Saints’ Joe Morgan getting career, life back on track _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan (13) practices at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility for Organized Team Activities of OTA in Metairie, La. Thursday, May 29, 2014.

In due time, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan hopes to have his life and career back on track. For now, it continues to be an ongoing process, both on the field and off.

On the field, Morgan said he is about “80 percent’’ back from undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee in August. Off the field, he is five-plus months from completing an adult diversion program in Jefferson Parish stemming from a DWI arrest a year ago.

On Thursday, he watched his teammates go through the team’s sixth organized team activity with an ice wrap on his surgically repaired knee. He hopes to be ready to go for the start of training camp on July 24.

“The hardest thing is being patient,’’ said Morgan, who showed flashes of big-play ability during the 2012 season. “You feel good one day but you have to realize you may not be 100 percent. You want to do more but you got to trust your rehab program and go with the punches.’’

Morgan said he hopes to have the DWI charge against him dismissed at the completion of his diversion program Oct. 23 and eventually expunged from his record after a five-year probationary period.

“What have I learned from all this?” he said. “The main thing is you can’t take things for granted. As athletes, we like to look at ourselves as invincible. It brings you back down to earth because we are not invincible. It really humbles you.’’

Man in the middle

In their never-ending quest to find the best 53 players, team officials added veteran defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) to the mix earlier this week. Deaderick signed a one-year, $730,000 contract and immediately jumped into the team’s offseason program.

“He’s a good scheme fit for us,’’ Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson said of the former Alabama standout and seventh-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2010. “We got him at nose tackle right now but he has played end (for New England and Jacksonville).

“I’m not worried about these new guys as much as I’m focusing on our veteran guys. We’ve got a saying going into training camp: ‘Get Off the Spot.’ We want those guys to go forward, to keep getting better — Junior (Galette), Cam (Jordan), Akiem (Hicks), Brodrick (Bunkley); all these guys who’ve been around here. It’s important that they don’t go the wrong way off that spot, too.’’

Conspicuously absent

Though the Saints must account for $7.035 million on their salary cap to unsigned free agent tight end Jimmy Graham because he has been tendered that amount as a franchise player, he remains unsigned and is not participating in the team’s offseason program.

He awaits his scheduled hearing with a league arbitrator June 16-17. Three tight ends are picking up the slack in his absence — veteran Ben Watson, second-year pro Josh Hill and rookie free agent Je’Ron Hamm of Louisiana-Monroe.

“Ben’s carrying a lot of the snaps because of the younger guys,’’ Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He had 38 team snaps (Thursday). He doesn’t need that many.’’


Veteran right tackle Zach Strief took a moment during team drills to work on the side with first-year tackle Ty Nsekhe on blocking techniques. ... Payton said veteran safety Jairus Byrd, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract in March, is on target to be ready for the start of training camp after recently undergoing an undisclosed procedure on his back to deal with a problematic disk. ... Veteran center Jonathan Goodwin is currently working with the second unit behind Tim Lelito after signing a one-year, $1.02 million contract that features a $955,000 base salary and $65,000 signing bonus. Goodwin, 35, returns to the Saints after starting the past three seasons for the San Francisco 49ers. ... As expected, Saints rookie receiver Brandin Cooks (first-round pick) was not present Thursday and is finishing up his junior year at Oregon State. Defensive tackle John Jenkins observed practice but did not work. ... As of Thursday, the Saints are a scant $1,718,621 under the salary cap, according to figures obtained from the NFL Players Association.