It would be inaccurate to say that Marquez Callaway has heard the whispers, because the criticisms of the New Orleans Saints' receiving corps has been more along the lines of shouts at times this season.
During and after the Saints' 27-25 loss to Atlanta on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome was one of those times, as New Orleans (5-3) was credited with seven dropped passes. Not all were attributable to receivers, but the group bore the brunt of the talk.
"Of course we hear it," Callaway said. "It's not like we don't see it. If they say they don't see it, I highly doubt it. But people are going to say what they want to say, people are going to do what they want to do.
"We've just got to be mentally strong, mentally focused because they're not in here with us. They're not on the field with us. They're not in meetings with us. They're not doing the things that we're doing. We just go out there, do what we can do. We play for each other, we play for the team, we play for each other that's on the field."
Entering Sunday's game against the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Callaway is tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches, second in receptions (22) and third in receiving yards (309).
He said the receivers understand and accept their responsibility in New Orleans' low passing game total (191.6 passing yards per game, 31st in the league).
"Honestly, it can't be put on nobody but us," he said. "There's nobody out there running the routes getting open but us, so that has to be all on us. We push each other, the defense pushes us and that's all we can do. With things not working out in our favor, with the lack of numbers, all we can do is go out and play the next play. We're aware of that, we're harder on ourselves than anybody, so we're aware of it. So we just try and go and do what we can.
"The offense is designed to go to where the play-makers are. We can't get the ball to the play-makers if we can't get open. So if defenses are going to play us man, that relies a big part on us, getting open and catching the ball.
"Trevor (Siemian) stepped up making some great throws, we've just got to come down with the ball. We don't have any excuse for it, it's just something we've got to work on. I think that's what this week will be big on, us getting familiar even more with Trevor, or whoever's going to be back there, and clicking on Sundays."
Coach Sean Payton suggested Monday that the coaching staff could assist by coming up with schemes that will be conducive to getting receivers open.
"Anything that we can use for our advantage helps us tremendously, whether that's Coach doing whatever he's saying he's doing, or that's us on our end watching more film or being more prepared," Callaway said. "But any advantage we can use, we'll take it."
Too, Callaway said the receivers would do as much as possible to help themselves, including even more film study.
"There's film for (nine) weeks," he said. "For now, everybody's DNA and reputation is on film. So whether it's press (coverage), off (coverage), the small details that they do, how they play things – hundreds of routes run on them, same ones we run. So just watching it from the last game to the first game we played, see if anything's changed, anything is happening. Just things like that.
"In this league, if you're a receiver, you can catch. You wouldn't be in the league if you can't catch. It's not a catching thing, it's just more detail, more focus. I think focus is the biggest thing, and getting used to everything that's going on. Because Trevor throws different from Taysom (Hill), Jameis (Winston) throws different from Ian (Book). Everybody's different, so just being on the same page with them and being focused."