The list of things Garrett Grayson has learned from Drew Brees in the 13 months since they became New Orleans Saints teammates would undoubtedly be long.
But one thing would stand above the rest.
“I don’t think you could ever be too perfect with your footwork,” Grayson said. “That’s something I learned from No. 9. He constantly, every single day after practice, he’s constantly working on his footwork to make sure his shoulders are aligned to make the right throw.”
With the Saints having completed their offseason training program Thursday, Grayson will spend a significant portion of the six weeks before training camp working to improve his footwork.
He will do so under the watch of Jeff Christensen, the president and CEO of the Throw It Deep quarterback and receiver training academy in Illinois. Grayson previously worked with Christensen in the months before the Saints selected the Colorado State product in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Those workouts were to prepare him for the combine and various pro-day workouts.
These upcoming training sessions will take place in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where each of Grayson’s throws will be video recorded and reviewed by Christensen.
“If you got bad feet, I promise you’re not playing quarterback in the NFL,” said Christensen, who added that 90 percent of his teaching focused on the placement and angles of feet, knees and hips.
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Christensen, who spent eight seasons in the NFL in the 1980s, listed Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins among current NFL quarterbacks with whom he is working. Joining Grayson in Idaho will be Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.
“I just hammer the information at them, that so much of this is what you’re doing below your waist,” Christensen said by phone. “It’s old-school teaching, how we were taught when I was a kid, and the (current players) actually gravitate to it because they have never been taught that way. It’s actually kind of fresh with them because so few people do it.”
Christensen will spend the next six weeks coaching quarterbacks with few breaks, as he will be in Idaho for workouts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays, in Miami for Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, and in Chicago for a weekly camp with 120 high school players on Sundays.
Grayson will spend at least parts of the next two weeks in Idaho to work with Christensen and his assistants, and he will meet with Christensen again in Chicago for about a week before the Saints report to training camp in late July.
“What I know about Garrett is this: He wants the information,” Christensen said.
Christensen credited Grayson for his punctuality and willingness to work.
“And that’s a lot of this battle,” Christensen said. “I’m excited for him. I think he’s going to be a great one.”
In between those sessions with Christensen, Grayson will spend time with family in his home state of Washington, and he will go to Colorado State for throwing sessions with current college receivers, he said.
Grayson joined the Saints more than a year ago thinking he could make a run for the backup spot behind Brees. He learned quickly there was more to the NFL than anything he experienced in college.
“I came in wanting to be that backup guy, being the No. 2 guy,” Grayson said. “As a competitor, you always want to be in that next spot with a chance to play.”
But once he realized the jump it would take to play within what he said most believed was one of the more complex offenses in the NFL, he was glad to learn from Brees and veteran backup Luke McCown.
Those two have more combined seasons of experience than years Grayson has been alive.
“They know so much more about the game,” Grayson said. “Trying to learn that, plus learn the offense. … I was kind of happy they were both here. That’s 30 years of experience that I can kind of pick up on.”
Grayson admits to being more confident during the OTA and minicamp sessions in recent weeks than he was a year ago. He has a better command of the offense, and he could be heard calling audibles at the line of scrimmage during the minicamp.
And yet there will always be ways to get better. His hope is to rejoin the Saints after his sessions with Christensen with improved skills.
“I go into this with an open mind,” Grayson said of the six-week break before training camp. “If he gives me something to work on, I listen. He’s been around John Elway and other quarterbacks that did very well in the NFL. I think he has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing.”