The Saints had excellent production from their wide receivers on opening day. David Patten, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore all contributed mightily to a hard-fought 24-20 win over the Bucs. Their combined totals of four catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns made it easy to forget how little of an impact Marques Colston had on the game.
We now know why Colston was so ineffective, but at the time no one was aware of his thumb injury. But it didn’t matter because the rest of the wide receivers were picking up the slack.
In fact, the combination of Patten, Henderson and Moore was so potent that I began to wonder if Robert Meachem, the Saints first round pick in 2007, would ever see the field as an active member of the team. After all, who would he replace?
Certainly not any of the three aforementioned guys. They were playing too well to be demoted. Maybe Terrance Copper, but likely not. The Saints value his contributions on specials teams too much to deactivate him.
Admittedly, the outlook for activation looked pretty grim for the second year pro.
But now things are different. Colston’s services as the Saints’ best offensive weapon are not available for the next four-six weeks. Meachem will undoubtedly receive his first career activation on Sunday, and if things go well, that won’t be the only reception he gets.
Meachem garnered consistent praise from the coaching staff in training camp for his improvement. Fans saw it as well on the field during preseason games.
But now the games count. Does Meachem have what it takes to succeed when the score matters? When it’s no longer a glorified audition?
Obviously, the former Volunteer won’t be asked to step in right where Colston left off. He’ll be used as a third wide receiver and might get 12-15 snaps if he’s lucky.
But a lot can be accomplished as a third wide receiver. Look at what Henderson did against the Bucs.
A successful first game for Meachem would look something like this: Three catches for 40 yards and no fumbles or drops. If he gets that, he’s golden. He’s money, baby.
From there he can build on the things he learned without worrying about letting the team down. And in the next game, he’ll come out a little stronger and more prepared.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter how well he does, at least he will have gotten on the field in a meaningful game. It took longer than anticipated, but the day has finally arrived. Let the Robert Meachem era begin.