The Saints have a huge hole to fill at wide receiver. With Thomas set to miss at least the first six weeks of the season after having surgery to repair a lingering ankle injury, the Saints need someone to step up in a big way.
As if being without Thomas wasn’t enough, Tre’Quan Smith, who was expected to finally have a breakout season after training all offseason with new starting quarterback Jameis Winston, was placed on IR with a hamstring injury and will miss at least three weeks.
But with the emergence of Marquez Callaway and the recent signing of Kenny Stills to the practice squad, do the Saints finally have enough to survive without their two top options? We take a detailed look at the depth the team has at the wide receiver position.
Marquez Callaway has made a name for himself all throughout training camp and the preseason. The 6’2″, 204 pound former undrafted second-year player out of Tennessee has built himself quite the hype train entering into the season thanks in part to his breakout performance in the second preseason game.
Callaway had five catches for 104 yards and two long, spectacular touchdown grabs to help lead the Saints to a 23-21 win. Can he keep up the momentum during the regular season and hold down the No. 1 spot until Thomas comes back?
Callaway has a unique skill set that seems to fit the offense a lot better than a year ago because of his deep playability. At Tennessee, the wide receiver was tied for first in the SEC and forth in the nation in yards per reception with 21.2.
Sean Payton is surely chomping at the bit to utilize that type of big-play potential with his new big-armed quarterback in Jameis Winston to open up the offense for the first time in years. While Callaway has a ton of potential and there’s obviously a lot to like about his game, it would be extremely unfair to put the pressure of replacing the production of arguably the best wide receiver in the game on an undrafted player in his second year.
While he should take a big step forward in his sophomore season, Saints fans should keep expectations to a reasonable level. In Week 1 against the Packers, the receiver had just one reception for 14 yards in what seemed to be a run-heavy game plan approach. Nonetheless, having Callaway in the fold should at least help ease the pain of Thomas’s absence.