A conversation with Charles Grant is nothing if not entertaining.
When the longtime New Orleans Saints defensive lineman was asked Monday about how his new team, the Miami Dolphins, might fare this season, he replied, "This team's got a chance. An old country guy like me, you know, you go hunting sometimes and you walk up on a snake in the bushes. That's the kind of team this one is.
"Lay low, and when the time comes, show the world."
Grant, 31, grew up in Colquitt, Ga., and spent his first eight NFL seasons down on the bayou with the Saints, so his rich Southern drawl and mannerisms are no act. But as Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard found out this weekend, this "old country guy" can still pack a wallop.
Playing left defensive end in a 3-4 scheme he admits he's still learning, Grant broke into the backfield twice in one series, knocking Garrard to the ground with his first hit and out of the game with his second.
Released by the Saints last March despite playing all 16 games each of the last five seasons, Grant was one of three defensive linemen signed by Miami in late July after Phillip Merling was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Of the three — the other two are Marques Douglas and Montavious Stanley — he's made by far the most impact .
"His productivity has been good in the two (exhibition ) games," coach Tony Sparano said. "I've seen him getting better in the two-gap defense right now, which is completely different for him."
Grant played in a 4-3 his entire career with the Saints and has been getting extra help after practice from defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers to help him learn the 3-4.
"The first two weeks I had a lot of mental errors," he said. "I was having to think a lot, and when you're having to think too much you can't really play.
"This D-line is a great D-line," Grant added. "Coach Kacy does a great job making sure his defensive line knows what can happen in every situation in a game, and I like that in a defensive line coach. I've had five of them, and he's one of the top two I've had."
The other, he said, is Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who earned a name for himself when he spoke openly about his guys going after Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Grant said Williams reminds him of Miami's first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. "They're both aggressive and they know what they're doing."
Grant has a ring from the Saints' Super Bowl victory even though he wasn't a part of it. He tore his triceps in Week 17 — ironically, the Colts rested most of their starters that week, but the Saints did not — and missed the post-season.
Just weeks after claiming the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Sun Life Stadium, the Saints cut Grant loose, three years into a seven-year, $63 million contract with $20 million guaranteed.
"They weren't getting enough production out of a guy making a whole lot of money," Saints radio analyst Hokie Gajan said. "But he's still a talented player, and a delightful guy. If he keeps himself in shape and keeps his weight down, he'll be good for Miami."
Grant, who signed a two-year deal worth a comparatively modest $4.5 million, said the snub from the Saints was all the motivation he needed.
"When you're accustomed to being somewhere and think you're going to retire there," Grant said, "you've got to be the first one to kick yourself in the behind and say, 'you were in a place where you got comfortable. Now nobody knows you.'
"This is a great thing for me. I can go home after practice, study my playbook, and nobody knows who I am. I just want to get to work and be apart of a great football team."