If you asked most that pay close attention to Saints training camp who the MVP was at this point, after about a week in, I think the majority would say Nick Toon. The corner he’s turned and the consistency with which he’s making plays out there is impressive. His biggest play today was a 40 plus yard deep ball perfectly thrown by Drew Brees where Toon came up with a fantastic catch in double coverage between Kenny Vaccaro and Champ Bailey. And so the receiver battle is really starting to take shape. Brandin Cooks has looked incredible as well, and at this point you look at both Toon and Cooks as guy vying to get a high volume of reps come the regular season. We’re not just talking about making the 53 man roster here, but they seem to be developing at a rate where they’ll make a significant contribution on the field in 2014. At least that’s the hope, Toon has shown promise in camp before.
The difference this time, though, is he’s getting reps with the 1s and Brees is going his way often. That stands out more than previous camps to me because Toon is now developing chemistry and trust with the starting quarterback. Making plays with Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin is a way to make it on the roster, but making plays with Brees is how you see passes come your way in the regular season. Ultimately, a big part of the reason why he couldn’t bounce back after a terrible start last season was that Brees simply stopped looking his way. There were times that Toon was wide open and Brees missed him in later games. That’s because Toon was so inconsistent in his routes and production that Brees just didn’t have confidence going his way. That seems to be changing.
That’s not to discount Marques Colston, who Brees has referred to in the past as “Mr. Reliable”, Kenny Stills who is sitting out with a quad problem for the time being, and Robert Meachem who is a veteran and knows what to do. Those are the five players most likely to get the lion share of the reps come the regular season, but undrafted rookies Seantavious Jones and Brandon Coleman have both made a lot of plays too. You can’t completely rule out those two having a shot at the roster, or at least the practice squad in case someone gets injured. Andy Tanner is another guy that continues to make the guys ahead of him earn everything. As much as the receivers struggled last season it certainly feels like a very strong position at the moment with a lot of guys making plays.