We’ve hit the home stretch of the offseason with precious little time remaining for players and coaches to get their non-football lives in order. The first practice for the 2013 season is Friday, July 26.
WWLTV.com will take a look at 10 questions for New Orleans entering training camp and the season. They’re in no particular order, just numbered.
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No. 7: Who will step up at WR behind Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Joseph Morgan?
When training camp opens up next week, nine players will be vying for the spots on the roster at wide receiver behind veterans Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Joseph Morgan.
The question is which ones will find a way onto the 53-man roster in a spot that opened up after the Saints decided not to retain Devery Henderson.
In alphabetical order by last name, they are: Jarred Fayson, Chris Givens, Saalim Hakim, Brent Leonard, Preston Parker, Courtney Roby, Kenny Stills, Andy Tanner and Nick Toon.
New Orleans kept five receivers on the roster a year ago, but one of those went to special teams captain Roby. That leaves one position open for the taking.
Judging from minicamp and organized team activities, it could come down to Stills, Toon and Hakim. How they all do in training could force the Saints to keep six receivers on the roster instead of the usual five. It happened in 2011.
With this group, though, there’s painfully little experience to fall back on.
And that opens the doors for many.
Toon appeared to have the most consistent spring while Hakim looked like the breakout star of the offseason. Stills showed potential.
Toon would seem to have the upper hand. He was having a good preseason in 2012 before breaking his foot, sending him to the injured reserve list for the season. He’s 6-foot-4, 218 pounds and athletic. He showed the ability to go up high and catch a pass in traffic.
Hakim, meanwhile, could provide the Saints with another “burner” on the outside and a legitimate threat on kickoff returns. He’s short at 5-11 and small at 188 pounds but he’s fast and can catch the ball. He impressed reporters and coaches during OTAs and minicamp and could prove to be that needle in a haystack player.
At 6-0, 190 pounds, Stills isn’t much bigger or taller than Hakim but the Saints thought enough of the ability he showed at Oklahoma to take a gamble on him in the draft. He finished his Sooners career ranking fourth in receptions (204), third in yards (2,594) and fifth in touchdowns (24).
Tanner has been around the Saints for several years, but has never been able to transition off the practice squad. Fayson didn’t jump out during OTAs and Leonard and Givens are long-shots.
Parker is a head-scratcher. He had a good 2011 with the Bucs, but fell out of favor in 2012, playing in only two games for a new regime. He caught 40 passes for 554 yards and three touchdowns during his sophomore campaign and averaged 22 yards on 20 kickoff returns.
In a much-too-soon guesstimation before we see what happens when players put pads on, our best guess is that the extra spot goes to Toon with Stills and Hakim fighting to make the Saints open up an extra place on the roster. It’s possible both end up on the practice squad.
It’s also possible that the Saints find a way to slip another receiver into the roster a la 2009 when Colston, Moore, Henderson and Robert Meachem were integral parts of the offense.