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Cam Meredith’s Possible Prolonged Absence Could Mean Bigger Role for Saints Rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith

There's been no confirmation from the New Orleans Saints organization as of yet since the team had the day off yesterday, but it would appear that 4th year veteran WR Cam Meredith possibly might not be ready for the start of the 2018 regular season as originally planned.

As reported by NBC Sports, the soon-to-be-26-year old Meredith has missed several days of practice in a row, and tweeted a cryptic message about his current situation on yesterday morning:

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

"So many obstacles on my path, trying to test my perseverance," Meredith said. "No need to fear, my faith is unshaken and I can do all things through Him, for He gives me strength."

Those Tweets from Merrdith himself don't sound the most encouraging, though NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports the issue is not with Meredith's surgically-repaired knee that forced him to miss all of last year when he was previously with the Chicago Bears.

Meredith did not suit up for the Saints' Pre-Season opening win over Jacksonville last week, and will undoubtedly sit out this Friday Night's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Saints resume Training Camp practice later on this morning, and perhaps head coach Sean Payton will share any information on whatever Meredith's current injury status is at the moment.

In any event. it also could mean an even bigger role now within the Saints offense, for rookie WR Tre'Quan Smith.

Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

As most Saints fans are aware by now, Smith  the team's 3rd Round draft pick out of the University of Central Florida — has already become the team's designated #4 WR, and has established himself rather quickly as the team's future deep ball / "homerun threat" in the vertical passing game.

Against the Jaguars, Smith had four catches for 48 yards, both of which were game highs. He also was in on roughly 74 percent of the Saints' total offensive snaps. 

His "highlight play" came on a 26-yard reception where he made a leaping grab and broke a few tackles while keeping his balance and attempting to get inside the 10-yard line.

That play set up a 3-yard Taysom Hill touchdown run which pulled the Saints to within 3 points in the fourth quarter. The Saints went on to defeat the Jaguars by a score of 24-20.

It was a solid debut for the 22-year old rookie and Delray Beach, Florida native; and Payton has been very encouraged by Smith's progress thus far.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

"There's so much to learn, and to his credit he's working hard at it," Payton said to reporters the next day after practice, following the Jaguars game.

"He's making plays. It's cleaning up all the details and nuances of playing receiver in this league and learning the system. But he's made real good strides."

Good enough strides for him to likely see an even bigger role in the team's offense, especially if it turns out that Meredith should require any additional length of time to get ready for his eventual return to game action.

Smith brings the ability to create YAC the acronym for "yards after the catch" — which should allow Payton to expand his play-calling even more for the Saints offense, and one that will be compensating for the 4-game suspension of #1 RB Mark Ingram to start the regular season.

Photo courtesy of Layne Murdoch, Jr.

For his part, even though Smith is only just a rookie, he's ready to meet whatever challenges might lay ahead especially now that he's had the opportunity to play full speed against an NFL opponent, although he's more than aware that there's much more that he still has to learn about playing in the NFL.

"I'm not afraid of expectations if they're held high," Smith told NOLA.com / Times-Picayune beat writer Josh Katzenstein recently .

"I know I'm a competitor, and just being a competitor, you want things to be hard. You don't want nothing to come easy. You want things to be hard as a competitor because you know when you're competing that's when you're at your best."

And as far however Payton intends to utilize him within the confines of the Saints offensive scheme, Smith says that he's up to the task, no matter where he lines up.

"Instead of learning one position, I can learn another spot in the formation," Smith told reporters the day after the game. "Just being able, when the quarterback calls something, to not think about it too much and already having my mind set up on what I'm going to do and how I'm going to work the guy in front of me."

As it turns out, not only did Smith actually did "work" one guy in front of him against Jacksonville, but 3 of them  on a run-after-the-catch that set up what ended up being the winning touchdown.

"After I made the play, I know the next play Taysom (Hill) ran it in," says Smith. "Coming on the sideline, everyone was like, 'Great catch!' And it felt so good knowing that I did something that helped us score. It's just a great feeling."

Smith has certainly given the Saints and their passionate fans a great feeling; as it now appears that for the 2nd straight year, the Saints organization and scouting department led by Assistant General Manager and Director of College Scouting Jeff Ireland, may have gotten another 3rd Round "steal" on the offensive side of the football — just as they did last year with 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara

Photo courtesy of Layne Murdoch, Jr.

That's good news no matter how you choose to look at it, and it's the reason why the Saints offense shouldn't lose much "fire power" with the dynamic young rookie filling in, until Meredith finally gets back on the field.

Tre'Quan Smith is ready to assume an even bigger role for the New Orleans Saints offense this season than what was originally planned. And even though it likely won't be under the most ideal of circumstances with Meredith's possible prolonged absence, Tre'Quan's recent "break out" performances couldn't have come at a better time.

UPDATE (August 15th, 5:40 P.M.) New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill reports that Meredith returned to practice and participated in team drills. It's unclear at the moment if he will see any action this Friday Night against the Arizona Cardinals at the Superdome.....

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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