There remains some catching up to do for New Orleans Saints receiver Cameron Meredith, which is why he didn't make his regular-season debut Sunday in the opener against Tampa Bay in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Meredith, who spent part of the offseason rehabbing from ACL surgery he had in 2017, missed time during training camp and preseason. Thus, his snap count was behind most of the Saints' receivers and though he showed significant progress in the preseason finale, with two catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, the belief was that he wasn't quite ready for the opener.
"I think, more than anything else, it had to do with just the reps he was behind coming off training camp," Saints Coach Sean Payton said in his Wednesday teleconference. "We'll see how he's doing this week. I think from a health standpoint, he's doing good. It's just getting him up to speed from a timing element and getting him the reps he needs to be ready to function and go in and play consistently."
AIR RAID: The Saints ran 59 plays offensively against Tampa Bay – 45 passes (plus a sack) and 13 runs. But there was a reason for the imbalance, Payton said, and it went deeper than New Orleans playing catch-up in the second half. The approach might change this week against Cleveland. "We wanted to throw it when we began to see how we were getting defended and what was happening relative to our offense (against Tampa Bay)," Payton said. "We'll look closely at the best way we think we have to move the football in this game and understand the type of defense we're playing is quite a bit different than what we just saw."
TYROD TEST: Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, not necessarily known as a scrambler, ran 12 times for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, and was mobile enough to evade the rush all game. Next up for New Orleans: Cleveland's Tyrod Taylor, who is a known scrambler, and who totaled 77 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against Pittsburgh in Cleveland's 21-21 tie in the season opener. Taylor, who completed just 15 of 40 passes (for 197 yards and a touchdown, with an interception) in the game, has run for 1,788 yards and 16 touchdowns on 318 carries in his career, and averages 5.4 attempts for 30 yards per game. "Last week, we saw someone that could create, be it a little differently but nonetheless, made plays with his feet," Payton said. "And certainly our rush plan and how we play Tyrod is going to be important. He's a dangerous player in the pocket and outside."
TAYSOM TIME: Taysom Hill got his first regular-season snap at quarterback in the season opener when he entered the game on the Saints' first series. On second-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 8-yard line, Hill took the snap, ran right, read the defense and pitched to running back Alvin Kamara. "It was a part of a short-yardage or red zone package," Payton said. "If the guy catching the snap is a runner potentially, then you kind of get a number back when you look at how you're going to block things."