The New Orleans Saints lost wide receiver Robert Meachem to free agency this offseason. Meachem averaged 43 receptions over the past three seasons, and someone on the team's roster will now need to step in to fill that hole. Veteran Devery Henderson may see more playing time as a result, or rookie Nick Toon could be expected to help compensate. There is also a chance, though, that the Saints will finally give more targets to Adrian Arrington.
Arrington caught 107 passes for 1,426 yards and 16 touchdowns in his last two years at Michigan. He was drafted by the Saints in 2008, but spent most of his first two seasons on injured reserve and the practice squad. New Orleans has gotten him a little more involved over the past two seasons, particularly in preseason games. In 2010 and 2011 preseason games, Arrington totaled 19 catches, 359 yards and three touchdowns. As a Saints fan, it is clear to me that Arrington has some talent and that the team sees some potential there.
The Saints have used Arrington sparingly during regular season play. In the final regular season game of the 2010 season, he got his first shot and made the most of it, catching seven passes for 79 yards. Unfortunately, he then managed only two receptions in three games during 2011. He did match those two catches with two more in the 2011 postseason, perhaps a sign that the team will be using him more in 2012.
The New Orleans Saints have five players returning who caught at least 50 passes in 2011: Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas. Adding in Henderson's 32 catches and Toon's star-receiver potential helps to illustrate the challenge that awaits Arrington. However, when given chances, he has proven to be a viable receiver and could bring added production to one of the league's elite passing offenses.
This may be Arrington's last opportunity to stick with the New Orleans Saints. At 26-years-old, he still has time to be a key player. It will be interesting to see just how Arrington is used by the team this preseason.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.
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