Meachem Back In Black But Kenny Is Stills The No. 3 Receiver
Heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, the New Orleans Saints and their fans are still trying to figure out how much production the team will get from the third wide receiver position and who will man this spot long term. WRs Marques Colston and Lance Moore provide an exceptional one-two punch, but every balanced offense needs that third wideout to generate momentum-changing plays. The third receiver is pivotal to every team’s offense. More often than not, he is matched up against man to man coverage and can create space to make catches at crucial points, especially when the other receivers are being blanketed by double coverage.
With the departure of longtime receiver Deverey Henderson, who signed with the Washington Redskins in the offseason, the Saints may have to turn to some unknowns to fill the open spot. Henderson was a valuable deep threat for the Saints, averaging 17.9 yards per reception in his seven years with the team.
The Saints were hopeful that second-year WR Joe Morgan would serve as a suitable replacement for Henderson, but he tore his meniscus during training camp and is out for the year. Morgan proved he had the talent to be a deep threat last season, catching 10 passes for 379 yards and hauled in three touchdowns.
Up next on the depth chart is rookie wideout Kenny Stills, who emerged from the preseason as the temporary solution. He has three receptions for 96 yards in his first two games, a large chunk of which came from a 67-yard hookup from QB Drew Brees against Atlanta. Behind him awaits their fourth round draft pick from 2012 Nick Toon, who missed the entire 2012 season with a foot injury. Toon showed potential in the preseason but was ultimately beaten out by Stills for the job and has yet to see the field in the regular season.
A wild card in all of this is former Saint Robert Meachem, who recently resigned with the team. Meachem spent five seasons with the Saints form 2007-2011 before he signed a four year, $25.5 million contract with the San Diego Chargers in March of 2012. Unfortunately for Meachem, he had an abysmal 2012 that resulted in his dismissal from the team in March. He did not factor much into the Chargers offense, catching 14 passes that included two touchdowns. In New Orleans, Meachem was an effective wide receiver, averaging more than 40 receptions per year and reaching ”pay dirt” 20 times from 2009-2011. His experience alone may be enough to award him the opportunity to be the team’s number three pass catcher. Meachem was targeted once against Tampa Bay by Brees and saw limited playing time.
The bottom line is, whoever is penciled in at the third receiver position each week will be expected to make big plays and find a way to become a lateral threat for Brees and the Saints aerial attack. For the moment, Stills has been doing an exceptional job but we must remember he is just a rookie so he will have to learn to adjust to the coverage he will be receiving as the league becomes more aware of his strengths and weaknesses.