New Orleans Saints wide receiver Bennie Fowler is gong into his seventh year in the league now. This year, he enters a Saints organization under conditions so specific and unique, they have drawn the attention of fans and media. Fowler got his shot when he joined with Saints newly acquired receiver Emmanuel Sanders who was meeting quarterback Drew Brees for a work out in Colorado. Apparently, that session went well.
“I just wanted an opportunity to get in front of Drew (Brees).” Fowler told New Orleans media on Wednesday. “[Brees] asked me if I was on a team and I was like, ‘No, I’m not on a team right now because of COVID. I haven’t had a chance to work out with anybody or travel to any teams.’ And he was like, ‘I’m going to call our guys right after this.’”
Getting a future Hall of Fame quarterback to vouch for you is a huge deal, particularly in an offseason like this one that has limited tryouts and facility visit drastically in protecting against the COVID Pandemic. But it’s nothing new for Fowler. Having played with both Manning brothers already in his career, he has done enough to make it on to rosters undrafted and contribute in whatever way a team asks of him. Outside of Brees vouching for him, he checks a lot of boxes necessary to carve out a role with the Saints, despite having only 95 career catches for 1,090 yards, and three touchdowns so far.
The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell asked Fowler for specifics on how he was being used so far in camp. “[The] way I learn is I learn all the positions and all the concepts. That’s the way I’ve gotten into the league and that’s the way I’ve made teams is to know all the positions so I can fill in anywhere.” Fowler specifically mentioned getting reps inside and outside, a versatility that Saints Head Coach Sean Payton will always love.
“He’s a smart veteran player.” Coach Payton said when asked about Fowler. “I think there’s a physicality to how he plays. I think he can help us in the kicking game. I think he’s a guy that can block on the perimeter.” More boxes. More checks. Let’s review. Fowler can: play outside, play inside, contribute on special teams, block on the perimeter, has great size at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds with the experience and smarts to catch Payton’s eye. Then on top of all that, he also has the confidence of franchise quarterback Drew Brees.
Deuce Windham and I did a live film study on Fowler earlier in the week. Some of what we observed in just one game fits right in with the scheme of New Orleans even if underutilized in the New York Giants offense in 2019. He showed solid hands last year in New York with a 63.9% catch rate, has great field awareness allowing him to be a reliable option to extend drives and pick up first downs, and can be a go-to in the short area of the field even though his cuts and breaks could be improved.
At his size, he also has great speed running a 4.38 40 coming into the NFL at his Pro day. Speed the Saints could certainly take advantage of on the crossing routes they love to use. According to Nick Underhill, they called 111 plays last year that included at least one such route.
If the biggest improvement you would like to see from Fowler is his route-running (which is already seeing improvement in camp), he’s in the right locker room. One containing old friend Emmanuel Sanders and record-holder Michael Thomas. We here at Canal Street Chronicles asked Fowler about what he has seen from the Saints’ top receiver so far. “He knows how to get open, has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen and just his route running ability. I do not think he gets enough credit for the way he runs routes and how crafty he is” If Fowler wants to work on his own route running, change of direction, and transfer of weight/momentum, he’s got the right guys to lean on.
Fowler named Thomas as being “definitely up there with” Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Odell Beckham, Jr. All of which the former Michigan State receiver has lined up with. Now, he has the chance to take the field with Thomas while rejoining Emmanuel Sanders, and carving out a role with a team that lacked wide receiver play last season. If he can continue to check these boxes, improve 1% every day as Cam Jordan would say, and maintain the confidence of Drew Brees, he may find himself as an active contributor in the 2020 Saints offense. Brees’ word alone is said to have worked for Austin Carr. No reason it couldn’t for Fowler and all he brings to the table.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this team and then whatever my role is on the team is to perfect that role and for Drew to vouch for me like that, it really means a lot just because he is a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he’s a Hall of Fame person as well. “
Can Bennie Fowler do enough to win a roster spot with the Saints? Explain in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints.