METAIRIE, La. – Willie Snead said he is “definitely” ready to go Sunday.
More than ready.
The New Orleans Saints receiver’s 2017 debut has been delayed by a three-game suspension for a DWI arrest, then a hamstring injury that lingered into Week 4, then the Week 5 bye.
So Snead knows he has a lot of making up to do -- including proving he is still worthy of a major role in the Saints’ offense.
“Right now, they’re throwing me back in there slowly. And I think once this week goes by and I’m able to handle what they’re giving me, I think my role will grow more and more every week,” said Snead, who was listed as limited in practice, though coach Sean Payton referred to him as “recovered” from the hamstring issue.
“So it’s something that I have to show them I can do, and I can keep doing it again and again,” continued Snead, who will have to compete with veteran receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon Coleman for snaps and targets behind No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas.
“I think once the weeks go by, I’ll be back to where I was before. ... I just think I’ve got to work a little bit harder. I’ve got to prove my worth, and once those opportunities come I have to take advantage. I feel like I do have something to prove right now to not only myself but to my teammates, the coaches, the Who-Dat fans, that I’ve been in a bad place but right now I’m past that. I’m ready to move on and help this team.”
Snead was arrested in June after his vehicle struck another vehicle and a breath test yielded a blood-alcohol content of 0.125. He was accepted into a diversion program, which can allow him to avoid charges, but he was punished under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“I dealt with it and I’m just trying to look forward to the future, learn from my mistakes,” Snead said. “It’s been a learning experience. This is something I’ve never been through. So I’m just trying to take it day by day, keeping my family close, keeping my faith strong. ... So far it’s been an easy transition from that incident to here. ...
“A lot of guys were looking out for me and just telling me to keep my head up. They were very supportive. They understand the situation -- everybody makes mistakes. It could have happened to anybody. They’re just glad I’m OK and want me to get past this experience.”
As for the hamstring injury, Snead said that also was a frustrating experience, since he was so eager to get back on the field when eligible in Week 4. He said he was injured during the third preseason game.
Snead was able to practice on a limited basis when he returned from suspension, but the Saints decided to wait the extra two weeks until he was closer to full health.
“I’m going to be totally excited,” Snead said of his overdue debut Sunday. “My [25th] birthday is two days after that, so it’s going to be kind of like a homecoming for me. Family’s going to be out there. Playing in the [Superdome] after a big win on the road is going to be something great. So I’m ready to go. I will be ready for sure. My mind’s going to be right, and I’m definitely going to bring the energy.”