Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Saints WR Joe Morgan (13) turns upfield with the ball after catching a pass during the Saints’ morning Training Camp practice Monday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
Joe Morgan wants to be known for more than just his speed.
He wants to be known as a complete receiver.
Nearly a month into training camp, Morgan thinks he’s been able to prove he can handle more than just the deep ball, and it may have him in line for a coveted roster spot in a crowded group of receivers.
“I started off camp playing the X receiver, and I’d been a Z since I’d been here,” Morgan said. “X, the guys are running more routes, you could say, so it’s given me an opportunity to focus on the little things that goes into running routes.”
In the past week, with the Saints’ personnel rotations seemingly solidified in practices against the New England Patriots, Morgan seemed to be among the top group, the five receivers that got the vast majority of the work with franchise quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees has been impressed with what he’s seen fr
“(Joe’s) coming every day with a level of consistency that he has been missing in the past,” Brees said. “I have been very pleased with him.”
Morgan might have built a better all-around game, but it’s his ability to get deep that sets him apart.
Against the Patriots last week, Morgan got free for a deep ball from Brees over the head of cornerback Malcolm Butler, one of the stars of New England’s camp.
Brees and Morgan seem to have a special chemistry on the deep ball.
“I would say the last couple weeks, we’ve seen his speed, which was encouraging,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Now it’s just putting it on the field, and part of it’s getting those opportunities, those touch opportunities that sometimes you can go in a game and maybe not get as many.”
Morgan missed one of those opportunities on Saturday night.
Wide-open on a slant, Morgan dropped a ball that could have gone for big yardage. Through two preseason games, he has five catches for 30 yards, but that one could have been a signature moment.
“That’s always been one of my problems,” Morgan said. “I saw an opportunity for a huge play. … I took my eyes off the ball and tried to look downfield a little bit.”
Now, Morgan has to keep moving forward in a wide receiver race that goes as many as eight or nine deep in contention for a roster spot.
A veteran of plenty of these training camp battles, Morgan relishes the challenge.
“First and foremost, it’s fun,” Morgan said. “You’ve been playing football since you were what, seven years old? That’s what you come out here to do is compete. You don’t just go to get things handed to you.”