Posted: Jul 30, 2013 10:49 PM by AP
METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Sounding contrite and determined to atone for his DUI, Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan said he is working hard to win a starter's job in training camp while dealing with the fallout from his arrest over Memorial Day weekend.
Morgan said his actions on May 25 landed him in Stage One of the NFL's substance abuse program and likely will require him to undergo random testing under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
His court date is set for Aug. 23.
In the meantime, Morgan is going about his business in training camp, battling Nick Toon, fifth-round draft pick Kenny Stills Jr., special teams captain Courtney Roby and others for the third spot on the depth chart behind veteran wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore.
"I've put it behind me because the most important thing to me is football," Morgan said after a recent practice. "I can't say the arrest is not affecting me because I really can't be done with it until my court date, but I got to concentrate on football first."
The 25-year-old Morgan said team officials, coaches and teammates have been supportive since his arrest.
"But, at the same time, they understand and I understand, too, that this situation isn't peaches and cream," he said. "It isn't something that is acceptable, by no means at all. But they've been working with me. That's testimony to the type of character and the type of guys who are in this organization, not just players but the guys upstairs, too. They see something in me, so I'm not going to let them down."
What they see is 10 catches last season for a gaudy 37.9-yard average and three touchdowns in 14 games. It's that big-play potential as a down-field threat that probably sealed the fate of veteran wide receiver Devery Henderson in New Orleans.
"Joe's a good kid," Moore said. "People make mistakes. But he's bounced back and he's definitely going to show people the type of guy he is. ... He's become more of a professional and the thing that I'm encouraged about is that he wants to work and he's willing to work."
A product of obscure Walsh University in his hometown of Canton, Ohio, Morgan caught the eye of Saints officials in 2011 training camp as an undrafted rookie by scoring touchdowns on a pass reception, and kick and punt returns.
But a season-ending knee injury ended his chances of catching on the 53-man roster.
"Even though I did pretty good last year, it shows just how raw I was," Morgan said. "It showed my ability, but it showed how much farther I need to go. One thing I won't get is complacent. I'm an undrafted guy. I'm going to have that chip on my shoulder as a guy who has to prove something every day, every practice, every snap. If you continue to work on your craft, you'll get better."
Slowly but surely, Saints wide receivers coach Henry Ellard said Morgan is getting better.
"He's a speed guy and we're trying to teach him how be a route runner, how to get in and out of his cuts," said Ellard, a prolific wide receiver for 16 seasons in the NFL. "It's just repetition for him.
"The good thing about him is he's just starting to scratch the surface. He has a lot to learn. But what he brings to the table is he can run. He can run by people, and you can't teach that. You can't teach speed."
NOTES: Outside linebacker Martez Wilson left practice Monday morning after injuring his left elbow. "I don't anticipate it being a real significant injury, but we'll see," Saints coach Sean Payton said. The Saints are already without OLB Victor Butler, who has a torn ACL. ... Others on the injury report: WR Marques Colston (foot), WR Jarred Fayson (dehydration), CB Patrick Robinson (knee) and LB Ray Shipman (hamstring). Safety Roman Harper continues to work on a limited basis (sports hernia). ... ILB Curtis Lofton (undisclosed reason) and DE Tom Johnson (stomach illness) also worked on a limited basis. ... The heat index reached 105 degrees by the end of the 2Â½-hour practice under sunny skies.