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Lynn Bowden Jr. ready to fill any necessary role for New Orleans Saints

'You've got to stay ready so you don't have to get ready, man'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.

Lynn Bowden Jr. has some jokester in him, playfully suggesting that he's been working in on defense for the New Orleans Saints this week in practice.

But smiles and kidding aside, the third-year receiver knows that there's a pretty fair chance that he'll see more reps with the offense Sunday, when the Saints (5-6) play Detroit (8-3) in the Caesars Superdome.

Bowden already had been carving out a role as a special team contributor and superb blocker at receiver since first being activated Sept. 24 against Green Bay. Now, with the attrition at receiver – Michael Thomasis on injured reserve with a knee injury and Rashid Shaheed, who left the Atlanta game in the second quarter with a quad injury, didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday – the setting seems ripe for Bowden's workload to increase.

He didn't catch a pass against the Falcons in the 24-15 loss, but he finished with a career-high 40 rushing yards on two carries, including a 29-yarder.

"You've got to stay ready so you don't have to get ready, man," Bowden said. "Coaches, they harp on it since I've been here – next man up mentality. So we all get coached the same way and we all prepare the same way, and I think these guys got us all prepared."

Bowden twice was targeted as a receiver against at Atlanta (on one pass, Bowden informed the official that he believed he'd been interfered with), and in his career has 29 catches for 223 yards, with 72 rushing yards on 11 carries.

"Any time you have some guys go down, it creates an opportunity for somebody else to step up," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I thought Lynn Bowden played well in the game (Sunday). He's done some really good things. I think if he's called upon to go out there and play, and play significant snaps, I expect him to go out and play at a high level.

"His competitive nature. He's a guy that comes in every day with a smile on his face, works extremely hard and he's highly competitive. There have been some roles that we've asked him to do from a blocking standpoint that he's done a really good job of. He's made some plays with ball in hand. I like the guy because he comes in every day and works extremely hard and does everything that we ask him to do."

Bowden said he's willing to fill whatever role he's asked to fill. That also may include returning punts; he was New Orleans' punt returner against Atlanta once Shaheed was injured.

"Whatever role helps the team, whatever one helps the team get a win – blocking, tackling, catching, throwing," he said. "Whatever it is."

That probably won't yet be defense for Bowden, who watched Shaheed and receiver Chris Olave (concussion) not finish the game against the Falcons. Olave is in protocol this week, but practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's hard seeing those guys go down, just all the of the bonding and being out there every day with those guys," he said. "It kind of puts the pressure on us, just to make us go harder for those guys. It makes everything mean more."

It all has significant meaning for Bowden, an "energy" guy who was a third-round pick by the Raiders (No. 80 overall in 2020), who on Sunday will tie his single-season high of games played, with 10.

"I feel like that's what makes me go, and helps me make my teammates go," he said. "I want to be that energizer guy for those guys because without the energy, you're really playing for nothing."

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