Wednesday was a grim day for the Saints as both sides of the ball lost key contributors for the season.
Defensive end Kenyon Coleman is down with a torn pectoral muscle.
Receiver Joe Morgan is out with two injuries — a meniscus tear that he’ll have that repaired and an ACL repair.
“It’s not a full ACL, but this will be season-ending for him,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton. “Obviously that is significant and that surgery is being done today.
Coleman is going to have surgery most likely tomorrow, which Payton said will most likely be season-ending for him.
“So there are two players that are significant,” he said. “Obviously they are losses, and we have to find some guys to step up and take their spot.”
Morgan was having a strong camp with the Saints, building on last season’s success.
He was widely believed to be the front-runner for the Saints’ third spot in the receiving rotation behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore.
Morgan is receiving an outpouring of support from the Black and Gold’s fan base, including quarterback Drew Brees, who says he’s been texting Morgan often, encouraging him.
The competition amongst receivers is fierce for that spot on the roster.
Brees said the team has several capable options.
“Kenny Stills has been that personnel filling in that 11 personnel group. He is playing very well. He seems to be grasping the offense. You can tell at times his head is spinning a little bit because it’s a lot of information and a lot to think about at times. But for a guy like him, for a guy like (Nick) Toon, (Andy) Tanner and Preston Parker — they’ve all really stepped up and played well,” Brees said. “There are quite a few guys that are kind of getting back into the mix. Jarred Fayson has really shown up the past couple of days after being out the first couple days of camp. All these young receivers can play.”
Coleman’s loss is a blow to the Saints in terms of depth and institutional knowledge. He spent the past two seasons in Dallas with Rob Ryan, so he was supposed to be a de-facto on-the-field coach for this new version of the 3-4.
Ryan brought Coleman and Victor Butler over from the Cowboys to help install his new battle plan. Now both are gone for the season.
“It hurts. Anytime you bring in guys like Kenyon and Butler who have been in this system, it’s going to hurt. Rob was kind of thinking of leaning on those guys as far as teaching,” says safety Jim Leonhard. “On top of that, they’re great people so when you lose them it’s going to hurt. Unfortunately, that’s the way this game is and it’s the next man up mentality. You feel sorry for those guys and a lot of us have been through that before.”
Second-year player Akiem Hicks will likely step up in Coleman’s place.
“You are an anchor for the defense,” Hicks said. “I take that with a lot of responsibility and I plan on doing my job.”