Undrafted free agents come into the NFL knowing they have an uphill battle to make a team’s active roster. For the 2020 rookie class, it’s even more difficult to make the roster in the COVID-19 offseason with reduced practices and no preseason games. In those limited opportunities, former Tennessee wide receiver Marquez Callaway has managed to get the attention of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

“There’s been glimpses. He has speed. He had a few snaps today where you see it in special teams. He certainly has the one, two. He’s, obviously, learning at a very quick pace, because this whole group they’re coming in at a little bit of a disadvantage,” Payton said of Callaway during a recent media session.

Practices have increased importance for players like Callaway who are competing for a spot on the roster.

“We talked about this last night,” Payton continued when asked about Callaway. “They’re coming in without maybe the foundation they normally would have. Then the other element that they’re having to deal with is without playing any preseason games, how do we know who these guys are? We talked about this a night ago, telling a story about making a first impression. So these practices, in essence, become their preseason games.

“All of its being evaluated, but he’s a player we’re looking closely at, I’ve been encouraged with some of his progress.”

Callaway played in 35 games over 4 seasons at UT (2016-19), catching 92 passes for 1,646 yards and 13 touchdowns. He posted his highest yardage (635) and touchdown (6) numbers last season.