Two summers ago, St. Clair’s Tim Lelito was trying to crack an NFL roster after going undrafted.
Now, leading up to his third season with the New Orleans Saints, he’s staring at a starting position on the offensive line right in the face.
Websites like http://www.cbssports.com, http://www.espn.com and http://www.ourlads.com have Lelito as the starting left guard in their projected depth charts. Of course, as Lelito has quickly learned in his two full NFL seasons, there are no guarantees in one of the world’s most demanding sports leagues.
At last week’s Lelito Legacy Camp at St. Clair High School, I got to fire Lelito some questions about his NFL experience and what he anticipates heading into the 2015-16 season. And no, I didn’t try to coax him into guaranteeing a Super Bowl.
Matt Sheehan: You just wrapped up your second NFL season, how was that for you? Do you feel like you’re really comfortable now?
Tim Lelito: I don’t think you’re ever comfortable in the NFL, but it is a lot better. I was a lot better with the plays and even though they had me moved over to center, which was a new territory, it was better (than the first season) because I did that all during practice … I had to start two games and that’s what football is all about. You can’t be the weak link, and that means practicing like a starter every day.
MS: You also have some new faces on the line with Max Unger (six year veteran, traded from Seattle) and Andrus Peat (first round draft pick from Stanford), what’s that like to welcome two new guys to the offensive line?
TL: I think Andrus will be great. He’s a little behind the eight ball because Stanford is on a quarterly schedule so he had to stay at Stanford and graduate, so he missed some practice and conditioning. But he’s good, he’s got all the tools. When he grows into his body a little bit, he’ll be good.
And Max is so smart, he’s very efficient. I’m really excited to play next to him.
MS: I haven’t gotten to talk to you since you played in Detroit (on Oct. 19), how awesome was that to play here a few miles from where you lived?
TL: To play here was actually awesome. I had school teachers there I saw before the game, so that was cool going over and giving them a hug. It was cool coming to play in the home state and playing in front of the “home crowd.”
MS: Was that the highlight of the season for you?
TL: Well, I’ll say it was the highlight of the season for me, but for the team it wasn’t. We were up 13 points with, what, three minutes left?
MS: Yeah, but who remembers that?
TL: Oh right, that doesn’t still sting at all (heavy sarcasm). No, I hate losing.
MS: Now you also have Detroit coming to New Orleans this season on Monday Night Football (Dec. 21). Are you as excited for that as you were to come to Detroit last year?
TL: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I’m excited for every game. My job is in the classroom and the o-line room … Sundays are the fun part — every single Sunday or Monday is a good day.
Contact Matt Sheehan at (810)-989-6267 or email@example.com. He’s on Twitter @Sheehan_Sports.