Saints offensive lineman Max Garcia waits for the call
New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Max Garcia is essentially an anonymous figure on the team’s 53 man roster.
The 6-foot-4, 309-pound veteran has been involved in his fair share of NFL scrums, appearing in 105 contests with 59 starts. As a backup with the Saints, he remains vigilant knowing his number can be called at a moment’s notice.
“You hope not to be in that position because that means someone went down,” Garcia said. “You just have to always stay ready. When I’m on the sideline, I try to stay loose, stay ready. You don’t have a lot of time to get into a mindset. I lock into center and stay ready or whatever position I may have to go in and play.”
A fifth round draft pick of the Denver Broncos out of the University of Florida in the 2015 NFL Draft, he enjoyed the heights of NFL team success quickly. As a rookie, Garcia made 16 appearances with five starts at right guard and left guard for the Super Bowl-bound Broncos. He played in 79 total snaps that season. Denver beat Carolina to win Super Bowl L in Levi’s Stadium.
Garcia’s first start came against the Patriots on November 29, 2015. The next two seasons, he recorded 32 starts at left guard. A torn ACL in 2018 limited him to five starts.
With the Arizona Cardinals for three seasons (2019-21)ad one more with the Giants under his belt, Garcia signed with the Saints right before training camp. Focused on backing up starting center Erik McCoy, he doesn’t favor any particular position.
“It’s whichever position I’ve been practicing lately. Right now I feel most comfortable at center. I’ve played most of my snaps at left guard, second most at right guard. When I’m playing those spots, I’m comfortable there.”
The challenges at each spot on the offensive line have nuance.
“Whenever you move along the o-line, it’s mental, it’s physical. Your body position is completely different depending on where you line up. A lot of people don’t realize how valuable a guy who can play multiple positions is.”
The offensive line is the most unique position on the field, regardless of the level of play. It is a learned position one is not born to play. Effort is vital. It is the most misunderstood position for outsiders. You must play with controlled aggression. It is the most disciplined position on the field.
“Offensive line is a brotherhood,” Garcia declared. “A lot of people don’t know how tough it is to play there. We look out for one another. That makes us so close. That’s why we usually have fun as a group outside of the building. No one understands what we go through physically and mentally. It’s the tightest unit on every team. If the unit is not close, you’re probably not going to be successful as a team.”
Now with his fourth NFL employer, Garcia values the organizational atmosphere in New Orleans.
“absolutely, as soon as I stepped into the facility I knew that this is a family oriented team, something that I haven’t experienced since the Super Bowl ( Denver). I’m excited to be here. I feel like this team has what it takes to get there, from top on down. We have everything that we need to get there. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Another first-year Saints veteran, quarterback Derek Carr, has Garcia’s respect.
“He’s just so confident. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so confident, so poised. When he’s taking his drop backs, he really trusts the O-Line. When we’re in the huddle, every play that he calls sounds like it’s going to be a home run. Whether it’s a running play or a pass play, that’s the way he calls it. He can be the guy who takes us there with his leadership. He’s beaten teams that I’ve been on. I’ve see him work up close. He has what it takes.”
Another draw to the Saints was the rabid fan base.
“As soon as I got to New Orleans, I could tell the energy was different here. The Saints are New Orleans. This is a football town, a football city. There are Saints logos everywhere. It’s a lot like Denver in that respect. The fans are just so loyal to the team and the players. Everywhere that I go if the fans recognize you they always want a picture with you. It’s a lot of love here wherever you go. It’s a place where you really want to play.”
Two players he closely modeled his game after were twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, both members of the 2018 Florida National Championship squad who went on to high-level NFL success.
“I always looked at the Pounceys,” Garcia explained. “They were the guys that I watched when I was learning the game, especially them being Gators. I always watched them in college and in the League. I liked their style of play, aggressive, gritty, physical guys. I may not be the most talented, but I’m going to be aggressive. I will fight you in the box.”
The 31-year old Garcia is a hard worker in the weight room who has the skills to handle himself and huge defensive linemen in the trenches. He shoots his hands quickly to gain the advantage on an opponent. He’s been called a phone booth mauler. He also can be trusted to recognize and pick up stunts or twists.
The Saints know the offensive line is a thin area around the league. The experienced Garcia waiting in the wings makes for a comforting backup plan.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to play football at LSU, developing a passion for the game in even greater fashion while in…