Part of it is our fault, in the media, because we love writing about the “hot new thing.” Part of it is New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton’s fault, because he keeps praising the two second-year undrafted receivers as unknown guys who could play significant roles.
But mostly, the blame goes to Jones and Coleman themselves, because they keep flashing on the practice field.
For the second straight week on Thursday, they provided some of the biggest highlights during the Saints’ organized team activities (OTAs).
Jones (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) made the best individual catch of the day when he went up high over tight coverage by cornerback Kyle Wilson to snag a pass out of the air from quarterback Drew Brees during full-team drills.
Coleman, meanwhile, had at least three nice catches in team drills. The super-sized, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder caught two balls from Brees -- one when he broke wide open in the middle of the field and one when he was being guarded closely by Keenan Lewis. Then he caught a long pass from rookie QB Garrett Grayson, who essentially threw it up for grabs and let the big target snatch it easily over Wilson.
“Anytime you can throw to him, that’s definitely a positive,” Grayson said. “That gives you a big area to throw to -- a lot of room for error that he can make you look good.”
However, as I wrote last week when Jones and Coleman also stood out during practice, they’re still in a crowded battle for roster spots, with Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Nick Toon all ahead of them in the current pecking order.
Coleman got a lot of playing time with the first-string offense Thursday while Colston was watching from the sideline for an undisclosed reason. But the Saints have done so much rotating with their receivers at this stage of camp that it's almost impossible to identify a specific order to it.
“I have to keep showing it every day to keep them believing in me, because I believe in myself,” said Coleman, who said he’s benefitting from that boost of confidence and comfort level that most second-year pros experience.
“I just go out there not thinking as much and just play the game I’ve been playing all my life. My mentality is to just go out there and make plays,” Coleman said.
At some point, Coleman and Jones will have to separate themselves from one another, too.
Another thing the media and Payton have been guilty of is always mentioning the two receivers together, as if they come as a package deal. And that’s natural since they’re both big receivers who came in together under the same circumstances, and they’re neck and neck on the depth chart. They’ve also become close friends over the past year.
In truth, though, they might wind up battling for one active spot on game days, since the Saints typically only use four receivers in games, not counting special-teams roles.
Jones laughed when I asked him if they’ve noticed that they’re always mentioned together in tandem.
“Yeah. We’ve never actually talked about it, but I’m pretty sure both of us noticed. It’s always in there,” said Jones, who said he’s perfectly fine with that.
“That’s my guy, so we compete for everything we do. But it’s no problem seeing both of our names in there. Both of us [are] getting noticed, and we liked that.”