Saints WR Morgan off to great camp start
OXNARD, Calif. (AP)
New Orleans Saints receiver Joseph Morgan has become a training-camp darling after two impressive touchdowns in his first two preseason games.
In Morgan's eyes, he's only as good as his last practice.
Morgan eluded numerous defenders on a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown during the Saints' preseason win over the 49ers on Aug. 12. He followed that up with a 56-yard TD reception in last Saturday's loss to the Texans, unleashing the same speed that attracted the attention of the Saints.
''If people saw how I did in camp (Tuesday), I did terrible,'' Morgan said. ''I did bad. It's one of those things that I have to get better every day. I want to say it's been successful so far, but I've got to do better.''
Morgan's journey to the Saints is similar to the route followed by many undrafted rookie free agents.
Morgan began his college career at Illinois, but transferred after off-the-field issues and ended up at Walsh University, an NAIA school, for his junior and senior seasons. Morgan said one of his coaches at Walsh had connections with the St. Louis Rams, and word spread about the speedster.
''I set my expectations high,'' Morgan said. ''If I didn't set my expectations high, I wouldn't make the team. So all I'm trying to do is get better every day because there's nothing written in stone. You've just got to come out and keep working hard every day.''
Morgan is fighting for one or possibly two open roster spots at receiver, considering veterans like Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson have been entrenched for several seasons in the Saints' offense.
For Morgan to make the roster, he'll have to show he can help the Saints in a variety of ways.
''He's young, he's green, there's a lot he's working on, but he's still explosive and you can see that,'' New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. ''He runs well and those are things that showed up right away in our first week, and yet there are still a number of little things, a lot of things that he's working on to refine his game. But we've been pleased with his quick development and the explosiveness he brings in the return game and on the outside.''
Payton said it's fair to compare the way receiver Rod Harper made the team two years ago to Morgan's effort. Harper had two punt returns for touchdowns in the 2009 preseason and surprisingly made the 53-man roster after final cuts.
The Saints have a history of keeping players who make good impressions during training camp. Morgan is well on his way, but Payton warns there's always more that can be done.
''Their job is to improve each day,'' Payton said. ''Their job is to make an impression. Their job is to help in the kicking game and if they can answer those questions, the first way to make the team is to contribute on special teams. But if they can do that then they're pressing other players that can play that similar role.''
NOTES: RB Mark Ingram (left knee) and G Carl Nicks (left knee) were the most notable of the 16 players to miss Tuesday's practice. Nicks left midway through Monday's practice to have his knee examined. Payton said Nicks should only miss one week after an MRI came back negative. Nicks did briefly attend Tuesday's practice and walked around without a noticeable limp. Payton said Ingram simply had soreness in his knee and could miss Wednesday's practice, but it didn't appear serious. ... The other 13 players who missed practice were RB Chris Ivory (left foot, abdomen), DE Greg Romeus (right knee), LB Ezra Butler (left hamstring), DT Tom Johnson (left calf), CB Johnny Patrick (right knee), DE Jeff Charleston (left ankle), CB Fabian Washington (right hamstring), LB Will Herring (right calf), RB Chris Taylor (right ankle), DT Aubrayo Franklin (left knee), G Roger Allen (left knee), LB Clint Ingram (right hamstring) and WR Jarred Fayson (right knee). DE Junior Galette (left knee) left midway through Tuesday's practice.