Sometimes the worth is indeed worth the wait.
Saints wide receiver Adrian Arrington arrived to his third training camp ready to prove to coaches, teammates, and fans that he deserves a roster spot for the 2010 season. After the 2008 Capital One Bowl 41-35 upset over the heavily favored University of Florida, Arrington walked off of the playing field for the last time as a Michigan Wolverine. Arrington played the best game of his college career, catching nine passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Draft experts declared his decision to enter the draft a year early as a mistake because many felt as though he was "not mature enough to play at the next level."
Arrington fell to the seventh round, where the Saints traded with the Green Bay Packers in order to draft Adrian with the 237th overall pick. In his first year, Adrian had a good mini-camp and an even better training camp until his progress was halted by a season-ending toe injury. While on injured reserve, Arrington was able to soak in advice and tips from veteran David Patten as well as recently established Marques Colston. The coaches provided him with the ability to learn while injured in order to better prepare him for next season when he would be at full strength.
When he was finally healthy at the start of 2009 training camp, Arrington was ready to show everyone what he could do on the field. When the season got underway, Adrian was signed to the practice squad, furthering his ability to hone his skills on the professional level. It was a direct testament to the depth at the receiver position the Saints possessed. Arrington was stuck behind Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, and Robert Meachem, as well as special teams ace Courtney Roby. However Adrian stayed resilient, working hard in practices and trying better himself and his teammates.
While on the practice squad during the Saints' magical Super Bowl season, he went up against experienced veteran defensive backs such as Darren Sharper, Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, and Randall Gay. Arrington says that going up against great players such as these make him that much more able to absorb knowledge of defenses and how to succeed against the best. He added that Darren Sharper often gives him advice after drills and routes about what he needs to work on and what he is already doing well. When asked if he thought after two years that he wouldn't have made a huge impact on his team, he said that he was surprised, but knows that his time will come. He also jokingly added that he "absolutely did not" expect to have a Super Bowl Ring at this point in his career.
All five of last year's receivers are returning for the 2010 season, ready to defend their starting positions; but Arrington is not deterred, "I just want to show that I can contribute whether it be as a receiver or even as a special teams player."
Arrington will most likely be competing with Rod Harper, Mark Bradley, and Larry Beavers for the sixth receiver spot on the active roster, if the Saints elect to carry that many on their 53-man roster. But a now healthy Arrington showed his promise in Thursday's game against the Patriots on a 51-yard pass from Tulane product Patrick Ramsey when he broke away from the defense on a catch across the middle. When asked about the catch, Arrington grinned and said, " I've been waiting on that for three years. I would've scored if it was later in camp; these 'camp legs' slowed me down."
Arrington also had a drop on a ball that was thrown a little behind him but claims that since he got his hands on it, he should catch it no matter what. Arrington finished the game with four catches for 87 yards. In his time with the Saints, Arrington has matured into a true team player, willing to do whatever is asked of him to help his team. He looks forward to earning a roster spot, staying healthy, and helping the Saints defend their Super Bowl title in the 2010 season.