Arrington impressed Saints
Adrian Arrington chose the right time to have the best game of his young career.
On the bubble for a roster spot, he caught four passes for a team-high 87 yards in the New Orleans Saints? opening 27-24 exhibition loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday. They were his first receptions since the first preseason game of his rookie year in 2008.
''It's definitely a good step,'' Arrington said. ''There's more pressure on me just because I've been in the system a couple of years and know what's going on. I've got to go out and make plays, that's for sure.''
The 6-foot-3, 192-pound Arrington made two big receptions on a second-half touchdown drive against the Patriots.
First, he caught a pass over the middle, spun away from a tackle and gained 51 yards before being pushed out of bounds. Then he had an 11-yard grab on the sideline to the Patriots? 2.
Although he bruised his left shoulder on the latter catch, forcing him to miss both of the Saints' practices Saturday, he and coach Sean Payton said he would return no later than Monday.
''I was pleased with how he played,'' Payton said. ''He came in and brought a little spark with that second group.''
Arrington was disappointed he did not add a game-winning touchdown to cap his breakthrough night. With New Orleans trailing 24-21 late in the fourth quarter, he got both hands on a pass third-string quarterback Chase Daniel threw behind him in the end zone, but cornerback Terrence Wheatley knocked it away.
The Saints settled for a field goal.
''Any time the ball touches my hands, I feel like I should catch it no matter what,'' Arrington said. ''It definitely would have been hard, but it?s one I?ve made a thousand times in practice.''
Arrington spent 2008, his rookie year, on injured reserve after suffering a turf toe injury in the preseason opener. He was relegated to the Saints? practice squad in 2009.
His last significant action came in his final college game, when he set career bests with nine catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns as Michigan upset Florida 41-35 in the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
He tried to make up for lost time against New England.
''He ran good routes and got open, it?s that simple,'' backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey said. ''He really did a good job out there. Every time my read brought me to him, he was there and he was ready.''
Consistency has been Arrington?s issue in the past. He slipped to the bottom of the draft in 2008 because of questions about his character, not his ability.
He was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence in 2006 - the charges were dropped - and was suspended for spring practice in 2007.
Still, the Saints traded their sixth-round selection in 2009 to take him with a seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft.
With Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore entrenched as the top four wideouts, versatility is crucial for those competing for the final spot or two. The Saints kept five last year and figure to keep either five or six this season.
Although Arrington is no special teams factor like kick returner/wide receivers Courtney Roby and Rod Harper - his primary competition for the final spot or two - he says he adds value in a different way.
''I know every wide receiver position that we have,'' he said. ''That gives me a big advantage. The coaches know if anybody goes down, I can come in there and fill that slot.''
Notes: The Saints moved starter Scott Shanle to strongside linebacker from the weak side on Saturday morning. Jonathan Casillas, a second-year undrafted free agent, worked with the first unit on the weak side. The Saints waived RB Lynell Hamilton, who tore his ACL in practice Wednesday, and replaced him with former LSU LB Harry Coleman. Coleman participated in their minicamps this spring but was waived just before the start of training camp. Rookie TE Jimmy Graham (sprained ankle) was in a walking boot for both practices, joining P Thomas Morstead (separated left shoulder) on the injury list from the Patriots game. Meachem, who is running straight-ahead routes but remains on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), said team doctors would re-evaluate his injured toe on Tuesday or Wednesday. He had surgery in May to repair torn cartilage in the second toe of his left foot, an injury he said he sustained in week 4 against the New York Jets last year.