Saints training camp position battles that will be worth watching

Trevor Penning, New Orleans Saints - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Penning, New Orleans Saints - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Orleans Saints
Rashid Shaheed #22 of the Weber State Wildcats. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

Saints Position Battle No. 1: Deonte Harty vs. Rashid Shaheed at kick returner and wide receiver

Many Happy Returns!

Oh, man, did I ever save the best for last!

Let’s start with the obvious once again. Mike Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and rookie Chris Olave are the starting wide receivers. Duh.

Despite Deonte Harty trailing only Marquez Calloway for receptions, yards receiving, and wide receiver TDs last year, he comes up a little short when we speak of this year’s roster depth.

How short? 5-foot-6 inches short.

Don’t get me wrong. Harty has great speed as he led the team with 15.8 yards/catch, but he can be outmuscled and out-heightened when going up for the catch.

The fun part comes watching him return kicks and punts. Averaging 23.8 yards per kick return and 9.5 yards per punt return, he was always a threat to go the distance, which he did once in 2019.

Rashid Shaheed returned seven kicks for TDs in his college career, including two last season.

Shaheed received the Saints’ highest signing bonus among UDFAs at $220 thousand. I don’t know if that made the top two in the league, but the only UDFA in the NFL I’ve seen with a larger signing bonus this year is QB Carson Strong, who many projected to go in the second round.

Shaheed tied records for career TD returns and most All-American honors

Weber State is far from the NFL, but Shaheed averaged 17.9 yards per catch in his 700 receiving yards and 1,503 all-purpose yards last year. He was a four-time FCS All-American as his Weber State team won four straight Big Sky conference championships.

He’s also 6 feet tall, a full half foot taller than Deonte Harty. If Shaheed’s receiving skills match up anywhere near his kick return talent, Deonte Harty could be on the outside looking in when the final 53 Saints are named.

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