Saints receiver Arrington knows the time is now

Saints receiver Adrian Arrington has been on the bubble ever

since New Orleans took him in the seventh round of the 2008

draft.

But with a spot opening in the receiving rotation after Robert

Meachem signed with San Diego in free agency, Arrington knows now

is the time for him to earn consistent playing time.

Four days into training camp, Arrington is showing he just might

be the player to take Meachem’s spot, making diving catches and

coming up with receptions in tight coverage each day.

”I’ve obviously been in this system for so many years now,”

Arrington said. ”Everything is kind of clicking. Hopefully I can

continue to keep it going. It’s still early right now.”

And Arrington knows there’s still time for something to go awry.

In each of his first two seasons, great training camps were cut

short because of injuries.

Yet, even when he wasn’t injured the past two seasons, a deep

receiving corps kept him sidelined. He has played in only five

regular-season games, catching only nine passes for 110 yards. In

two postseason games, he has two catches for 21 yards.

He has come into training camp lately fighting not just for

playing time, but for a roster spot. So he’s not about to relax

because of a few good days.

”I feel the same pressure every year,” Arrington said. ”I’m

always in the same situation every single year. It’s always the

same to me.”

He’s not alone, however, in fighting for the No. 4 spot in the

rotation. The Saints drafted Nick Toon out of Wisconsin with their

fourth-round pick this spring. And Joe Morgan, who impressed the

coaching staff in last year’s preseason, also returns in hopes of

securing a roster spot.

Arrington’s experience in the system is giving him an advantage

thus far.

Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said the Arrington has

done everything the team has asked of him, and now, while watching

video of practices, it’s evident that Arrington is familiar with

the system.

”I’ve never known for the last couple of years for him to slow

down because he learns as he goes,” Carmichael said. ”He’s a

sharp guy. He can play a couple of different positions.”

Familiarity with the system also is bolstering Arrington’s

confidence.

”After so many years of doing this, everything is second

(nature),” Arrington said. ”I know it like the back of my hand.

As long as I can go out here and stay healthy, I should be able to

continue doing the things I’ve been doing so far.”

What he has been doing is making big catches in tight spots.

Like when he managed to catch a pass zipped by quarterback Drew

Brees to a spot inches from safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback

Johnny Patrick. The play gained more than 10 yards.

Not that the catch surprised the always-confident Arrington.

”As long as I can come out here and stay healthy, I know the

things I can do,” he said.

NOTES: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (hand) and tight end David

Thomas (strained lower back) both sat out practice Sunday. Acting

head coach Joe Vitt said Hicks is expected to start conditioning on

Tuesday. Vitt gave no timetable on Thomas’ return. . Cornerback

Patrick Robinson ”tweaked” his shoulder, Vitt said, and was being

evaluated by doctors. . The team said 4,144 fans watched practice

Sunday.