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Saints WR Jalen McCleskey making good on more opportunity at training camp

With the WR room looking this ahead of the 2021 season, the Saints seem to like who they have. That means young players like Jalen McCleskey are getting a genuine chance to make the roster.

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

The New Orleans Saints tend to avoid putting a ceiling on players. Allowing them to show up at camp and compete to the best of their abilities with a trust that if they perform well they could land a spot with the team going into the regular season. However, sometimes players end up putting a ceiling on themselves.

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

A lack of “being multiple” as head coach Sean Payton would describe, is often an example. If a player shows up to Metairie without the ability to produce or learn to produce in multiple areas, the team may look to someone at the same position who can also contribute elsewhere.

Think back to Emmanuel Butler. The 2019 undrafted free agent out of Northern Arizona University had some big highlight catches in camp. However, it was his challenges in contributing on special teams that ultimately cost him a roster spot.

The antithesis of that circumstance so far this offseason has been former Tulane and Oklahoma State wide receiver Jalen McCleskey.

Son of former New Orleans Saint J.J. McCleskey, Jalen has made good on the expanded opportunities he’s seen since starting camp.

He has been able to make an impact derived from his remarkable speed, 4.28 - 4.33 most recently. Lightning fast, McCleskey is hard to overlook on a football field. Although his previous bid to make an NFL roster with the Atlanta Falcons had been. After signing with the division rivals as a 2020 undrafted free agent, he was unfortunately waived at roster cuts.

But in New Orleans, his skillset is highly valuable. Especially with all of the ways he’s able to deploy it.

“I think I can definitely bring speed. Whether it be [as a] deep threat, [working] on special teams, playing gunner, punt return... Just being out there and being explosive.”

McCleskey sees it for himself, the ways he can contribute from multiple avenues. This alone helps to raise his chances of making the week one roster following the final preseason game.

With Michael Thomas expected to miss the beginning of the season and Deonte Harris facing a possible suspension, the door is wide open for McCleskey. With an upbringing around the game of football and getting some notable praise from his coaches, it’s becoming easier to expect the young receiver to walk right through.


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