METAIRIE — It is not the way former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem wanted to return home, struggling to justify his star status with the San Diego Chargers.
But that’s the position Meachem finds himself heading into Sunday night’s primetime game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Slowed in training camp by a sore knee, Meachem has been unable to get on the same page with quarterback Philip Rivers, and contributed little to the Chargers’ 3-1 start and early lead in the AFC West. Meachem has been targeted 15 times through four games, catching just six passes for 92 yards and no touchdowns.
Those are hardly the numbers one might expect from a speedy free agent wide receiver who signed a four-year, $25.9 million contract that features $14 million in guaranteed money, including a healthy $7.5 million signing bonus.
“It’s one of those things where I have to be patient,’’ said Meachem, the Saints’ No. 1 draft pick in 2007, the 27th-overall selection. “Things don’t always go the way we plan. God has a plan for all of us. I have to stay humble, keep working hard, be patient and have fun.”
That would aptly describe Meachem’s last four years in New Orleans, working hard and having fun, topped by the Saints’ karma-filled run to a Super Bowl XLIV championship in 2009.
Meachem ended his five-year run in New Orleans with 141 catches for 2,269 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Though Saints officials attempted to re-sign Meachem during free agency, he ultimately left New Orleans for more guaranteed money and an opportunity to play a bigger role in the Chargers offense.
“The Saints made a quite few offers to me,’’ Meachem said. “It was a hard decision, but I think the San Diego offer was just better for me and my family. The opportunity in San Diego had a lot to do with it, and Drew wasn’t signed yet, and they had to give him his money.
“At the end of the day, it was a business decision and sometimes you have to do stuff that you don’t want to do. I knew they couldn’t keep all of us. But leaving New Orleans was tough because of the great fans there, the players and the organization. Everybody treats you like family.’’
Despite that feeling, Meachem said he would like nothing better than to have a “breakout game’’ against his former team with his former coach, Sean Payton, looking on from an undisclosed site in the Superdome.
“I hope we come in and play our game, and I pray that the Good Lord will allow me to have a great game,” Meachem said.
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