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Receivers looking for some separation

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; There are 10 candidates vying for roster spots behind Colston Monday, July 30, 2007 By Jimmy Smith JACKSON, MISS. -- About 365 days ago, Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson was answering questions about the logjam at that position behind ...

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Old 07-30-2007, 05:42 AM   #1
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Cool Receivers looking for some separation

There are 10 candidates vying for roster spots behind Colston

Monday, July 30, 2007
By Jimmy Smith

JACKSON, MISS. -- About 365 days ago, Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson was answering questions about the logjam at that position behind incumbent No. 1 Joe Horn.

On Sunday, Johnson was answering questions about the logjam at that position behind incumbent No. 1 Marques Colston.

Colston separated himself from the wannabes a year ago and his rapid development into Drew Brees' favorite and most consistent target made Horn yesterday's news.

With Colston's position as the go-to guy firmly established, the unanswered question now is what the pecking order will be for receivers two through five or six.

"I like the guys we've got," Johnson said. "We've got some pretty good guys."

All told, there are 10 candidates for the receiver spots behind Colston, and judging by the way things are shaping up during the offensive team walk-through periods at the beginning of each of the practices so far, the coaching staff has a pretty good idea of how the final depth chart will take shape.

The past couple of days, running with the first unit in those drills have been Colston, Devery Henderson, Terrance Copper, David Patten and rookie Robert Meachem.

Receiver Lance Moore, barring injury, seems to have a roster spot secured because he's the likely No. 1 kick returner, and possibly the No. 1 punt returner. He also plays on cover teams.

That's six roster spots.

Last year, the Saints had six wide receivers on the active roster and Moore was, at various times, on the active list or on the practice squad, as was Dante Ridgeway.

That leaves Jamal Jones, who played in 12 games last year, along with free agents Rhema McKnight, Aaron Hosack, Tramain Hall and Ridgeway currently in the second tier hoping for a miracle.

"The logjam breaks itself out," Johnson said. "The guys who make the most plays and the guys who do what's right and what we ask them to do, those are the guys who'll play. It doesn't matter. If Marques doesn't do what we ask him to do, he's not going to play. That's kind of what Coach Payton wants. And that's how we do it."

Payton affirmed as much.

"You're looking for playmakers," Payton said, "guys who can execute, catch the football and block, some of the very fundamental things at receiver that the quarterback expects, that consistency. Where you're supposed to be, detailing your assignments."

The presence of Meachem, the Saints' No. 1 draft choice, muddled the picture somewhat for fringe players seeking a roster spot.

Even though Jones is a solid special teams player who can also return kicks, and Ridgeway has shown he's a precise route runner with nice hands, it would be unlikely the Saints would cut Meachem loose and keep either Jones or Ridgeway. The investment in Meachem is too great.

Jones missed practice Sunday with a sore left knee and said afterward he'd undergo an MRI later in the day to determine if there was any structural damage. "It's part of football," he said. "You get hurt sometime. There's nothing I can do about it."

Henderson has made great strides in eliminating the inconsistencies he exhibited a year ago, testament to an offseason when the coaching staff asked him to work on certain fundamentals to improve his performance.

"Just things like coming out of my routes, catching the ball with my hands, just focusing on the ball," said Henderson, whose concentration appears to be sharper. "That's helped me. At the same time, I have to keep working on it. The more you work on it, the better you'll get. Working on it, it will become a habit."

Henderson has drawn praise from Payton ("He's becoming more consistent") and Johnson, who said it is hard to overlook the fact the Henderson led the NFL last season in yards per catch (23.3).

"We asked the guy to address some issues," Johnson said of Henderson, "and we're pleased with what Devery has done. He led the NFL in yards per catch. You can't ask for more than that. But the inconsistencies, there's no excuse for that. We just wanted him to be a little more consistent, and he's adjusted to that. He's out working after practice every day."

Johnson's rapid-fire assessment of the rest of the first group: "I like what David Patten is doing. Older guy. Wise. Copper has really picked it up and is playing well. Lance Moore has been impressive. Jones, it's frustrating that he's hurt because he has been playing well, too. Meachem has been a little injured, his knee isn't where it should be. But he's coming around."

And the rest: "McKnight is from a good program, Notre Dame. He knows how to practice and catch the ball well. Hosack's a big, tall (6 feet 5), stridey kid. Can really run. Hasn't been around that much. Tramain Hall is a tremendous returner who can do things as a receiver, too. I really like Ridgeway. He's explosive, really impressive and one of the guys who has come a long way so far."

As always, though, the value of an extra player, regardless of position, on special teams could be the difference between making the final roster and visiting the turk.

"It's extremely important," Payton said. "You have to be able, as a coach when you look at your game-day roster, not your 53, you have to be able to say how many snaps is this player getting if he's not getting in the game at receiver."

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Old 07-30-2007, 03:40 PM   #2
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Re: Receivers looking for some separation

Atleast they have great depth at the WRs spot.
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:15 AM   #3
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Re: Receivers looking for some separation

Whoever makes the final roster is going to be extremely much better because of the minicamp competition.
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