Saints WR Morgan tries not to rest on big plays
Joseph Morgan won’t let his latest long touchdown go to his
There have been too many hard lessons during the Saints
receiver’s first two training camps for him to fall into that
”It’s just one of those things where it’s good to put something
on film like that, but there’s still a long way to go,” said
Morgan, who caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniel in
New Orleans’ preseason game against Jacksonville last Friday night.
”There’s still a lot more I’ve got to do to even make this
Morgan entered this preseason with higher expectations than one
might typically see with an undrafted free agent out of an NAIA
school. But he quickly got everyone’s attention after entering
Saints camp as a little known rookie out of Walsh University (in
Canton, Ohio) in 2011.
In his NFL preseason debut, Walsh eluded numerous defenders on a
78-yard punt return for a score against San Francisco. He followed
that up with a 56-yard TD reception in his second preseason game
against Houston, the same team the Saints (No. 9 in the AP Pro 32)
will meet in another exhibition contest this Saturday night.
But after scoring in his first two professional outings, Morgan
had an MRI to check on right knee pain and it revealed a torn
meniscus that required surgery.
Given his youth and the depth the Saints already had at receiver
last season, the club placed Morgan on injured reserve, ending his
chances of becoming a surprise addition to the regular season
”That’s one of those things where you go from being an
undrafted guy to almost making the team. I mean, everybody was
telling me my opportunity presented itself very well to make the
team, and then just to get some random injury out of the blue, I
was kind of upset,” Morgan said. ”Now I look at it as a blessing
in disguise because I got an opportunity to sit down and really
learn the playbook and learn from the older guys.”
This season, the Saints have asked Morgan to take snaps at all
receiver positions, rather than the one wideout spot (to the
outside of the slot receiver) that he played last year.
However, Morgan struggled at times with dropped passes and punts
during 2012 training camp, and he did little to make a major
impression in the Saints’ first two preseason games. He caught
three of six passes thrown his way for 35 yards and muffed a punt
return in the Saints’ preseason opener against Arizona.
He had one catch for 7 yards in New Orleans’ second preseason
game at New England, where he also totaled 8 return yards on three
Against the Jaguars, though, what Daniel refers to as Morgan’s
”world-class speed” was on display during his long touchdown
reception from the Saints’ backup QB. One safety hesitated on a
play-action fake and Morgan ran right by the other safety.
He ended the game having caught all three passes thrown his way
for a team-high 68 yards.
”It’s a growth process,” assistant head coach Joe Vitt said of
Morgan. ”The longer he plays in the game and the longer he
practices with us and becomes a part of our system, he is going to
learn the most important play is the next one.”
Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees said he was not surprised
to see Morgan struggling with consistency, given his inexperience
and the additional roles the Saints are asking him to try now.
”He is one of those guys that you put him on the field on game
day and he can kind of open your eyes and (make you) say `Wow, who
is this guy?”’ Brees said. ”He has this raw talent and now he
just needs to cultivate that. … He is still learning how to be a
professional and how to handle tough situations. … Now, he has a
few different things to think about, and at times, when you first
put a guy in that position, they are probably thinking a little bit
too much and it affects their play-making ability.”
Morgan said he also fell victim, initially, to thinking too much
about his place on the depth chart, particularly after Robert
Meachem’s departure in free agency.
”Of course I’ve thought about it because of the loss of Meachem
and everybody saying we were all vying for his fourth receiver
spot,” Morgan said. ”That’s one of those things you think about,
but now I look at it as I’m still an undrafted guy, basically still
like my rookie year, and that I’ve got a lot to prove. So I’ve got
to get my foot in the door first.”
Notes: LB Curtis Lofton, who sprained his ankle against
Jacksonville last Friday night, said he is all but certain he will
be able to play in New Orleans’ regular season opener against
Washington on Sept. 9. On Tuesday, he was walking around the locker
room without a limp or any kind of wrap to give away which ankle he
hurt (he and coaches have not said which). ”I’m feeling good. Just
doing what I’m told. Just taking care of it. It’s still preseason,
so it’s still early,” Lofton said. ”But once Week 1 rolls around,
I’ll be ready to go.” Lofton said he was hurt on the fifth play of
the game and played about 25 more snaps. … LB Barrett Ruud,
acquired from Seattle in exchange for a future draft choice on
Monday night, arrived at Saints headquarters Tuesday for his
physical, which he passed. He did not practice and was not
available to speak with reporters. … CB Marquis Johnson was
rested because of knee swelling. … RB Darren Sproles (knee) and
DE Turk McBride (ankle) both were in uniform during practice and
participated in non-contact individual drills.