Skip to main content
New Orleans Saints

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

Presented by

Tight end Nick Vannett emerging on offense for New Orleans Saints

'This opportunity is all I've ever wanted'


Nick Vannett tore a tendon in his right index finger, and he's wearing a splint on it. Vannett said the injury is similar to, but not as severe, as the Mallet Finger injury quarterback Taysom Hill is playing with.

So Vannett's injury pretty much has flown under the radar, as has the New Orleans Saints tight end, who seems to be settling in just fine after missing the first nine games of the season.

Vannett, who said he looked forward to being a part of the passing game when he signed with the Saints in the offseason, has caught a team-high six passes for 92 yards the last two games. The Saints (6-7) will face the NFC South Division-leading Buccaneers (10-3) on Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

"I approach each week the same," said Vannett, who has eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in four games. "Whatever my workload is, I try to focus on that and do it to the best of my ability. I think with that, it's brought upon more opportunities each week. I just try to do the same thing, just focus on my load, and focus on the process.

"Obviously, it's been going well so far and that's where I have to realize that I can't take the foot off the gas. I have to keep going with my preparation and the process with everything I do throughout the week. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself.

"Obviously, this (opportunity) is all I've ever wanted. Ever since I've been in the league, I've been very hopeful for this opportunity. I'm really happy to have it and trying to take advantage of it as much as I can."

Injuries played a part; tight end Adam Trautman was hurt late in the game against Philadelphia and then placed on injured reserve. He was designated for return this week.

But just as much, Vannett has shown the ability to make plays when given the opportunity. He'd previously totaled six receptions in consecutive games only four times in his career – twice in 2018, once in '19 and once in '20 – before doing so with New Orleans against Dallas and the Jets. And his 92 combined yards over the two games is the best two-game output in his career.

Even with the splint, Vannett joked that he has soft hands.

"They know," he said of the coaches, smiling. "They see it every day."

Too, they've seen his blocking ability. That skill was a major factor in New Orleans signing Vannett, who spent his first five seasons with Seattle, Pittsburgh and Denver. And it will be necessary Sunday night against Tampa Bay, which allows 91.2 rushing yards per game, third fewest in the league.

"I would imagine we just keep attacking, right?" Vannett said. "I think AK (running back Alvin Kamara) coming back (after missing four games with injuries) really opened up a lot of things for us. I don't think we realized how much we missed him, doing what he did (against the Jets) with our team running for over 200 yards.

"Whenever you run for that many yards on the ground, it opens up everything else in the passing game, and really the entire offense. So, that's really the key to success on gameday, finding out if you can run the ball. If we can do that against this (Tampa Bay) defense, I mean, everything else will take care of itself.

"I would imagine we are still going to be aggressive and that is just our identity. So, we are going to stick to that. It's going to be a battle, so, you know, the more physical team is going to win."

Vannett figures to have a hand – and all of his fingers – in it.

WELCOME BACK: Two significant figures returned to practice for the Saints on Thursday: Coach Sean Payton, who missed practice Wednesday due to illness, and defensive end Cameron Jordan, who missed the first game of his career on Sunday, when he was on the Reserve/Covid-19 list. Jordan played 172 consecutive games, with 171 starts, before sitting out the 30-9 victory over the Jets.

Related Content