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Saints WR Chris Olave striving to improve after promising rookie season: 'I want to be the best'

Reports of Michael Thomas' return have been positive this offseason after the wideout missed most of the past three seasons. But even if the former All-Pro receiver can't return to his record-setting ways, the New Orleans Saints still boast a field-tilting force in Chris Olave.

"I want to be the best," Olave said on Tuesday, via the team's official website. "That's always been my mindset, I just want to be the best. I try to do that every day, stay consistent with my work and do everything I can to be at my best. That's my goal."

Olave shined as a rookie, hauling in 72 of 119 targets for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. The Ohio State product proved the route-running acumen to spin corners in circles, finding open grass with ease. That's the type of trait that portends a long, productive career.

But the Saints wideout continues to strive for a Year 2 leap.

"Just been working on some of my weaknesses, trying to be stronger at the catch, just being stronger after contact," Olave said. "And trying to work on my (yards after catch). I'm just trying to come down with every target thrown my way. I feel like last year, I kind of struggled with that and I just want to keep getting better every year."

Olave's rookie campaign showed promise. With Derek Carr entering the picture in place of Andy Dalton, he could blossom into a top-shelf playmaker. Olave generated a league-high 14.2 air yards per catch, according to Next Gen Stats (min. 100 targets). With Carr's deep-ball acumen, Olave should receive plenty of shots to hit home runs in 2023.

Of course, getting a healthy Thomas back would open things up even more for Olave and speedster Rashid Shaheed, but the second-year receiver knows that regardless of the former Offensive Player of the Year's status, he needs to be ready to produce.

"That's something I can't really control," Olave said of the possible return of Thomas. "I know Mike is doing his best to be out there, he wants to be out there. But I'm trying to be the best at what I do, so I'm looking at that right now, whether Mike is out there or not. When Mike is out there he's one of the best, too, so I feel like that can add a lot to the team."

On paper, the Saints offense has taken a step forward. Still, given how offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael called games last season -- struggling to get his playmakers the ball in space -- the jury remains out on whether it will coalesce into an explosive force.

One thing that isn't up for debate, however: Chris Olave is a baller.

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