Cadet wants to seize 'great opportunity'

METAIRIE, La. -- It's hard to imagine running back Travaris Cadet playing a huge role for the New Orleans Saints this year because he's stuck in such a deep position group.

But then again, it's hard to ignore how many opportunities the third-year pro has been getting so far in offseason practices -- and how well he's taking advantage of them.

Cadet has been showing off his speed and elusiveness while both running the football and catching passes out of the backfield.

If he keeps this up throughout training camp and the preseason, Cadet may indeed get a chance to take over a big chunk of that runner/receiver role that Darren Sproles played in New Orleans' offense before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

"I feel like it's a great opportunity. You know, Sproles is gone now and that's in the past. But I learned a lot from Sproles while he was here," said Cadet, who said he's been trying to prove he can run the football as well as catch passes and return kickoffs.

"(I want to be) a complete player in all areas, not being a master of a few things but a master of everything. I want to be a mastermind of every position they ask me to play," Cadet said. "This is an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime. I'm going to do my best to take advantage of the opportunity. And just take it one day at a time, keep working."

Even with Sproles gone, Cadet is still behind running backs Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in the current hierarchy -- and the Saints would probably love to find more touches for all three of those guys, as well.

Plus, rookie receiver Brandin Cooks is expected to be used in some of the same ways Sproles was at times, catching screens and possibly running the ball on occasion to take advantage of his speed in open space.

But you can never doubt Saints coach Sean Payton's ability to find creative uses for talented offensive weapons like Cadet, who could be yet another mismatch in New Orleans' diverse offense.

And the Saints have clearly been high enough on Cadet to keep him around the last two years, when the backfield was just as crowded.

Cadet had no rushing attempts last year and just two catches for 5 yards -- though one of them was a 3-yard touchdown catch at New England. As a rookie in 2011, Cadet had five catches for 44 yards and one rush for 5 yards.

His role expanded even more last year as a kickoff returner, where he projects to be the No. 1 guy this year. Cadet returned nine kickoffs last season for an average of 26.6 yards and 26 kickoffs in 2012 for an average of 26.5 yards.

Payton seemed impressed by Cadet's overall progress when asked if he could basically take over some of Sproles' plays in the Saints' offense.

"I think a year ago, I don't know that I would have been able to tell you that," Payton said. "The focus for him was the running game per se. Even when he came here in 2012, he was with the receivers (some). That element with regards to running routes and catching the football, he would be further ahead. But we saw him last year as a guy who transitioned that we handed the ball to. That's something he's worked hard on.

"He's a guy with good hands, he's sudden with a good change of direction. And I think that is one of the things we'll look for in this upcoming training camp. He's been able to do a lot of the things we've asked Darren to do in the passing game. You just keep building on that. He's a good young talent."