WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Twice Friday, Saints running back Travaris Cadet took a handoff right; halted on a dime; cut left and was only stopped by his pursuers after long gains.
The confidence and decisiveness Cadet showed on that pair of snaps commanded the attention of observers, for he’s only carried the ball in a regular-season game once for 5 yards since making the Saints as an undrafted rookie out of Appalachian State in 2012.
Cadet was less surprised about that speaking to reporters after the Saints’ seventh training camp practice at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. What everyone had just seen were the desired effects of a learning process that’s required hours upon hours of watching game tape.
“It goes back to the film room,” Cadet said Friday. “(I’m) seeing things, and (it’s resulted in me) being on the same page with my offensive linemen, me reading the same thing they’re reading, how they’re using their techniques to engage their blocks, and me knowing how they’re going to engage their blocks, and me knowing where they expect me to be at (any) point in time.”
That’s not to say Cadet all of a sudden expects to become a traditional tailback. He’s spent the vast bulk of his NFL career returning kickoffs (35 for 929 yards) and covering kicks on special teams (12 tackles). Every once in a while, he’s been called on to catch passes (seven for 49 yards).
“I know what my role is, and I know I’m going to be used in a whole lot of different situations,” said Cadet, who accepted his value to the Saints so far has largely depended on his willingness and ability to do a tad of everything.
But he wanted to give himself the best chance of maximizing what he’s aware will be limited touches on an offense that includes higher-profile pass catchers such as Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks.
It’s an offense that features higher-profile running backs in Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.
Cadet likened the prospect of defending the Saints’ offense to trying to guard a house against people who have nine sets of keys to it.
“At any given time, anybody can strike (at any door),” said Cadet, the first-choice kickoff return at this year’s training camp. “You don’t know which door to cover.”
So he assigned himself the task of better understanding how his offensive linemen open holes and where on the field they do it in the ground game. His laboratories for that were film and meeting rooms; and, after lots of viewing and asked questions, it’s paying dividends for Cadet, according to Ingram.
“When he sees a little crease, he’ll stick his foot in the ground and hit it,” Ingram remarked. “He’s not just a receiver anymore. He can run inside, he can run outside, he can take the toss, and he can still do everything he can out of the backfield as far as running routes.”
Cadet said, “You just have to take advantage of your opportunity. If I can have two (handoffs) for 100 yards or two catches for 100 yards, that makes it a lot easier.”