Saints WR Josh Morgan off to good start as he aims to revive career


METAIRIE, La. -- Josh Morgan's career seemed like it might be fading to black earlier this year. After two quiet seasons in Washington and Chicago, the veteran wide receiver was still unsigned in May.

But Morgan, 30, hadn't disappeared from at least one coach's consciousness -- new New Orleans Saints receivers coach John Morton, who coached Morgan with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.

Morton recommended Morgan to the Saints, who brought him in for a three-day tryout during their rookie minicamp and signed him the next day.

"He's played in this league -- he's started in this league. He's a veteran guy. And he's our type of player," Morton said. "He's tough, he's a physical player. He's smart, understands the game. And he's consistent."

So far, Morgan has been making the most of his opportunity in New Orleans. The 6-foot, 219-pounder consistently reeled in several midrange passes on a daily basis during organized team activities and minicamp while working with both the first- and second-string offenses.

Though Morgan didn't have a ton of highlight-reel plays, he appeared to be in a close battle with veteran tight end Benjamin Watson for the most total catches throughout the practices that were open to the media.

"There's definitely a big opportunity here," said Morgan, who caught a career-low 10 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown last season in 14 games played with the Chicago Bears, after having caught just 20 passes with no TDs in his final year with the Washington Redskins in 2013.

"[Getting a grasp of the playbook] is always the hardest thing," Morgan said. "Learning the terminology, learning how Drew [Brees] wants things, his signals, that's always the hardest part. Everything else is just football."

As good as Morgan has looked, it's still hard not to paint him as a "bubble" player.

Even though the Saints traded away starting receiver Kenny Stills this offseason, they still have Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones, among others, as serious contenders for just five or six roster spots. And the Saints typically use only four receivers on game days.

One of Morgan's best assets will be his proven blocking ability -- something the Saints have always valued in their receivers. Blocking is a big reason why the Saints kept bringing back veteran Robert Meachem in recent years until they opted not to re-sign Meachem this offseason.

"Josh is someone that on film has shown that he does that and that he does it pretty well," said Saints coach Sean Payton, who said the two things that most attracted New Orleans to Morgan were Morton's recommendation and Morgan's versatility. "He's smart, he's tough, he will block, he does a lot of things well.

"I think as we were beginning to put together the numbers at that position he fit a lot of the things that we were looking for."