Under Sean Payton’s glare, New Orleans Saints rookie Garrett Grayson showing ‘thick skin’

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton didn't like the look of the offense when it broke the huddle at one point on Sunday, so he ordered them to do it over again.

"We know you can rap," Payton growled at rookie quarterback Garrett Grayson, "but can you play quarterback?"

Grayson, a Vancouver, Wash., native who favors country music, is not embarking on a rap career. Payton was referring to the rookie talent show performance in which Grayson led the group in a rousing rendition of R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)".

"He said I could rap, so I guess that's a good thing," Grayson said after Sunday's practice.

Payton, a former quarterback himself, would be glad to hear that his rookie is taking the criticism in stride.

Quarterbacks, Payton said, must have "thick skin" if they have any hope of prospering in the NFL.

"You've got to get up to speed quickly with what we're doing, how to verbalize it and then how to go out and execute it," Payton said. "I've seen that first hand with Bill (Parcells) and Tony (Romo) in his early years and we'll do the same here with Garrett. The ship's not waiting. It goes. You've got to get up to speed with it."

Grayson, the youngest of three quarterbacks in camp behind starter Drew Brees, said he's been working diligently to do just that.

The nature of running a complex NFL offense is that actually throwing the football is just a small part of the requirement.

The first hurdle, Grayson said, is "just spitting out the play correctly."

"We've got some plays that are 18, 20 words long," he said.

After verbalizing the play, next comes "getting in the right formation, lining up correctly and completing the pass."

Grayson said the end of that list will get easier as he gets more comfortable with the beginning.

"I think that just comes with time in knowing the offense," he said. "I felt that way in college. My first year with coach Mac (Jim McElwain), my sophomore year, I wasn't as comfortable, so it took me a while. You get through your reads slower. Your feet won't be right. Little things like that."

Grayson said it's been an "honor" to work alongside Brees, and he's gotten a close-up view of his perfectionism.

"If he has an incomplete pass, he is upset. He takes everything very seriously and if it doesn't go perfectly, he wants to do it again," Grayson said. "Everything he does has a rhyme or reason to it. It's obviously paid off for him."

As the youngest and newest member of the Saints' quarterback club, Grayson said he's endured only the mildest of hazing, like fetching water or a playbook.

"I'm totally fine with it," he said.

But Grayson will turn down any requests for a musical encore.

"My singing's done," he said. "I'm retired."

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