Two days after suffering a handful of injuries at the wide receiver position during their Black and Gold scrimmage, the New Orleans Saints called in help Monday, activating Marques Colston from the physically unable to perform list and signing seventh-year pro Steve Breaston to a one-year deal.
The Saints also re-signed former ULM wideout Brent Leonard, a rookie free agent they had cut July 30.
The roster moves seemed to be a reaction to Saturday’s scrimmage, which wideout Joe Morgan could not finish after absorbing a hit from rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro. Morgan missed practice Monday afternoon as the Saints await “a secondary opinion ... on his knee,” coach Sean Payton said without elaborating.
Wide receiver Andy Tanner tweaked his shoulder at the scrimmage while being guarded by Vaccaro, and he missed Monday’s practice, too. To enable the additions of Breaston and Leonard, New Orleans waived undrafted rookie kicker Jose Carlos Maltos as well as wide receiver Chris Givens, who apparently suffered a shoulder injury Saturday after hauling in a 39-yard pass, one of the best plays of the scrimmage.
Payton said the team let Colston, who’s had seven seasons to master the Saints playbook, miss the first nine days of practice at training camp because he had a foot injury that could have been irritated if he was rushed back.
“He needed some rest, and we were able to give him that,” Payton said.
For his part, Colston said he was back to practice because the training staff told him he was ready — not because the ranks at wide receiver were depleted.
“It was just a coincidence,” Colston, who didn’t participate in team drills Monday, said when asked about the timing of his activation from the PUP list. “Obviously, with a couple of guys going down, it doesn’t hurt. But this was kind of the target date we set about a week ago.”
Colston, the Saints’ all-time leading receiver, caught 83 passes for 1,154 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Meanwhile, Breaston was among a few receivers who worked out with the Saints between the scrimmage and Monday. Payton said Breaston stood out from the rest because “he has experience, can run and has had a lot of snaps in this league.”
Breaston, 29, was selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft by the Arizona Cardinals and remained there until 2011. His best year was in 2008, when he had 77 receptions for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns and was part of a receiving corps that included Larry Fitzgerald and helped Arizona get to Super Bowl XLIII.
In 2011, the 6-foot-1 Breaston signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with Kansas City, when the Chiefs were under the direction of coach Todd Haley. Breaston had 785 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his first year with the Chiefs, but then Haley was replaced by Romeo Crennel.
Breaston had just seven catches for 74 yards and no touchdowns in 2012, and he was released in February.
For his career, Breaston has 255 receptions, nine touchdowns and 3,387 yards in 86 games. He’s gotten 13.3 yards a catch and 39.4 receiving yards a game, and his longest reception went for 58 yards.
To compare, in his 14 games with the Saints, Morgan has caught 10 passes for 379 yards, and his longest reception went for 80 yards.
According to a report from ESPN, Breaston has dealt with knee inflammation since the 2012 season concluded, but his agent said MRIs revealed nothing alarming.
Asked to comment on why he believed the Saints opted to sign him Monday, Breaston pointed to his route-running ability.
He also told reporters that he was excited about playing in an offense led by quarterback Drew Brees. After all, he enjoyed his best season when teamed up with Kurt Warner, who, like Brees, once won a Lombardi trophy.
“(Brees) is a great quarterback,” said Breaston, who participated in individual drills at his first practice but not team ones. “Having an opportunity to catch passes from him — I’m very fortunate to have that.”