31 text messages.
That’s how many were sent to WR Joe Morgan’s cellphone after the Saints preseason opener last Friday night against the 49ers in the Superdome.
Morgan returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown and made an acrobatic 21-yard catch along the sideline in his first NFL game that night.
His touchdown was named the No. 1 play of week one of the NFL preseason by SportsCenter and No. 2 by the NFL Network.
“It has been a normal week except for some of my teammates joking about it and calling me No. 1 when they see me,” joked Morgan. “The main thing I am doing right now is trying to keep focus. I have put that touchdown and the 49ers game behind me.”
Not many fans knew of Morgan prior to the preseason opener. He was one of the 20 undrafted rookies to sign with the Saints at the start of camp.
He played two seasons at Walsh after spending his first two campaigns at the University of Illinois and had 79 catches for 1,317 yards (16.7 avg.) with nine touchdowns.
Morgan, 23, said he hadn’t returned a punt in a game since high school prior to his electrifying touchdown score last Friday.
When asked about how he felt right after scoring his first NFL touchdown, he said he didn’t see it as his scoring debut but as a “team score.”
“It was a great feeling and it shows how much work the team has been doing in camp,” said Morgan. “It wasn’t just me who scored that touchdown it was 10 guys making great blocks. I just ran with the ball.”
Morgan knows showcasing his special team talents will increase his chances of making the final 53-man roster because of the Saints established core of receivers in
“We have one of the best receiving groups in the NFL,” said Morgan. “They help us a lot. They help the new guys by teaching us a lot when the coaches aren’t around.”
Moore in particular can appreciate Morgan’s position. Moore also went undrafted and spent most of his first two years with the Saints on the practice squad. Similar to what Morgan is doing now, Moore helped secure his spot on the Saints roster in 2006 by sticking out on special teams.
“When you see somebody that has to go about it the hard way and has gone through similar things make a play like that you are definitely happy for them,” said Moore. “I know how it is with the odds stacked against you and I hope the best for him.”
Morgan will get his second chance to prove himself Saturday night in Houston.
Despite the fanfare that came with his highlight plays in the opener, the undrafted wideout knows it didn’t guarantee anything.
There are currently 90 players on the Saints roster and only 53 will make the final roster that will be announced on Sept. 3. Morgan said his approach is to take every opportunity he gets as if it is his last.
“Friday night was fun and exciting but I haven’t earned anything yet,” said Morgan. “Right now I am focusing on ways I can improve and working with the coach as much as I can. I don’t know when my number will be called but I know I will be ready.”