Joe Morgan is out for the year.
This much we know. And when it comes to the Saints offense that may be a bigger loss than most people realize.
After tearing his meniscus and part of his ACL in Saturday's scrimmage, the second-year speedster out of Walsh University leaves the team with a gaping hole at outside receiver that desperately needs to be filled.
Before Morgan New Orleans was blessed with two very explosive receivers in Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson -- two guys who are no longer with the organization. Neither was a game-changing wide out but both stretched the field well and brought an element to the offense that kept defenses honest. Their downfield ability allowed Marques Colston,Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore to work the short and intermediate routes that help make the Saints so successful.
That element is now gone from the offense and it's way more worrisome than some would like to admit. It was Henderson and Meachem's speed that allowed this type of execution to work and without it, the Saints turned to Joe Morgan to be that next type of receiver.
Fast-forward to Monday afternoon. Morgan's injury forced New Orleans to sign former Arizona Cardinal Steve Breaston -- a guy who went from eating Cheetos on his couch to catching passes from Drew Brees in a span of three hours. Not bad for someone pushing thirty years old who was recently cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. Breaston will be a decent slot receiver for Brees and company but doesn't bring the speed that was lost when Morgan went down. His veteran presence will be nice to add but he doesn't showcase a dynamic athleticism the way Morgan did before he was ruled out for the 2013 season.
So what does that mean for the Saints offense moving forward? New Orleans has plenty of young talent in the receiving corps but nobody aside from Colston has been able to make an impact in their rookie season under Sean Payton.
But hold on a minute. Do you hear that loud knocking sound? That's opportunity banging its proverbial head on the door of Saints rookie Kenny Stills.
Stills, a fifth round draft pick out of Oklahoma, has been battling for a spot in the rotation all training camp long. And while he's struggled at times (what rookie hasn't), Drew Brees seems to be more and more confident with what Stills can do. He has the quickness of a Henderson or Meachem and can be a threat vertically from the outside. He's got soft hands and is good at making adjustments when the ball is thrown. But he's young and inexperienced, and he hasn't yet caught a pass in an NFL game. It's a give and take that will be interesting to see play out as the season unfolds.
So it has now come to this - the Saints relying on a group of little-used wide outs with virtually no game experience to make up for the loss of a guy who himself has only played two seasons. It's a big burden to bear. Joining Breaston in the competition for the third receiver spot are Nick Toon, Andy Tanner and even Saalim Hakim. But until proven otherwise, Kenny Stills should win the job.
He has the opportunity to be a next level guy on this Saints offense but only time will tell. If he's given the chance to showcase his talent early New Orleans could watch as its next big name receiver develops before its own eyes, but Stills has to continue to learn the offense and get over the mistakes that plague rookies early on. With Drew Brees throwing the ball to him I look for Stills to have a solid freshman campaign and become the next playmaker in this offense.
And let's be honest. What receiver doesn't Brees make look better?
More from Canal Street Chronicles:
- Saints Training Camp Recap: Is Anyone Really Blaming Kenny Vaccaro For Joe Morgan's Knee Injury?
- Performance-Enhancing Drugs in the NFL: We Simply Don't Care
- The Rise of New Orleans Saints Linebacker Junior Galette
- Saints Lose Joe Morgan and Kenyon Coleman for the 2013 NFL Season
- Saints vs. Chiefs 2013: Scouting the Enemy