Entering his third training camp in the NFL, Meachem is expected to "finally" deliver on the promise that had some pegging him the best athlete at wideout in the '07 class. If nothing else, he's got Drew Brees praising him.
"I feel like he can do some very big things. We formation people to death. In other words, we throw a lot of formations at a lot of different personnel groups and Meachem is involved in a lot of those things. He's somewhat of our big play guy, but then again, I feel that he's starting to move towards more of an every-down guy. He can do whatever we ask him to do, whether it be blocking in the run game or running the intermediate routes, the short routes and the deep routes. He's getting to the point where he's a complete receiver."A lingering injury in training camp and the inability to pick up the offense mentally led to Meachem's washed-out rookie year. Last year, he showed serious big play ability early, netting 235 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions (29.4 ypc average) in Weeks 2 through 5 with Marques Colston injured.
Given Brees' apparent lack of trust in Meachem in the past, it's intriguing that the quarterback not only praised Meachem on the first day of camp, but did so lavishly. Brees leads through positivity and optimism, so it's not shocking to see him lifting up a teammate so early (perhaps in an attempt to get Meachem into a good frame of mind early in an important camp in the receiver's career). But Brees went above and beyond the standard rah-rah newspaper quote this time. And his history of predicting big things for his receivers is pretty good.
Prior to 2006, Brees touted then-unheard-of rookie Marques Colston. Prior to last year, he saw big things in Lance Moore. We know how both of those prognostications turned out.
How will this one turn out? I don't see Moore repeating his 2008, and Devery Henderson took on a larger role last year primarily based on necessity. There are targets out there -- more than a few of them -- for Meachem to take if he really is turning into a complete receiver.
Then again, he's got some competition besides those guys in Adrian Arrington, who looked absolutely stellar as a rookie in camp last year before an injury erased his rookie year. Arrington came into the league a seventh-rounder, without the fanfare of Meachem, but he proved on the field last summer that he could play.
Meachem continues to struggle in his ongoing quest to prove the same. Maybe he's finally got a compelling enough case.