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 isn't popular.
"It's better for you and it just tastes good," said Lorenzen, who is 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 NFL rosters.
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.
"I know there's been a few established guys who've made the comment, 'Hey, we don't mind the lockout. We get all this free time.' Well, that's because you're an established player who's gotten some big contracts," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.
"But guys like Tyler Lorenzen are fighting their butt off just to make the team ... So it's not like they've got a big nest egg."
Lorenzen has been an off-and-on practice squad player since 2009 and his 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."