What an incredible 2 weeks it's been for Saints rookie wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith, during the team's time off from their recent Bye Week.
First, he was on the receiving end of Drew Brees' record-breaking 62-yard TD pass against the Redskins that not only broke the NFL's all-time passing yardage record, but also ended up putting Smith's name in the NFL Hall of Fame alongside of Brees.
What a way to score your first EVER NFL touchdown.
Then yesterday came the news that veteran 12th year WR / punt returner Ted Ginn, Jr. was being placed on injured reserve; which of course now means that Tre'Quan will receive more playing time moving forward — and give him (for the lack of a better term) a "Black and Golden" opportunity to now shine brighter than he already has, with Ginn out of the line-up possibly for the remainder of the 2018 Regular Season.
As first reported by New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill: Ginn was placed on injured reserve yesterday, which will keep him on the shelf for at least 8 weeks minimum, if not the rest of the season.
Ginn was battling a knee injury and was seen in the locker room on Wednesday wearing a thin sleeve. With him out, it is likely that both Tre'Quan and fellow 5th year veteran WR Cam Meredith will both receive more playing time moving forward.
Ginn played in the first 4 games and caught 13 passes for 135 yards. He missed last week's unforgettable and memorable game against the Redskins, in which had a "break out" performance in front of a National TV audience watching on from home, as he played the most that he had all season and caught 3 passes from Brees for 111 yards and 2 TD's.
As Underhill then notes: Tre'Quan should now see an even bigger role in the offense, moving forward as the Saints enter into the "tough part" of their 2018 schedule, which is THE hardest remaining schedule among all of the NFL's 32 teams.
Underhill also makes the observation that Tre'Quan isn't as fast as Ginn, but he did prove capable of getting down the field throughout training camp and showed those very same traits once again against Washington.
Saints head coach Sean Payton likes to move receivers in and out of the line-up; and he also likes them to be versatile enough to play multiple roles within the team's passing game.
However, Payton originally was going to concentrate on just one position for Tre'Quan until he gained more playing experience over the course of time. But that position is an outside receiver in the flanker position; and not in the slot.
With Ginn now on injured reserve, Smith will now likely remain on the outside where Ginn was; while Meredith and Austin Carr will be the ones most likely playing in the slot.
Bottom line: Smith has the better speed and will now be the best option on the team from this point on, for catching deep passes down the field.
Smith, a 3rd-round pick in this past April's 2018 NFL Draft from the University of Central Florida, only had one single catch through the team's first two games; posting his first career reception against the Cleveland Browns back in Week #2..
Smith played 11 snaps on offense in Week #1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and doubled that figure to 22 against the Browns in Week#2. Then he saw 26 snaps a piece in wins on the road over both the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Giants in Weeks #3 and #4; before playing 44 snaps (66.7%) in his "break out" against the Redskins.
According to Payton, Smith has shown plenty more in workouts and practices than his in-game production during the first few games of the season, had indicated.
"He's playing well," Payton told reporters recently. "What I mean by that, at practice, training camp; we just to go find ways to get him more touches. He's handling our installation. He knows what we're doing game-plan wise. I think he's ready to prove that."
Based on Smith's performance against the Redskins, that clearly appeared to be the case.
Tre'Quan is indeed ready for bigger and better things, as he told reporters in the locker room after the team's 43-19 beat down of the Redskins.
"I knew I had to step up," Smith said. "I knew my teammates counted on me and they believed in me and they trusted me. So this week I've been telling myself it was my time to shine. You're up, don't make any mistakes."
Tre'Quan was right about one thing: it definitely is his time to shine.