METAIRIE, La. — Chris Olave’s first day of New Orleans Saints rookie camp was technically Friday. However, the 11th overall pick of the NFL draft has already spent most of the past two weeks getting acquainted with new running mate Michael Thomas at their shared home base in Southern California.
Thomas greeted the former Ohio State receiver via FaceTime shortly after his draft – and then invited Olave to stay with him and train.
“I couldn’t turn that down,” said Olave, who spent a week and a half with Thomas before flying to New Orleans for this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
However, it wasn’t the first time they trained together. Thomas shared a picture on draft night when they did the same thing a year ago.
“I feel like it’s been exactly a year,” Olave said. “It was cool to be out there with him. And finally being on the same team will be huge, I can’t wait.
“He’s kind of shown me love since college, so we texted back and forth every now and then. … I have a feeling that we have the same attitude. We both want to dominate. We are both competitors. Only when we get on the field do we transform into a different person. Knowing him and knowing that he’s on the other side of the field will make us better and push us hard.
Olave said he likes Thomas’ “dog” mentality and laughed as he said he’d seen it up close over the past two weeks.
“I see it, man. I see how he works,” Olave said. “If he drops a pass, he punts the ball, he gets angry. But that’s who you want around you. I have a feeling this will make you better
“That’s why I like Mike as a teammate. I also understand him as a person, where he comes from. I see why he’s going so hard.”
Olave already counts Washington Commanders star Terry McLaurin as his mentor and “big brother” who he has aspired to since they were teammates in 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 “big” news when he got off the practice field.
“I can’t wait to learn from them, these two legends,” Olave said of Thomas and Landry. “I just started playing receiver in my junior year of high school. Coming here with Mike Thomas and Jarvis Landry helping me gives me a lot of room to grow, I can’t wait to get the most out of it.
“I’ve seen a lot of movies about Jarvis, just his speed with short movements. I saw a lot of movies about him in college and tried to get something out of his game. And Mike is one of the best receivers in the game, so of course I’m watching him. But seeing them in person, seeing them work in person, I feel like it’s going to help me a lot.
The New Orleans receiving room made one of the most radical changes of any positional 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 serious injuries to Thomas, quarterback Jameis Winston and the offensive line.
Now Thomas is expected to return after missing the entire season with an ankle injury, alongside newcomers Olave and Landry.
“(Landry) was obviously a really good player in our league. He’s a chain-moving guy Allen, who was asked if he’d heard from LSU fans in the area excited about the additions of Landry and Tyrann Mathieu.
“Well, yeah, my whole neighborhood texted me, I think, in one form or another,” Allen said.
Regarding Olave, Allen said two days of rookie camp was a “small sample size.” But so far the 6-foot-1, 189-pounder is “what we thought it was”.
“A guy who’s really fast, smooth in transition, good route runner,” Allen said. “And look, ultimately he’s the kind of character we wanted to bring into the building. And I think that’s as important as anything else.”