Saints' Cadet looking to avoid fumbles
Saints running back Travaris Cadet knows he has to hold on to the football.
One of the surprise players from last year's training camp, Cadet fumbled twice during the Saints' 28-20 preseason victory against the Oakland Raiders last Friday night.
The Raiders recovered one fumble, a Saints teammate recovered the other.
Though neither cost the Saints on the scoreboard, coach Sean Payton said of Cadet's fumbles, ''that can't happen.''
''Really, it's no excuses,'' Cadet said. ''Ball security is the No. 1 thing you need to have in this league because when you lose the turnover battle, you put yourself and your team in a bad hole.
''When you get knocked down, you have to get back up. You get knocked down 12 (times), you get back up 13.''
Cadet returned to practice this week intent on focusing on the present, knowing perhaps that his future in New Orleans might depend on how he responds to adversity.
''(Cadet) is a very diligent worker and very conscientious player; those are all very good traits,'' said Payton, who missed Cadet's rookie season in 2012 while serving a season-long suspension for his role in the bounty scandal. ''And I think he will respond the right way.''
Both of Cadet's fumbles came in the third quarter and were part of an error-filled period for the Saints, who saw the Raiders cut a 23-7 halftime deficit to 27-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
On the first fumble, Raiders safety Brandian Ross used his helmet to pry the ball from Cadet's grasp with defensive end Jack Crawford recovering at the Oakland 43. But the Saints defense forced a punt.
On Cadet's second fumble, the Saints avoided potential disaster when guard Tim Lelito pounced on the ball at the New Orleans 3.
''These mistakes are on me,'' Cadet said. ''I point the finger at nobody. Things like that happen. You can't keep thinking about it through practices because if you continue to keep thinking about it, it's going to keep happening.
''You can't dwell on the past. You have to move on, and that's the way you be great. I'm going to learn from them and get better.''
The sooner the better for Cadet, who is trying to fend off a challenge from undrafted rookie Khiry Robinson of West Texas A&M.
The top three spots belong to veteran running backs Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Cadet appears to be the next in line because of his NFL experience and versatility, though Robinson is making a strong case for himself in training camp.
Cadet has accounted for 78 all-purpose yards - 35 yards on 18 carries, 22 yards on two catches and 21 yards on two punt returns.
Robinson has accounted for 145 yards from scrimmage - a team-high 102 yards rushing on 22 carries and 43 yards receiving on four catches.
Robinson is making a good case for getting a roster spot in the preseason, much as Cadet did a year ago when he came from being an undrafted rookie free agent from Appalachian State to become the fifth running back on the final 53-man roster.
Cadet may need a strong finish in the remaining preseason games against the Texans on Sunday and at Miami on Aug. 29 to keep his job.
''What happened to Cadet easily could have happened to me,'' Robinson said. ''With my running style, sometimes the ball comes out. It's just a mistake you've got to learn from.''
NOTES: Saints running back Pierre Thomas is expected to see his first action of the preseason Sunday. He has missed the first two preseason games with an undisclosed injury. ... Payton said he expected most of the starters will play at least the first half. ... Wide receiver Marques Colston (foot) and LB Will Herring (undisclosed injury) are game-time decisions. ... LB Jonathan Vilma (knee), OLB Martez Wilson (elbow), FB Jed Collins (undisclosed), OLB Junior Galette (knee) and LB Chris Chamberlain (excused absence) will not play.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org