Posted June 04, 2013 on AP on Fox
A young, unproven receiver will likely find himself on the field this fall for a Saints passing game that has been among the NFL's best since Sean Payton and Drew Brees joined forces in New Orleans in 2006. Payton and wide receiver coach Henry Ellard, a former standout NFL receiver himself, will spend the next few months determining whether one of two recent draft choices or a host of undrafted free agents on the roster deserve that shot. ''At this point, it's hard to say,'' Ellard, now in his second season on New Orleans' staff, said after the first practice of minicamp on Tuesday. ''We're keeping it wide open and changing the rotation, each and every day at practice and seeing how guys respond in different situations.'' The candidates include Kenny Stills, who was drafted in the fifth round of this year's draft out of Oklahoma, and second-year pro Nick Toon, who missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury after being drafted in the fourth round out of Wisconsin. At 6-foot-4, the same height as Marques Colston, Toon stands out and also has pedigree. His father, Al, was a former All-Pro receiver with the New York Jets. The younger Toon also distinguished himself during 11-on-11 drills at the end of Tuesday's practice, when he made an adjustment and diving catch on a back-shoulder throw deep down the left sideline. ''He has good size. I like that. And length,'' said Payton, who was suspended in connection with the NFL's bounty probe when Toon joined the team last spring. ''It's just a matter of getting settled in and once we get into the pads, establish himself as someone who is consistent.'' ''We have some young guys at the receiver position,'' Payton said. ''All of those guys are competing for spots and playing time.'' Two seasons ago, the Saints' primary receivers were Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson. Meachem signed with San Diego as a free agent in 2012. Henderson became a free agent after last season and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has indicated the club plans to move on without him. That leaves at least one, if not two, receiver spots that will see regular time on the field. ''We've got a great group of young receivers that really all have a chance to make their mark and find a place in that group,'' Brees said. ''Kenny Stills is showing a lot of promise. He's a young, talented guy. All those guys understand that they are going to get some opportunities and they have to make the most of them and see how they can fit into this offense.'' Last year, Joe Morgan emerged at the Saints' fourth receiver. He made some spectacular plays, but was inconsistent and limited in the types of routes he ran effectively, Ellard said. ''We know he can run down the field,'' Ellard said. ''But I want him to become that intermediate guy that can get in and out of cuts and still be able to make plays over the middle of the field instead of always just down the field.'' Toon, Ellard said, is already ahead of the curve in terms of the precision of his routes. ''His father played the game and I'm pretty sure taught him a little bit,'' Ellard said, adding that Toon also has ''great hands.'' Stills' father, also named Kenny, played in the NFL as well, but as a defensive back, which is where Stills played in high school before the Sooners converted him to receiver. A couple months before the Saints drafted Stills, he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. ''Just a smart kid that can run. We love that part because you can't coach speed,'' Ellard said. ''He's adjusting well to what we're doing, picking up on things and eliminating mistakes.'' Stills said one of his biggest adjustments was dealing with the speed at which everyone else plays in the NFL. ''It's a fast game at this level,'' Stills said. ''That's kind of the first thing that I learned and saw. But I'm always going to be confident in my speed and my ability to run by people, and hopefully I get that chance to do it in this offense.'' Stills said his father warned him about the speed of the NFL, and also advised him that the best way to find his way in the league was to work hard on his own assignments and not get distracted worrying about the pecking order at his position. ''Talking to my dad, it's not about trying to find your spot or thinking about taking somebody's spot or getting on the field right away,'' Stills said. ''For me it's just learning and being able to take advantage of my opportunity. Obviously it's a great opportunity for there to be spots open, but I just want to be able to be ready, that way if they feel like I'm ready to play I'll get in there and play and do the best of my ability.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

New Orlean Saints haven’t decided on a play-caller

With New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton coming back from a year long suspension and his interim putting up 28.8 points a game, the team still hasn’t decided who will be the play-caller this season. Through NFL.com, Payton speaks on the situation briefly. “We haven’t worked through all that yet,” Payton said, per Mike Triplett of The Times-Picayune. “But Pete’s...

