Backup role at home good fit for Saints’ Ramsey

Even though Patrick Ramsey won’t take a meaningful snap unless

Drew Brees gets hurt, the reserve quarterback said is happy to be

home again.

Ramsey, a nine-year NFL veteran, gave up hope of competing for a

starting job when he signed with the Saints on the eve of training

camp, but life as a backup is much more palatable with family and

friends nearby.

Ramsey played college football at Tulane, which shares the

Louisiana Superdome with the Saints. He and his wife, Virginia,

grew up in Ruston, La., about a 300-mile drive from New

Orleans.

”The longer you go at this, with kids especially, you kind of

embrace having family around,” said Ramsey, who has two young

daughters. ”It’s just the small things. If we have a road game and

were out of town, she can just drive home and stay with her family

or stay at our house up there.”

Eight years after the Washington Redskins took him in the first

round of the draft, Ramsey is battling second-year undrafted free

agent Chase Daniel for the spot behind Brees on the Saints depth

chart. Rookie seventh-round pick Sean Canfield is next on the depth

chart.

Coach Sean Payton said he had not decided whether he’ll keep two

or three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster when the season

starts.

Predictably, Ramsey’s first week of practice has been scratchy

as he tries to learn a new system on the fly.

”I’m still working at it,” he said. ”It’s a lot to digest.

It’s like learning how to say the same thing in a different

language at times, and sometimes it’s an entirely new

concept.”

In a two-minute drill at the Saints’ indoor facility during

Thursday morning’s practice, he kept a drive alive by completing a

45-yard deep ball to Courtney Robey on fourth-and-16.

On the next play, he had a miscommunication with wideout Rod

Harper and hit safety Reggie Jones in the chest for any easy

interception.

”He’s got a live arm,” Payton said. ”I’m pleased with his

ability to pick up our offense and run it. There will be little

nuances he will continue to work on, but overall he’s handling it

well.”

Ramsey, who started 23 times in his first three seasons with the

Redskins, has grown accustomed to being a backup. His last start

came in 2005. Aside from a 46-pass day in relief of an injured Jay

Cutler for Denver in 2007, he has thrown six times in the last four

years. He never left the sideline in stints with Tennessee and

Detroit a year ago while recuperating from 2008 elbow surgery.

His goals in New Orleans are different than they were early in

his career.

”If Drew doesn’t miss a snap, being a success for me is making

our defense better while running the scout team against them,”

Ramsey said. ”I’ll learn from Drew and always be ready to go out

there and run our offense efficiently.”

If he is no more than a cheerleader from the sideline for the

defending Super Bowl champs, he’ll accept that, too. His NFL teams

have finished with winning record only twice in his eight years.

Although he won in the classroom at Tulane, earning a double major

in accounting and finance, the Green Wave never earned a bowl bid

in his three years as a starter.

He hopes that’s the other advantage of returning to his home

state.

”At this point in my career I just want to win games,” Ramsey

said. ”I asked Chase do you realize how lucky you are to have won

(a Super Bowl) in your first year? I don’t know what it feels like

to win one after playing eight years.”

Notes: Tight end Jeremy Shockey returned after missing seven

practices with a sore knee. … Linebacker Scott Shanle (sprained

left knee) missed his third consecutive day. Cornerbacks Tracy

Porter (back spasms) and Patrick Robinson (hamstring) sat out after

getting hurt Wednesday morning. Defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson

rested as a precaution after having knee surgery in January. …

Daniel produced the only touchdown in the two-minute drill, hitting

rookie tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone on fourth-and-16

against the second-team defense. Brees yelled in frustration when

his fourth-down pass glanced of receiver Marques Colston’s hands.

All drives started at the offense’s 25 with 1:58 left on the clock.

… Garrett Hartley connected on a 60-yard field goal during

practice, then missed his next two from 38 and 41 yards. … The

Saints’ Black and Gold scrimmage has been set for noon ET Saturday

and will be open to the public, weather permitting.