Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. Nick Toon was well on his way to having a standout training camp in 2012 before injuring his foot badly enough to be placed on the Saints' injured reserve.

But instead of wallowing, instead of going into a mental bunker, he took the time to observe and watch and learn.

And a year later, he's having as good a training camp as anyone, building on the lessons from his redshirt season.

'It was really just trying to take advantage of my opportunity to learn,' Toon said. 'I sat back and observed, watched the older guys, sitting in meeting rooms, trying to learn as much of the playbook as I could, watching film, and just trying to watch and observe. I kind of got the opportunity to step back and learn.

'Obviously, I wish I would have been out there playing but last year was still a great learning experience.'

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound receiver so far has taken full advantage of a wide open battle for one of the roster spots at the position.

With Marques Colston on the physically unable to perform list, Lance Moore is the only receiver with more than one season of catching passes from quarterback Drew Brees full time.

That's opening up spots with the first-team offense for players like Andy Tanner, Kenny Stills, Joseph Morgan and Toon.

Thus far, Toon has very few drops and has shown a knack for being a big target in the middle of the fray.

It doesn't hurt that he's receiving passes from Brees, one of the NFL's most accurate quarterbacks in its history.

'Drew is a great player and one of the best in the game if not the best in the game,' Toon said. 'It's awesome being out there with the ones and getting the opportunity to go out there and showcase what I can do.'

But it gets back to his rookie season, receivers coach Henry Ellard said.

'He has a better idea of what he's doing,' Ellard said. 'That's the benefit of having him here last year on campus even though he didn't practice at all, to see how things are done, watching Lance and watching Devery at the time and watching Colston, (seeing) how things are done on a week in, week out basis and just continue to build on that.'

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