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papz 09-02-2013 09:13 AM

Vargas: No wrong choice for Saints’ fifth receiver
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Whoever ended up winning the New Orleans Saints’ last wide receiver spot was going to deserve it. Whoever fell short wasn’t going to deserve to get cut — it’s just somebody had to lose what turned out to be the most fascinating position battle in town this preseason.

It was easy to root for all three candidates. Incumbent Courtney Roby should go down in history as one of the Saints’ most beloved special teams mainstays. Challenger Preston Parker sought a second shot in the NFL with a divisional rival of the team that waived him, an organization he no doubt wanted to prove wrong. Andy Tanner, New Orleans’ newly minted No. 5 wideout, sought his first shot.

Whether before or during the preseason, all of them showed the Saints they could contribute if deemed to be among “the right 53” coach Sean Payton so often alluded to. Whoever the coaches chose wasn’t going to be a main weapon as much as a supplement to the arsenal — the Saints were set at wide receiver with Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon.

And then there’s Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles at running back, as well as Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson at tight end.

Therefore, the race at fifth wide receiver came down to mere preference.

And coach Payton and his staff simply preferred Tanner, with his clean route-running and soft hands, over Roby — a prolific special-teams tackler who had been able to return kicks if the occasion called for it — and Parker, who kind of combined what Tanner and Roby offered.

Few Saints fans will forget Roby’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in 2009, which helped New Orleans start the year 9-0 before ultimately winning Super Bowl XLIV.

He averaged 25.6 yards on 94 kickoff returns, one of the best kickoff return averages in team history. He consistently led the special teams in tackles despite often fighting off two blockers and was named the unit’s captain in 2011 and 2012.

But he blended in with the crowd in the preseason, and in no way was he ever a true receiver with the Saints. He caught just two passes for 15 yards in more than four seasons with New Orleans.

A true receiver is obviously what the Saints wanted out of anyone they would carry on the roster under Stills and Toon, so Roby became the third player since 2010 to be cut from the Saints a season after serving as special teams captain.

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homerj07 09-02-2013 09:38 AM

Re: Vargas: No wrong choice for Saints’ fifth receiver
All of them had pluses & minuses. Tanner just won out. I know a lot of us were rotting for him.


halloween 65 09-02-2013 09:47 AM

Re: Vargas: No wrong choice for Saints’ fifth receiver
I like Tanner and glad to see him make the team, but Roby is still a special teams monster. Tough call on this one.

thebdj 09-02-2013 02:18 PM

Re: Vargas: No wrong choice for Saints’ fifth receiver
Not really a tough call for me. Whilst Special Teams is often the forgotten part of football, being a decent Special Teams player alone is not good enough to maintain a position on the 53 unless you are someone like Devin Hester. And before anyone tells me he also lines up as WR and has played CB, he sucks at both of those.

Thanks for everything Courtney. Good lad and great contributor but I wasn't seeing enough to maintain a position on the 53 and we weren't just rooting for Tanner because of his 'wonderful story', the guy was mustard and earned his place.

Rugby Saint II 09-02-2013 02:47 PM

Re: Vargas: No wrong choice for Saints’ fifth receiver
Roby had run his course with the Saints. I wish him well. Who Dat!

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