In case you missed it yesterday somehow, the New Orleans Saints announced that 4th year veteran WR Brandon Coleman would be placed on the physically unable to perform list to start Training Camp, Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune / NOLA.con reported via Twitter.
Coleman, 26, missed all of the team’s off-season conditioning work with an undisclosed injury.
He re-signed with the Saints on a 1-year deal back in April, after the team declined to tender him as a restricted free agent. Coleman played the second-most snaps of any receiver on the team last season, staying on the field for 62.8 percent of the offensive plays.
Naturally, the next question that needs to be asked is: what does the future hold in store for Coleman, who was already in the proverbial "fight of his life" to make the Final Roster along with a handful of UDFA wide receivers, all of whom are vying for what's likely the 5th and final WR spot when the team kicks off the regular season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Does yesterday's events now suddenly put Coleman even further behind the "8-Ball"?
Coleman finished 2017 with 23 catches, 364 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those aren't exactly numbers that "pop off the charts", but Coleman still played a lot because of his run blocking ability.
But does that ability to run-block JUSTIFY his notable lack of production, which in 3 previous NFL seasons for Coleman adds up to 79 receptions for 1,099 yards and 8 TD's (?)
Those would be great numbers for 1 NFL season, but not 4 of them.
In his first "official" NFL season in 2015, he had 30 catches for 454 yards, but eclipsed 50 yards in just three games. Then in 2016, he had 26 catches for 281 yards, but the best thing he did was establish himself as a reliable run blocker.
And though he didn't blow any one away with his 2017 performance numbers-wise, it's those 2 near-costly fumbles (fair or unfair) against the Jets late last season that his most harshest of critics continually point to, as a reason to move on from him.
It was on that day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a Week #16 contest against the Jets, that Coleman fumbled not once but twice after hauling in passes thrown by QB Drew Brees in a close, hard-fought victory over an over-matched but scrappy New York team.
Amazingly: they were actually the only times that Coleman had ever fumbled the ball in his entire NFL career up to that point.
Prior to the events that took place on that forgettable day for Coleman, he had gone three seasons, 45 games and 77 catches without coughing up the ball once, but yet he fumbled the ball away twice in the red zone in the second half of that 31-19 win.
That certainly doesn't bode well for Coleman given the lack of production he's had since the Saints originally signed him as an UDFA back in the 2014 off-season, before he spent most of that first year on the Practice Squad.
Nevertheless, it's important to note that Coleman has faced this very same dilemma for the past 3 off-seasons, and still has managed to make the Saints Final 53-roster each and every time.
In fact, it was just as recent as last summer when he was being "pushed" by UDFA wide receivers Corey Fuller and Travin Dural.
When the smoke settled and the dust was clear, Coleman was still on the Final 53-man roster, Fuller got cut, and Dural ended up on the Practice Squad himself.
However, this season is shaping up to be a much different scenario for Coleman, and it would appear that his spot on the team this coming season is in BIG-TIME jeopardy.
Coleman essentially had already fallen down the depth chart thanks to the team signing former Chicago Bears WR Cam Meredith in Free Agency, and the selection of this year’s 3rd Round draft pick Tre’Quan Smith out of the University of Central Florida.
He’ll be pushed for the final WR spot by last year’s #5 WR TommyLee Lewis, popular 2017 UDFA rookie Travin Dural, the Breaux Bridge, Louisiana native and former star receiver at nearby local college football powerhouse LSU; former undrafted New England Patriots WR Austin Carr; and the other UDFA's from this recent off-season in rookies Keith Kirkwood and Elridge Massington.
Coleman could have the upper hand thanks to his experience, size, and his well-documented capabilities as a blocker in both the offensive running and receiving game; but he needs to be ON the field in order for that to happen.
It's something unfortunately that for the past few months since the 2017 season ended, that he's been unable to do.
And what if he isn't able to get healthy enough to return any time in the near future?