Joe Morgan and Josh Morgan are technically competing for the same job.
Both play wide receiver, and there’s a good chance one of them will end up on the New Orleans Saints. But whoever wins -- if both of them don’t earn a roster spot -- won’t make it because he’s better at doing the same things as the other guy.
Yes, they both run routes and catch passes. The difference is in their specialties. Joe Morgan runs deep routes and beats guys with speed. Josh Morgan doesn’t possess blazing speed and wins by being tactician over the middle.
Josh Morgan can’t do a lot of things Joe Morgan does. Joe Morgan can’t do a lot of things Josh Morgan does. If they both worked on computers, one would be graphic designer while the other worked on coding websites. Similar fields, different roles.
“Their qualities are different in that aspect,” quarterback Luke McCown said. “So it’s hard to sit and say this guy has a leg up on that guy. I think they can both add tremendous value to our team and wide receiver corps.”
It’s come to a point, though, where it seems the two receivers will be battling for the last bit of the apple. If the team only carries five wide receivers, it seems like that the top three spots will go to Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Brandon Coleman. The fifth receiver, which the Saints typically make inactive on game day, has historically been more of a developmental player.
Neither Morgan fits that profile. So, that would mean both are battling it out for the fourth spot. However, Sean Payton has hinted that the team could carry six players at the position, which could open up a path for both Morgans to make the team.
Neither player is willing to bank on that possibility. Instead, they approach each practice and meeting with the urgency of someone fighting for their NFL life.
Both have been targeted 22 times in team drills during training camp. Josh Morgan has pulled in 16 passes. Joe Morgan has had 13 receptions. However, given that Joe Morgan runs deeper routes that come with a higher degree of difficulty, the difference in receptions might not mean much.
Ironically, through two preseason games, it’s Josh Morgan who has made more big plays. He pulled in a 31-yard reception against the Patriots, which lifted him to 74 yards on three receptions, but he failed to protect the ball and fumbled it away. Joe Morgan has five receptions for 30 yards. His longest catch is for 7 yards.
Josh Morgan left that contest knowing he left something on the table and was disappointed he sacrificed an opportunity to separate from the pack.
“I had it too low and I was trying to set up another move to beat the two guys I seen in front of me,” Josh Morgan said. “But it’s always the guy behind you that gets the strip. Just getting it higher and holding it tight.”
Joe Morgan also let one moment get away. He was wide open on a slant and let the ball hit the turf. A moment for a big play slipped away.
“That’s always been one of my problems,” Morgan said. “I saw an opportunity for a huge play. … I took my eyes off the ball and tried to look downfield a little bit.”
It’s unlikely that one moment will sink either player. But in a battle this tight, any negative moment on tape could be a blow to their chances. And the Morgans don’t have to just worry about each other. Players like Nick Toon, who is battling an ankle injury, Seantavius Jones and Willie Snead are also still very much in the mix at that position.
So each day, the receivers go into practice or a game knowing that they have to put their best performance on tape. If they don’t, someone else will, and their odds of making the team will become that much slimmer. But even though things are extremely competitive, it’s not a bad environment to live in.
“All year round guys are going to be competing. It’s a highly competitive,” Josh Morgan said. “There’s a lot of talented guys and it’s a very smart group. It’s highly competitive and it’s a lot of fun. Competition does nothing but bring the best out of you.”