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New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) leaps to receive a touchdown pass in the end zone against Carolina Panthers cornerback Corn Elder (35) during the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018.

Sean Payton is looking for some more consistency out of Tre’Quan Smith.

While answering a question about wide receiver Keith Kirkwood, and all of his positive traits, the coach ended it by pointing out that Smith, a third-round pick, has endured some ups and downs.

“Tre’Quan has some of those same traits, but I feel like his production has dropped a little bit and it’s going to be important we get him going,” Payton said.

Smith has had some positive moments this season, most notably when he caught three passes for 111 yards against the Washington Redskins and 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles for 157 yards. In both games, Smith was able to take advantage of the coverage given to other players.

But even though he was the second receiver on the roster for most of the season, Smith finished the year with 28 catches of 44 targets for 427 yards with five touchdowns. New Orleans now has Ted Ginn Jr. back in the lineup, and with the emergence of Kirkwood, there is less pressure on Smith to play a significant load.

But Payton made it clear that Smith needs to play better when he’s on the field or it could create weakness within the offense.

“You just have to have consistency at the other spots or they can force you to throw it to where you’re inconsistent,” Payton said.

Smith feels like he’s done some good things this season, but there is still a lot for him to learn. He said that he needs to garner a better understanding of the offense and his role within in.

“It’s a lot that I can work on. I just got to understand the game more,” Smith said. “I know my plays, which allows me to play faster, but once I understand the game fully and see how guys are playing and see what’s my real job and understand why I’m running a route instead of just running a route, that’s what I probably what I need to work on more.”

Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​