Steve: Tough Task for Tanner with Saints
"I've always prided myself on catching everything. Ever since I was in high school I told myself, if it's going to touch your hands... you better catch it."
And that's exactly what Andy Tanner has done. The Saints wide receiver has managed to haul in 8 passes for 120 yards this preseason and seemed to make a big play or two at every training camp practice. Could he REALLY be this team's 4th wide receiver?
Tanner's college career shows that he is capable of success. As a receiver for Midwestern State he played his way into the school's record book in several categories playing 2006-2009. Among his school records are his 75 catches and 1,186 yards in a season, and his 20 career touchdowns. Tanner's 120 career receptions rank third in school history. His best game with the Mustangs came in the 2009 season, when he caught an 80-yard pass along with scoring three touchdowns.
Tanner then became part of the Saints system in 2010 as an undrafted free agent. He spent part of that year on the practice squad and would do the same in 2011, while also working with the scout team and seeing action in the preseason. What is he looking to accomplish this year?
"My mindset is just making the plays whenever given the chance, special teams or receiver, and get on the roster," Tanner said.
We already know the top three receiver positions are locked up by Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson. With the departure of Robert Meachem via free agency, there are a number of players vying for that vacant 4th WR spot. Special teams captain Courtney Roby seems to have the 5th receiver position locked up, and its highly unlikely the Saints would carry a 6th on the roster.
Tanner is familiar with the offense, he's been running crisp routes and more importantly he is catching the ball. How about the whole trust factor with the quarterback? Well this is what the $100 million dollar man had to say about him:
"Tanner's another one of those guys, that with any opportunity, he shows up everywhere," quarterback Drew Brees said. "He shows up on the practice field, he shows up on game day. Whenever he's in there, it seems that he's making plays. And there's not a guy that works harder. If you want to throw routes after practice you just say, 'Hey Tanner, will you come over and run some routes for me?' and he's going to be running routes for you. He's just one of those guys who's going to be there for you. He's a smart player, he never fools you, and he's always doing the right thing. He's always where you need him, when you need him there, so he's dependable."
Those are some very strong words from the leader of this team, but that was before Tanner got hurt. He was carted to the locker room after suffering a left ankle injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Assistant coach Joe Vitt has acknowledged that Tanner might not play again this preseason. Will not being on the field the last two weeks hurt his chance of making the final 53-man roster?
"It certainly could," Vitt said. "When you get down to the final 53, we've had to make tough decisions around here. That stuff has always worked itself out, and there's options that you can go to and are available to players, whether it's the practice squad or the 53. Those things have always worked themselves out. We're going to go through this process for another week and a half. We have the Texans Saturday night, then the Titans Thursday. We're going to go through this process and see who can most help us."
In other words, Tanner looks to be practice squad bound again this season. He already had the odds stacked against him due to his size and strength... combined with the fact that he is pretty much the same type of receiver as Lance Moore. Add to all that his injury, and I would say it's a long shot for Andy Tanner to make this year's 53-man Saints roster.