Saints undecided on who'll have playcalling duties in 2013

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton isn't quite decided on who'll be calling the plays when the season begins. In his absence, that role was handled by offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, both when Payton broke his leg and torn his MCL in a sideline collision, and of course when the Bountygate suspensions were doled out. “We haven’t worked through all that...

Saints' Keenan Lewis hospitalized after stomach pains

New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis was having some really bad stomach pains, so he checked himself into the hospital Tuesday. Although it's not considered serious, Doctors had him stay overnight for observation, reported The Times-Picayune. No news yet on what the cause of the ailment was. The paper also reported that he has been released from the hospital and may...

Saints Nation: David Hawthorne Destined as a Bust Free Agent Signing?

The first season of David Hawthorne's tenure with the Saints was about as close to a disaster as one could imagine. Performance wise, it was in keeping with some of the medium profile veteran linebacker pick ups of the past like Bryan Cox, Derrick Rodgers, Dan Morgan, Clint Ingram, Orlando Ruff and Rufus Porter that resulted in pure trash. Injuries limited his playing time and...

Saints Nation: Mini Camp Updates

The Saints made mini camp available for the fans and media to witness today so there's finally some updates to share. Here's some information I gathered from numerous sources on twitter, most notably Larry Holder of the Times Picayune. Most notable is how good Jimmy Graham looks and everyone was very quick to point that out. Obviously things will change drastically once...

Saints Nation: Tim Tebow is a Good Fit for Saints

Hey guys. It’s been a while. This is the first article I have written in a couple of weeks due to writer's block, quite frankly. A little bit of a backstory on how I thought of this article topic: I was driving up to Chicago and I was listening to NFL Radio on Sirius XM and they were talking about Tim Tebow and his chances of ever playing in the NFL again. I called in to weigh...

Saints TE Graham healthier, seeks improvement

Jimmy Graham talks about his performance last season as if it was a disappointment. Forget that many tight ends would have been pleased to make 85 catches - which led the Saints - for 982 yards and nine touchdowns. That still represented a drop-off for the 6-foot-7 Graham, who had one the best seasons ever for a tight end in 2011. A converted college basketball player drafted...

Keenan Lewis back at Saints OTA’s

Accordng to Larry Holder of NOLA.com, Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis was back on the practice field today after spending some time in the hospital for stomach pains. The good news is that Lewis’ stomach pains weren’t serious but doctors wanted to hold him for further observation.  The good news is that he’s back on the field with his teammates.   Need NFL Tickets? The...

Jimmy Graham “hungrier than ever” as he enters a contract year

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham told NOLA.com that he’s “hungrier than ever” to prove the naysayers wrong this coming season. Graham has to prove to the Saints that he can stay healthy and have a highly productive season since this is the final year of his current contract. Need NFL Tickets? The post Jimmy Graham “hungrier than ever” as he enters a contract...

Jimmy Graham Lighting Up OTAs with Saints

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (wrist) was the most impressive player on the field during Tuesday's minicamp practice, according to Mike Triplett of NOLA.com.Fantasy Spin:Triplett suggests that Graham is "obviously coming along well" after undergoing wrist surgery at the end of last season. Graham had a solid 2012 season, catcing 85 passes for 982 yards and nine touchdowns...

Marques Colston Turns 30 Years Old

30 is the new 20 Juan… Jimmy Graham is the real #1 WR on the Saints, but Colston has been as steady as a rock in the high flying Saints attack.  Today, Marques Colston turns 30. Happy Birthday! To See More of Today’s bdays click here. 2013 WR Rankings Drew Brees and His Wife Keep Playing Dress Up For Their Movie Nights  

The rise of Cuato

Cuato Enters the NFL Cuato, the alien entity we allege has affixed itself to the face of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, groomed its symbiotic for greatness since birth. Recognizing the immense power in celebrity, particularly when combined with the massive popularity of the NFL, Cuato turned Brees into a champion player of Hall [...]The post The rise of Cuato by Robert...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.