WR has played games on all levels at stadium
BY Sheldon mickles
August 07, 2012
METAIRIE — When Joe Morgan isn’t thinking about making the New Orleans Saints’ regular-season roster, which is most of the time, he might allow himself to think about the team’s preseason opener Sunday night.
Then again, the game is all part of the process for Morgan, a second-year wide receiver.
A native of Canton, Ohio, Morgan returns home this weekend when the Saints play the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame Game in Fawcett Stadium, which is adjacent to his alma mater — McKinley High School.
Morgan, whose attempt to make the Saints’ roster a year ago ended when he had to have arthroscopic knee surgery after the second preseason game, will try to make an impression on the coaches on the same field he played his little league, middle school, high school and college ball on.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Morgan, a wide receiver who finished at Walsh College in Canton after two years at Illinois.
“It’s going to be big. It feels good to go back to your home stadium, especially because I played every level of football there.”
It showed in Tuesday’s practice when Morgan warmed up for his homecoming with a pair of impressive catches in 11-on-11 drills.
He produced the play of the day when he pulled in a deep pass along the sideline from Luke McCown, coming up with the catch after outfighting cornerback A.J. Davis for the ball when it looked like Davis would easily intercept the throw.
“(Davis) thought he had it,” a smiling Morgan said. “He even screamed it when he went up for it. He was like, ‘This is an interception.’ I take it from him and was like, ‘No, this wasn’t an interception. It’s my ball.’ When the ball is in the air, the ball is ours.”
Later, Morgan made a diving catch over the middle on a pass from backup quarterback Chase Daniel, drawing more cheers.
“I probably could have done that one better,” Morgan said. “Instead of diving, I could have run under it. It looked like a good catch, but there’s still little things that go into every route that you’ve got to work on.”
Not practicing Tuesday were starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer (groin) and Patrick Robinson (shoulder).
Robinson was injured in Sunday’s practice when he hit the ground awkwardly while trying to break up a pass and could miss a couple of days. Greer, who was dressed and participated in pre-practice stretch, was taken to the locker room to be evaluated, interim head coach Joe Vitt said.
Because of the injuries to Robinson and Greer, the Saints defensive staff had to do some shuffling on the fly.
Second-year pro Johnny Patrick took over for Robinson on the right side, while free agent Marquis Johnson replaced Greer on the No. 1 defense.
When Patrick moved into the slot to take his normal spot as the starting nickel back when they went to five defensive backs, fifth-round draft pick Corey White entered the lineup at right corner.
Tight end David Thomas and rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks were on the field Tuesday after returning from injuries.
Thomas missed three consecutive practices with a lower back strain. Hicks has sat out since the start of camp last week because of a fractured hand that he suffered during organized team activities.
“It was nice to get back out there,” Thomas said. “It was kind of frustrating not being out there the last few days, but it (back) feels a lot better.”
Hicks couldn’t wear pads because he’s coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list, but did some conditioning work and agility drills.
Saints officials changed their plans and announced Wednesday’s 8:50 a.m. practice will be open to the public with gates opening 45 minutes before the workout begins.
In announcing Monday night that the team would flip its training camp schedule and work in the morning rather than the afternoon, club officials initially said that Wednesday would be a closed practice.
Practices Thursday and Friday, which begin at 8:50 a.m., are also scheduled to be open to fans. For daily updates, visit www.neworleanssaints.com or click on Twitter @Saints.
Getting it right
Early in team drills, Vitt twice called the offense back into the huddle because of mistakes.
Tight end Jimmy Graham had a false start before free agent wide receiver Marques Clark, who has never been in an NFL camp and hasn’t played football since 2006, lined up in the wrong spot.
“I was just getting them going,” Vitt said.
In the first 11-on-11 period of the day, defensive end Cameron Jordan tipped a Drew Brees pass up and Johnson dove to the ground to get his hands under the ball for an interception.
Later, with Johnson blitzing from the corner, Brees had to quickly get rid of a pass that wide receiver Nick Toon went high to snatch out of the air about 30 yards downfield.
SiriusXM to visit
Former NFL players Jim Miller and Keith Bulluck will broadcast live from Saints camp from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday as part of SiriusXM’s training camp coverage of all 32 teams. The broadcast can be heard on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio package on Sirius Channel 88 and XM Premier.