New Orleans’ rookie wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (10) leaps over defensive back Justin Hardee (34) in practice at the Saints’ camp. (Photo courtesy of The Advocate)
Saints add two to roster; continue with training camp
NEW ORLEANS -- Needing more depth at the wide receiver position after former LSU Tiger Travin Dural suffered a broken humerus during a recent practice and with Brandon Coleman being out of action with an undisclosed injury, the New Orleans Saints signed veterans Michael Floyd and Brandon Tate, according to sources.
The 28-year-old Floyd spent last season with Minnesota, where he caught 10 passes for 78 yards. He broke into the league with the Arizona Cardinals, for whom he posted his best season in 2013 by catching 65 passes for 1,041 yards with five touchdowns.
Tate most recently played in Buffalo, where he returned 20 punts for 193 yards and 28 kicks for 548 yards. He only caught six passes for 81 yards. He likely will be tried out in a similar role here.
It was not yet clear as of Tuesday evening how the Saints opened up the other roster spot.
Speaking of returners, Saints coach Sean Payton recently said the team will keep looking for help in the return game if the many options they are using do not pan out.
“Our return game, it’s kind of like ‘The Bachelor’ right now,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We’ve got about 12 contestants, all with roses. We don’t know who our returners going to be, and if she doesn’t like any of them, we’re bringing in more.”
One of the players on the Saints roster that could be affected by the addition of Tate is Tommylee Lewis. For a player like Lewis, who has gotten 69 percent of his touches in the NFL in the return game over two seasons, that means his roster spot might be in jeopardy.
“I’ve had to fight for it all my life,” Lewis said. “I’m 5-foot-7, I’m going to have to fight for it year in and year out. Ain’t no pressure.”
Rookie wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith has impressed the New Orleans coaching staff and has some comparing him to former Saint Brandin Cooks, who is now with the New England Patriots.
Five days into his first NFL training camp, Smith has shown flashes of the kind of game-breaking ability Cooks brought to the offense.
Few Saints have made more of an impression through the first five days of training camp. Smith, who also made a difficult, contested catch in a driving downpour during Monday’s session, appears to have all the tools, and he’s got a clear knack for taking the top off of a secondary.
“Long speed,” wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson said. “It’s almost like, and I’m not comparing him to anybody, but some of these guys like Randy Moss, they don’t appear to be quick off the ball, but once they get moving down the field, they really pick up the speed.”
But Smith still has a long way to go to earn a key role, no matter how many highlights he’s produced so far.
“He’s making some good plays, and then all of a sudden, he’s having a few plays he has to correct,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said.
A huge question coming into camp for the New Orleans Saints was who will be the back-up to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
Right now the Saints have four quarterbacks on the roster, Brees, fifth year pro Tom Savage, second year player Taysom Hill and rookie JT Barrett.
Savage, who was drafted in the fourth round by Houston out of Rutgers in 2014, started in seven games for the Texans. In those seven starts, Savage was 125 for 223 passing with 1,412 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Now, for the first time in his five NFL seasons, Savage finds himself in a quarterback room with a clear leader, rather than right in the middle of a wide-open competition for the top spot.
Savage, whose first real chance at a starting role ended in disappointment last year with the Texans, is trying to soak up every lesson the legend in front of him has to offer.
“You’d be dumb not to follow what Drew Brees is doing,” Savage said. “I don’t want to get to the point where I’m annoying him, but I’m just going to keep following him and continue to do what he does.”
Hill, a BYU product, has yet to take a snap for the Saints in his career, but has been a fixture on special teams. Right now, Hill is being brought along slowly by the New Orleans staff.
“I think everything in the quarterback position is all timing,” Hill said. “I’m constantly trying to get on the same page with my receivers; they’re trying to get on the same page as us. I think the easiest way to do that is just make sure everything lines up with what Drew does.”