Drops remain an issue for New Orleans Saints pass catchers this season
So often the adjective "sure-handed" precedes the corps of New Orleans Saints players hauling in pass after pass from Drew Brees.
Those like Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles have rightfully earned the complimentary description thanks to the numerous contributions they've made to the offense the last several years.
This season, like so many other aspects of the Saints in 2012, hasn't been the case. The Saints rank second in the NFL in most dropped passes with 33, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. Graham is tied for the league-lead with New England's Wes Welker with 10 dropped passes. Sproles is tied for third place with eight drops, while Colston has six drops and two lost fumbles.
More than a handful of drops have occurred in critical situations whether it was Moore's drop in the end zone at Atlanta or Sproles' drop on third down late in the fourth quarter in Green Bay that may have sealed a win. The problem hasn't been ignored by the coaching staff
"We've had more than our share this year," offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said Friday. "It's just something we have to go out every practice and continue to emphasize. Drew's going to be throwing with them (after practice). He's working as we speak. So these guys are out there working on it. For some reason, we've just had more than usual this year."
Interim coach Joe Vitt always emphasizes for players to move on to the next play, and he's sticking to his mantra.
"We have a dropped pass or we have any kind of miscue on either side of the ball, the most important play is going to be the next play," Vitt said. "You can't get caught up in the moment and you can't be kicking your foot in the dirt because of a dropped ball or missed tackle or a missed opportunity. One of the things this team has always been is resilient. So it's on to the next play.
"And then at the end of the game and we critique our body of work, then we'll work on those things we need to work on in order to be ready for next week. ... It's not a perfect game played by perfect people. And this football team and this coaching staff works as hard as it can for as long as we can. It's not OK and it's not acceptable (to drop passes), but we go on to the next snap."
Carmichael also said he never needs to tell Brees to continue throwing to his most explosive targets because Brees has trust and confidence in his receiving weapons.
Graham deemed his 2012 season as disappointing Friday and revealed he's been dealing with an ailing wrist since the preseason and said he's not sure if the wrist injury has played a part in his dropped passes.
"In the end I've got to catch the ball," Graham said. "It doesn't matter what I'm wearing. It doesn't matter the pain that I have. I still have to be out there and I still have to catch it. That's been on me."
Regardless of the uncharacteristic drops, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ronde Barber by no means will underestimate the Saints' passing game Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"The thing with these guys is that it's those guys (Colston and Graham), it's (Darren) Sproles, it's any number of guys. They have a guy on their team who I didn't know about until we played them last time that is averaging 40 yards per catch (Joseph Morgan). It's not necessarily that they have all of these elite players, it's that they have so many. For me, and I think for this team, it revolves around how their quarterback plays and he is very good at getting the ball to every single one of those guys.
"It makes it almost impossible to focus on one guy. You just have to know that on any particular play if you're not doing your job, that you're probably going to get targeted. That challenge in itself is the most important for me and it does get you excited because, like I said, you know you're going to get some opportunities no matter who you're covering."
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