- Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
- Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
- Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate
METAIRIE, La. — Chris Olave’s first day of New Orleans Saints rookie camp technically was Friday. The 11th overall pick in the NFL draft, however, has already spent most of the past two weeks getting familiar with his new running mate, Michael Thomas, in their shared home base of Southern California.
Thomas welcomed the fellow former Ohio State receiver over FaceTime shortly after he was drafted — and then invited Olave to come stay with him and work out.
“I couldn’t turn that down,” said Olave, who spent a week and half with Thomas before flying to New Orleans for this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
It wasn’t the first time they had worked out together, though. Thomas shared a picture on draft night from when they had done the same thing a year ago.
“I feel like that was exactly a year ago,” Olave said. “That was cool being out there with him. And finally being on the same team is gonna be huge, I can’t wait.
“He kind of showed love to me since college, so we’d text back and forth every now and then. … I feel like we have the same mindset. We both want to dominate. We’re both competitors. Just when we get on the field, we turn into a different person. Just knowing him and knowing he’s on the other side of the field, that’s gonna make us better and make us go hard.”
Olave said he likes Thomas’ “dog” mentality and laughed when he said he has seen it up close over the past two weeks.
“I see it, man. I see the way he works,” Olave said. “If he drops a pass, he’s punting the ball, he gets mad. But that’s who you want around you. I feel like that’s gonna make you better. He’s gonna call you out on your b.s.
“So I like Mike as a teammate. Even as a person, I understand him, where he comes from. I see why he goes so hard.”
Olave already counts Washington Commanders star Terry McLaurin as a mentor and “big brother” that he has emulated since they were teammates at Ohio State.
And now he can add Jarvis Landry to his impressive list of mentors after the five-time Pro Bowler agreed to a deal with the Saints on Friday.
Olave said he heard the “huge” news as he was coming off the practice field.
“I can’t wait to learn from them, those two legends,” Olave said of Thomas and Landry. “I just started playing receiver my junior year of high school. Coming here and having Mike Thomas, Jarvis Landry help me, I have a lot of room for development, I can’t wait to max that out.
“I’ve watched a lot of film on Jarvis, just his short movement quickness. I watched a lot of film on him in college, trying to take some stuff out of his game. And Mike is one of the best receivers in the game, so of course I watch him. But to see them in person, see how they work in person I feel like it’s gonna help me a lot.”
New Orleans’ receiver room has undertaken one of the most radical transformations of any position group in the NFL this offseason. The Saints finished an uncharacteristic 32nd in the league in passing offense last year — in large part due to major injuries to Thomas, quarterback Jameis Winston and the offensive line.
Now Thomas is expected to return after missing the full season with an ankle injury, along with newcomers Olave and Landry.
“(Landry) has obviously been a really good player in our league. He’s a guy that can move the chains. And we feel like he’s guy from a character standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, we can use,” said new Saints coach Dennis Allen, who was asked if he has heard from any LSU fans in the area that are excited about the additions of Landry and Tyrann Mathieu.
“Well, yeah, my whole neighborhood I think has sent me a text in some form or fashion,” Allen said.
As for Olave, Allen said two days of rookie camp is a “small sample size.” But so far the 6-foot-1, 189-pounder is “what we thought he would be.”
“A guy that is really fast, smooth in transition, good route runner,” Allen said. “And look, ultimately, he’s the type of character person that we wanted to bring into the building. And I think that’s as important as anything.”
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