Veteran DB Chris Carr praised by Saints coaches for his intelligence and veteran savvy

Chris Carr figured he'd get comfortable with the Saints' new defense soon enough.

The ninth-year cornerback, who started for one of the NFL's top defenses in Baltimore three seasons ago, now aims to establish a regular role in New Orleans under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was also Carr's coordinator in Oakland at the beginning of his career.

"I know what Rob wants. I remember a lot of the calls that he used to call in Oakland. I know how he wants players to play," Carr said. "I've started at safety, cornerback, and nickelback for him before, and so at this point in my career, I'm willing to do whatever I can just to help out."

During training camp, Carr has been working as a reserve cornerback and return man.

His veteran savvy showed when the Saints held their first scrimmage last weekend. He intercepted one pass, nearly had another interception on a pass-breakup and caused another turnover when he jumped inside of receiver Nick Toon's slant route and tipped a pass that linebacker David Hawthorne intercepted.

"I expect to go out there and make plays," Carr said. "I feel like if I am healthy and know what I am doing then I can go out there and play well."

Later, a knowing grin widened on Ryan's face when the subject of Carr's performance came up.

"I called that one. He's a pro," Ryan said. "I've coached this guy for a lot of years now. He's an outstanding football player. He's so smart. I think he's probably going to be a lawyer or a doctor — probably both — when he's done."

The 5-foot-10, 181-pound Carr, who played in college at Boise State, joined the NFL in 2005 with Oakland as an undrafted rookie. He played for San Diego last season and also has played for Tennessee.

He's played in 114 career games, starting 27. He has six career interceptions, one of which he returned for a score.

His 201 kickoff returns for 4,841 yards in three seasons with Oakland remains a Raiders career mark.

Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that when the Saints signed Car in June, they were looking to add depth to their secondary with "a veteran player that understands defense and has had snaps" in the NFL.

Payton said Carr's special teams experience helps, but added, "Mainly, his workout was good. We felt like he had flexibility with what he could do position-wise. We felt like he was a smart player. That was one thing we knew, prior to the workout."

Despite his relatively recent arrival, gaining respect in the locker room hasn't been a problem, Carr said.

"They know that I came from Baltimore where I played with a lot of great defensive players like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis," Carr said, adding that he also tries to help younger defensive backs learn from his experience. "If someone out there needs advice, you help them out because you know when you are on this team, you need to have that chemistry and you need to be able to talk with your teammates. It's only going to help you out. So I think they sensed that once I came in and everybody has been really great."

Notes: DE Kenyon Coleman left practice with what Payton said was a chest injury. ... Seven players sat out practice, including veteran LB Jonathan Vilma, who missed his second straight practice. Payton said the 10th-year player was just given those practices off to rest. Payton did not provide an update on WR Joe Morgan's left knee injury after saying Monday that the team was seeking a second opinion. ... Also out were LBs Martez Wilson (left elbow), Eric Martin (undisclosed), Ray Shipman (hamstring), receiver Andy Tanner (right shoulder) and defensive end Tom Johnson (hip). Payton said he did not see Martin's undisclosed injury as "a significant setback" and expected the rookie back within a week.