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Saints’ Willie Snead excited for padded practice, talks up Curtis Johnson’s impact

Willie Snead is going to play a big role for the Saints in 2017, and he’s determined to do his part.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Training Camp Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Entering his third season, Willie Snead is fully aware of what he and the Saints receivers are out to accomplish. In each of his first two seasons, Snead has flirted with the 1,000-yard mark, finishing just 16 yards shy in 2015 and 105 yards short in 2016. He missed one game in each season, and very well could have hit the feat had he played. However, he’s put that behind him and is only moving forward.

Over time, the Saints have been able to get the most out of their receiving corps with Drew Brees at the helm, but have never had three 1,000-yard receivers in the Sean Payton era of any combination. However, they’ve been close, and 2016 was the first year the Saints saw the wide receivers be the top three receiving leaders on the team.

Saints Receiving Trios Under Payton

Year Top Trio Catches Yards TDs Individual Stats (Rec-Yards-TDs)
Year Top Trio Catches Yards TDs Individual Stats (Rec-Yards-TDs)
2006 Colston-Henderson-Bush 190 2,525 15 Colston (70-1038-8), Henderson (32-745-5), Bush (88-742-2)
2007 Colston-Patten-Bush 225 2,411 16 Colston (98-1202-11), Patten (54-792-3), Bush (73-417-2)
2008 Moore-Henderson-Colston 158 2,481 18 Moore (79-928-10), Henderson (32-793-3), Colston (47-760-5)
2009 Colston-Henderson-Meachem 166 2,600 20 Colston (70-1074-9), Henderson (51-804-2), Meachem (45-722-9)
2010 Colston-Moore-Meachem 194 2,444 20 Colston (84-1023-7), Moore (66-783-8), Meachem (44-638-5)
2011 Graham-Colston-Sproles 265 3,163 26 Graham (99-1310-11), Colston (80-1143-8), Sproles (86-710-7)
2012 Colston-Moore-Graham 233 3,177 25 Colston (83-1154-10), Moore (65-1041-6), Graham (85-982-9)
2013 Graham-Colston-Stills 193 2,799 26 Graham (86-1215-16), Colston (75-943-5), Stills (32-641-5)
2014 Stills-Colston-Graham 207 2,722 18 Stills (63-931-3), Colston (59-902-5), Graham (85-889-10)
2015 Cooks-Snead-Watson 227 2,947 18 Cooks (84-1138-9), Snead (69-984-3), Watson (74-825-6)
2016 Cooks-Thomas-Snead 242 3,205 21 Cooks (78-1173-8), Thomas (92-1137-9), Snead (72-895-4)
Saints Receiving Trio Leaders by Season John Hendrix

“We have to match the intensity. The bar was set last year, and I’m trying to push for my first 1,000-yard season,” Snead said.

As he pointed out, Michael Thomas is going for a repeat performance, and free agent pickup Ted Ginn Jr. is eyeing the first of his career. “I know Ted (Ginn) is more than capable of getting that 1,000 yards,” Snead added.

Brees complimented the receivers on Thursday by saying the Saints have a very young, hungry, and competitive wide receiver group. Their work ethic focuses on simply improving and getting better.

“It’s coming in and working hard every day to develop your game. When we get to Sunday, everything becomes a lot slower and a lot easier to us to get better from the games last year.”

Snead didn’t hold back that he’s looking forward to putting on the pads in Saturday’s training camp session open to fans.

“I love the contact. It’s just I can hit somebody now. Growing up, I was a defensive player, so I love the contact.”

Curtis Johnson is a noticeable difference for the Saints this season, and that’s been evident through minicamp and training camp. Johnson, who was with the team from 2006-2011 before accepting a head coaching job at Tulane for 2012, is bringing an intensity to receiver drills that hasn’t been seen over the the past couple of seasons. From observations through the first two days, he’s made it a point to make his receivers repeat drills to perfect them, and no one has been excluded.

“He’s a veteran coach. He’s going to get the most out of everybody. He’s going to coach you hard. You just have to take the coaching,” Snead said.

“I haven’t had a coach like Curtis (Johnson) before, so it’s an adjustment for me and I know it’s adjustment for the other guys as well. He is definitely a coach that’s going to change how you play, and if you listen to what he has to say then he’s going to make you into a better receiver.”