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New Orleans Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith (81) hauls in a long pass against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Taurean Nixon (31) during the first half of a preseason game Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

A breakthrough happened for Cameron Meredith in the final preseason game. 

A prize free-agent signing for the Saints, Meredith torched a Rams cornerback for one long catch and scored on another, looking like he was ready for the season opener.

Then Meredith was inactive for Sunday's season opener against Tampa Bay. Meredith's knee is now fully healthy coming off of the torn ACL that cost him last season in Chicago, but he still needs more time on task with Drew Brees to take his place in the offense. 

"More than anything else, it had to do with just the reps he was behind coming off of training camp," Payton said. "From a health standpoint, he's doing good. It's just getting him up to speed."

Meredith is expected to play primarily out of the slot, a role Austin Carr occupied on Sunday, and the Saints were happy with the way Carr played against Tampa Bay. 

New Orleans will take a close look at Meredith again this week to see if he can take the final step. Meredith spent as much time as possible working with Brees after practice during training camp, but it's another thing to do it with the other nine players on the field. 

"From a timing element, getting him the reps he needs to be able to function and go in and play consistently," Payton said. 

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.