After just three games into the 2008 season, Tight End Jeremy Shockey was the New Orleans Saints second leading receiver. He was coming off his best game as a Saint, 8 receptions for 75 yards. He looked poised, intense, and just as reliable as billed. Unfortunately, Shockey will miss at least the next three games with a sports hernia.
Quarterback Drew Brees finally had his go-to guy at tight end, a vocal leader that can be counted on in almost any match-up or situation. Shockey was slowing making his way into the Saints scheme. Now, the offense, the team, and the fans will have to wait 3 to 6 weeks for another look at number 88 on the field.
With Wide Receivers Marques Colston out for at least a month and David Patten injuring his groin (his status is uncertain), the Saints are going to have to see what their bench is made of.
Devery Henderson has the skills, but lacks the consistent catching ability needed for him to excel. He is always good for two great plays a game, but there will be a big drop or fumble to go along with it.
Robert Meachem, this is your time to shine sir. He should see extended playing time, as his on field time has increased more with each game. He has the speed, the moves, and the catching ability, but can he stay healthy enough to prove to everyone that Meachem was worth a first round pick? Only increased playing time will answer that question.
Lance Moore had significant playing time at Denver. He had 7 receptions for 78 yards. He plays bigger than his size, 5'9" 190 lbs. He has great speed and good moves, but he too needs to prove that he can catch the ball more. Moore has stuck around so far, which should mean that he is worth having around.
Terrance Copper hasn't really done anything since the 2006 season. He has missed time because of a hamstring problem, which could hamper him on the field.
Mark Campbell is more of a blocking tight end than a receiver. He missed all of last season and was inactive for the Denver game with a pulled hamstring. Not sure how much help he can be in Shockey's place.
Billy Miller just seems to stick around. He does make some spectacular catches time to time, but he is too inconsistent. He not the best blocker either, which was probably why he was cut last week.
Perhaps it's time for the Saints to give an old friend a call. That's right, Joe Horn. He could still be a reliable commodity for short yardage completions. He would probably come in for at least 10 to 15 plays a game, so fatigue won't be a factor. He knows the system and Brees.
The Saints could bring back tight end Eric Johnson if things don't pan out with Miller and Campbell. He too knows the system and would only be around till Shockey at least comes back. Then, the team could make a decision on who to keep, that kind of incentive would get Johnson working extra hard.
Injuries have been a factor so far this season, but it doesn't have to define it. Proper moves need to be made in order to steady the ship till players come back, whether that is a player signing or current players stepping up. If the team can be smart about this recent list of injuries, the Saints will be in good shape when this rough patch finally passes over.