Remember the New Orleans Saints' left tackle competition that supposedly sticky wicket in the offensive line that once caused Sean Payton to lose sleep at night?

Well what was supposed to be one of the most scrutinized battles in Saints training camp a chained-linked octagon between Charles Brown Jason Smith and Terron Armstead has become a non-issue. Nary a word is mentioned about it these days largely because Brown has taken the job by the throat and claimed it for his own.

The competition was over before it began.

"I thought once we got into pads and got into the second and third week of training camp you'd begin to see this position competition a little bit clearer" Payton said. "I think that's been the case with us right now.

"I would say he's (Brown) certainly ahead of the other guys."

Brown's solid performance has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp. Not because team officials didn't believe in him. After all the club selected Brown in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft and allowed his predecessor Jermon Bushrod to leave in free agency.

Still Brown remains a largely unproven commodity. He's started just eight games in his three-year career and now he's charged with protecting Drew Brees' blind side at left tackle a spot where he's started just once.

Brown had to take notice when the Saints selected Armstead in the third round of the NFL draft in April and signed former top-five pick Jason Smith in free agency. Instead of shrinking from the challenge he's embraced it.

"The pressure is what it is" Brown said. "I can't gauge it. I'm just trying to be the best left tackle we've got on this team and then do a good job during the season."

Brown played well in limited duty against the Chiefs in the exhibition opener. Kansas City features two of the best young pass rushers in the league -- Tamba Hali and Justin Houston -- and both were silent against the Saints. The performance was a continuation of Brown's strong play throughout training camp.

"That's one of those positions where no news is usually good news" Payton said. "He's been real consistent.

"I think he's playing well."