METAIRIE, La. — Little did Kenny Stills realize it, but one summer more than four years ago, he caught passes from his future quarterback during a summer workout in San Diego.
The Saints took Stills in the fifth round, bringing the youngster’s story full circle.
Stills said Saturday he was one of several high school players in San Diego who were invited to catch passes from Drew Brees when the quarterback was still with the Chargers.
And now he’s set to catch passes from him once again.
“I can remember hearing the ball whistle coming out of his hands to my hands and just kind of smacking me in the hands,” Stills said. “I expect and have seen such great things from Drew Brees. I’m excited to be around him and learn as much as I can and get open for him.”
Quietly, the Saints’ receiving corps is getting a makeover.
New Orleans was in the market to begin rebuilding its receiver group. Marques Colston has been in the NFL since 2006 and continues to be dominant at the position. Lance Moore, meanwhile, remains a threat out wide.
Though Joe Morgan had a breakout season in 2012, he still hasn’t proven to be an every down receiver. Toon, meanwhile, spent last season on the injured reserve after suffering a foot injury in training camp and is an unknown at this point.
And long-time deep threat Devery Henderson is a free agent this offseason and may have played his final game with New Orleans.
“If things work out, I’ll be out there playing,” Stills said. “I want to do everything I can to help make an impact on the field and if not, I’m going to have to learn and when my time comes I have to be ready.”
Stills is the first receiver taken by the Saints with Sean Payton in the draft room since they took Adrian Arrington in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. Payton already was serving his suspension last year when the Saints took Nick Toon in the fourth round.
The Saints are getting a speedy receiver who ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and registered a 33 1/2-inch vertical.
But it’s what he did on the field that likely caught the collective eyes of the Saints front office.
Stills (6-foot, 190 pounds) started 38 games with the Sooners, finishing with 204 catches and 2,594 yards and 24 touchdowns. He finished his career in Norman, Okla., fourth on the Sooners’ all-time receiving yards list and fourth on career receiving touchdowns list.
He also had nine punt returns, averaging six yards and rushed the ball three times for 23 yards in his career.
Stills is the son of former Packers and Vikings safety Ken Stills, something the Saints obviously like. He joins Cameron Jordan, Mark Ingram and Toon as having fathers who have played in the NFL.
“I think you have an understanding we have for the business and we know how to treat it,” Stills said. “We have to come in and work our tails off every single day. Nothing less than that is expected from us.”