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Saints’ backup QBs grilling on a budget

NEW ORLEANS – With the NFL lockout putting the squeeze on both his wallet and pursuit of a pro football career, former Connecticut quarterback Tyler Lorenzen has created some of the latest culinary innovations in the Big Easy, just so he can eat at home and save a little coin.

Lorenzen insists that his twist on chicken fajitas, with cottage cheese replacing more fattening sour cream, is delicious, even if it may never quite garner much of a reputation.

“It’s better for you and it just tastes good,” said the clean-cut, 6-foot-5, 245-pound Lorenzen, who is under contract with the Saints. “It doesn’t sound good. Everyone knocks it until they try it.”

Perhaps most importantly, the homemade dish fits into his shoestring budget. That kind of thing matters to players on the margins of rosters – the ones who seem to be forgotten by those who describe the league’s labor strife as a standoff between millionaires and billionaires.

There are a lot of players like Lorenzen who are nowhere near being millionaires. They get invited to training camps and sign “futures” contracts for the league minimum, which are honored only if they make the regular-season active roster. Otherwise, they snap up whatever offer they get for a practice squad gig paying about $5,000 a week.

Lorenzen has been an off-and-on practice squad player since 2009.

The 25-year-old’s NFL earnings last season, when he spent about a half-dozen weeks on the Saints’ practice squad, added up to about $30,000.

“There are more (NFL players) that are in my position that really aren’t millionaires,” Lorenzen said. “They don’t have tons of money and have to be smart and budget just like everyone else and know that this is a job and a way to make money, but not a guarantee, just an opportunity.”

Lorenzen lives in a city renowned for fine dining, but he does his own grocery shopping and cooking.

“We’ve turned into quite the cooks this offseason,” Lorenzen said of himself and back-up quarterback Chase Daniel. “We use the George Foreman (grill) on a regular basis.”

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