, La. (AP) When Saints rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith picked his jersey number, he had a choice between 10 or 18.
The number 10 held no personal significance to Smith previously, but he knew it meant something to fans in New Orleans.
Brandin Cooks, the Saints’ first-round choice in 2014, wore that number until he was traded to New England in 2017. So Smith, never shy about discussing his own high standards, went with that.
”It meant a lot, what he did on the field when he was here,” Smith said of Cooks, who had two 1,000-yard seasons in New Orleans and is now with the Los Angeles Rams.
”It just boosts the expectations of like, what I have to do. Because I know the guy who wore it before me, he was a great player. So, I want to be a great player.”
The 6-foot-2 Smith is one of two receivers who could grow into significant roles in New Orleans’ passing game. The other is Cameron Meredith, a free-agent acquisition who led Chicago in receiving two seasons ago before missing all of last season with a knee injury.
Smith unabashedly endorses the notion that he was one of the steals of last spring’s draft when he was selected in the third round – 91st overall – out of Central Florida.
Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson said the 6-3 Meredith has the ability to give the Saints some of what they lost when the franchise’s career receiving leader, Marques Colston, retired after the 2015 season.
”When you talk about red zone and third down, one thing you want to do is you want to have length” on the field http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/ezekiel-elliott-jersey
, said Johnson, who also was Meredith’s position coach in Chicago two seasons ago. ”He has the skills to separate in small spaces. For big guys, that’s tough.”
Johnson said Meredith can play out wide, but is particularly adept at executing ”seam” routes down the middle of the field as a slot receiver, particularly against smaller defensive backs.
”There’s a lot of small DBs in the league, and you love to see him match up with small guys, especially in the slot,” Johnson said.
Last season, Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn were the most productive members of New Orleans’ receiving group; Thomas had 1,245 yards and five touchdown catches, while Ginn had 787 yards and four TDs receiving.
Both are back. But if Meredith returns to his form of 2016 – 888 yards, four TDs – and Smith develops quickly, quarterback Drew Brees could find it easier to punish defenses for shading coverage toward a particular side of the field, or a particular receiver.
Smith missed a number of offseason practices with a hamstring injury, but was able to take part in summer workouts Brees hosted in California.
Since camp opened, Smith periodically has been working with the first-team offense, and Brees has connected with him deep downfield already.
”He can run,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Zach Miller Jersey
, but offered only measured praise beyond that.
”He’s making some good plays and then all of a sudden he’s having a few plays that he’s got to correct,” Payton said. ”His stance and start still need work, but (it’s) something he’s been focused on.”
Meredith had reconstructive knee surgery a little less than a year ago. He’d been easing his way back into on-field work during the offseason. Coaches are still monitoring his snap count during camp, but when he is on the field, he appears to run routes without limitations.
”I’m out here practicing and felt good, so that’s a good sign,” Meredith said, adding that the opportunity to work with Brees is ”amazing.”
”He’s such a leader,” Meredith said, specifying that he has picked up on elements of Brees’ preparation and work ethic that other players can adopt, regardless of the position they play. ”He’s very detailed about everything.”
Johnson calls Meredith ”smart beyond his years,” explaining that the fourth-year pro ”hasn’t played much, but he’s mature … and having Drew on his side is awesome.”
Even before Meredith got back on the field, he appeared to have made a good impression on Brees.
”I like talking to him. I like his attitude. I like what I’ve seen from his prior film. I like his size and his strength,” Brees said earlier this offseason. ”He fits the system well and I think we’re going to be able to do a lot of things with him.”
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays, who have had trouble winning at home for stretches this season, have a chance for their second consecutive series sweep at the Rogers Centre,
The Blue Jays defeated the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Saturday afternoon and have won the first two contests of the three-game interleague series.
It was Toronto’s first shutout since Aug. 10 Phillip Gaines Jersey
, a stretch of 117 games.
Toronto (32-38) will send out right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.66 ERA) to try for the sweep Sunday afternoon. Washington (37-30) will counter with right-hander Tanner Roark (3-7, 3.63).
The Blue Jays swept the Baltimore Orioles in four games in their previous home series June 7-10 before dropping three in a row to the Tampa Bay Rays from Monday through Wednesday at Tropicana Field. Their home record for the season is 18-19.
Toronto’s six-game win streak at home followed an 1-10 drought at the Rogers Centre. The six-game win streak is their longest at home since they won seven in a row July 2-8, 2016.
The Nationals, meanwhile, have been shut out three times in their past five games and are in a 2-5 funk after an 11-4 surge.
“We’ve had some pitches to hit, we just didn’t hit them,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s surprising, but it happens. You run into good pitchers.”
Washington outfielder Bryce Harper was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday and is in a 1-for-11 drought with three walks. He also has been hit twice by pitches.
“I watch him and he gets a little frustrated,” Martinez said. “The biggest is just to keep him level-headed and let him go out there and just do his thing. He is one of the best players in the game, he’s going to carry us, I know he is.
“He had a couple of pitches to hit (Saturday) and fouled them back. Usually, he typically hits those pitches, and hits them really hard and really far.”
Said Harper: “They’ve thrown a lot of heaters the past two days, more than I think as a team we’ve generally seen. But you’ve got to make adjustments and get pitches we can hit and not miss them.
“Good pitching beats good hitting any day of the week. That’s baseball … just have to keep grinding, keep going. I’m feeling great, just missing pitches.”
The Blue Jays, meanwhile http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/ryan-anderson-jersey
, are getting production from second baseman Devon Travis, who hit a two-run homer for the second game in a row Saturday. He was coming back from knee surgery last season and was being given one day off every three games.
“The plan was going into the season that we’d protect his knee a little bit until he started feeling good and we could extend that a little bit,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We’re at that point now. The kid has always hit, he’s a real good hitter, everybody knows it’s just a matter of time. He might have been a little tentative early in the year, too, conscious of his knee a little bit. But two big games in a row here and he’s been really good since he’s come back.”
He had been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on April 29 as he struggled and returned May 22. In his past 18 games, he is batting .333 with one double, one triple, three home runs and eight RBIs.
Roark allowed three runs, six hits and two walks in six innings in a 3-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday. He has never faced the Blue Jays.
Gaviglio gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings Monday in a loss to Rays after shutting out the Yankees in seven innings of a no-decision June 6. He has one career start against Washington and took the loss on May 24, 2017, when he was with the Seattle Mariners. He allowed five runs (one earned) and six hits in six innings in the game at Washington. Womens Johnny Townsend Jersey
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