As summer seems to get hotter and hotter and we get down to only baseball on TV, there’s only one thing to do to keep our interest – answer questions and give our thoughts about the Saints heading into training camp.
We’ll run out one question a day in a hope that we satiate your thirst until actual toe meets leather. The questions are in no particular order of importance…except for No. 1.
13. Who will emerge to take the place of Robert Meachem at receiver?
Three players will vie for Robert Meachem’s time and role now that the Saints former first-round pick has moved on to San Diego in free agency.
The question is who between Adrian Arrington, Joe Morgan and Nick Toon will get the call?
In reality, there are likely two spots for three players – Arrington was on the regular season roster a year ago, though he was inactive for 7/8 of the season.
To guess who will take over, though, needs some education in Meachem’s production the past few years. He had a career year in 2009 and followed it up in ’10 with a subpar performance. But his ’11 performance was back on track.
He finished the season with 40 catches for 620 yards and six touchdowns. He was the 18th-best receiver among those seeing at least 60 percent of their team’s offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus statistics. His strengths were in the passing game, where he finished 2011 with a plus-2.4 rating and a plus-1.1 pass block rating.
In many ways, Meachem’s “replacement” is Devery Henderson; both are speedy, deep threats. But Henderson statistically, according to PFF, hasn’t had a positive overall rated season in the past four seasons.
This will come down to which player gives the Saints more options.
Toon, as the team’s fourth-round pick, is likely to find his way onto the roster. He’s 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and impressed during Organized Team Activities and minicamp. He’s the son of former NFL standout Al Toon and understands the game and the demands of professional football.
In fact, Toon could become the perfect receiving complement to Marques Colston – a big-sized receiver who catches the ball well in traffic. Coaches were effusive in their praise of the rookie during minicamp; the question for him will be how does he do with pads on?
As for Arrington, he’s going into his fifth season in the NFL and has yet to work his way consistently onto the field. He plays very little special teams and seemingly finds himself injured during training camp at some point.
But he has shown flashes during preseason games of being a contributor. In both 2011 and 2010, he led the team in receiving yards, finishing ’11 with 114 yards and a touchdown on eight catches and ’10 with 245 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches. And coaches have lauded his ability to play every receiver position.
Morgan is the wild card. He showed that he could be brilliant this past preseason, finishing with 77 yards and a touchdown on two catches and a touchdown and 107 yards on six punt returns. The coaching staff stashed him on the injured reserve after injuring his knee, a nod that they believe he might be able to add something. Like Arrington, Morgan has speed to burn and plays with good hands.
In the end, we see Toon ultimately being the one to take advantage of Meachem’s absence. We just don’t see Arrington doing anything he hasn’t done in his first four years. Morgan could get stashed on the practice squad if he doesn’t make the team, though the coaches sounded awfully high on him last preseason and during this offseason.