METAIRIE, La. — Robert Meachem came to the Saints a surprise first-round pick in the 2007 draft.
He left New Orleans the same way, signing a surprising four-year, $25.9 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.
And on Sunday night, he’ll return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the first time as an opponent of the Saints (0-4).
He’s off to a slow start, catching only six passes in four games for 92 yards and no touchdowns for San Diego (3-1).
“I see him getting better and better and Philip (Rivers) getting more and more comfortable with Robert (and) Robert getting more comfortable with us,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “He’s obviously been a very productive player, so he doesn’t lack confidence and that’s the number one thing you worry about when you’re not having the production you want to be having, that the guy might start to waver.
“That certainly hasn’t happened.”
It might be because he has been in the situation before.
He didn’t play in one game as a rookie in New Orleans and, a year later, caught only 12 passes.
But he broke out of his slump in year three, New Orleans’ Super Bowl season. He played a large role in the Saints’ 13-3 regular season and three-game playoff run.
Meachem caught a career-high 45 passes for a career-high 722 yards and nine touchdowns.
In New Orleans, though, Meachem never publicly requested more passes be thrown his way. And his downfield blocking was an integral part to a successful run game.
Those are attributes that Rivers said stood out immediately once he reported to Chargers camp.
“One thing was pretty clear when he got here with Eddie Royal and the guys we’ve added is (that he’s) very unselfish,” Rivers said. “He’s a super team guy and he’s fit right in very well.”