,' Bushrod said. 'You lose one guy, you pick up another guy. You really can't worry about it too much. You've just got to worry about yourself and what you can do to make yourself better because it's all about this team.
'You've got to put your team first.'
The fourth-year player out of Towson knows he has a ways to go before he can be considered safe at his position.
While noting what he needed to improve, he mentioned last year's Dallas game in which the Cowboys ended the Saints 13-game winning streak. DeMarcus Ware sacked Brees on the final play of the game, coming from Bushrod's side to force the game-ending fumble.
Regardless, Bushrod played in every postseason game and kept Brees clean when it counted. He's not resting on last season's laurels, though.
'I don't really feel like I can really get too comfortable or get too complacent in this league because once comfort sets in, individually and as a team, you start feeling a little too good about yourself,' Bushrod said.