As we count down from 50 days until the New Orleans Saints begin their regular season in Atlanta, on September 7th, we're getting to know a little bit about those players who have signed on to bring home another Lombardi trophy.
Today, we take a brief look at wide receiver Charles Hawkins and center/guard Tim Lelito!
So, with no more ado:
18 DAYS UNTIL ATLANTA!!!
#18 WR Charles Hawkins (1st Year)
A native of New Orleans, Charles Hawkins was signed by the Saints at the end of the 2013 regular season, after a preseason with the Cardinals and two weeks on the Lions practice squad. He was originally picked up by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Southern University following the 2013 NFL Draft. Although he tied for the team's lead with 11 receptions -- for a team-best 209 yards -- during his first preseason, he did not make the final roster. The Detroit Lions then signed him to their practice squad within a few weeks of his release, but they dropped him two weeks later, at the beginning of last October. The Saints grabbed him towards the end of December.
A high school standout at St. Augustine in New Orleans, Hawkins has always been a fan of the Saints. When he left home, he went to college at nearby Southern University, in Baton Rouge, where he hauled in 71 passes for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns over 34 games. He also added 81 yards on 15 punt returns, and 362 yards and one touchdown on 14 kick returns.
Now in his second NFL preseason, the 5-foot-8 cousin to Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton has been trying out for his hometown team as both a wide receiver and a return man.
2 yr(s) / $930,000 Average $465,000 per year through 2015.
#68 C/G Tim Lelito (2nd Year)
Lelito is one of several UDFA success stories in the Payton-Loomis era. He was picked up by the Saints as an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State after last year's draft, and went on to appear in all 16 games of his rookie season, with two starts at right guard in place of Jahri Evans. Saints fans may remember the rookie Lelito receiving the game ball for his inspirational performance during his second career start, when he stepped in for Evans following participation in only one short practice after the passing of his grandmother, who adopted him and his brother and raised them since Tim was age four.
Following the success of his rookie season, Lelito has a lot of pressure on him going into his second year in the NFL. The Saints have asked him to perform as center for Drew Brees, and the young offensive lineman has spent the preseason competing with veteran Jonathan Goodwin, the starting center for the Saints 2009 championship team.
New Orleans is putting a lot of faith in the young developing center, whose performance this preseason has been comparable to that of the veteran the Saints brought back this offseason. Even though the two are competing for the starting slot, however, Goodwin has been helping to teach and train his own replacement. At the moment, Lelito is expected to start at center in September, with his mentor serving in a backup role for the season.
3 yr(s) / $1,490,000. Average $496,667 per year through 2015.