By BRETT MARTEL
METAIRIE, La. — The Saints have lost receiver Joseph Morgan and defensive end Kenyon Coleman for the season because of injuries, depriving New Orleans of one of its top deep threats and a reliable veteran run-stopping lineman.
Morgan hurt his left knee in Saturday’s scrimmage, and coach Sean Payton said Wednesday his diagnosis has come back as a torn meniscus and partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament.
Payton said Coleman, who left practice Tuesday, tore a pectoral muscle, which also requires season-ending surgery.
Morgan is entering his third year as a pro and was expected to be a regular behind veterans Lance Moore and Marques Colston.
Morgan, an undrafted free agent out of NAIA Walsh University, now is expected to spend his second full season on injured reserve in his young and still budding career.
After a spectacular rookie preseason, he spent 2011 on injured reserve with a knee injury. In 2012, he emerged as one of the team’s top down-field targets, catching 10 passes for 379 yards and three TDs, a whopping 37.9 yards per reception. That performance was strong enough that the Saints allowed Devery Henderson to leave in free agency, making Morgan his heir apparent as the No. 3 receiver.
“You see how hard he has worked this offseason and you see how much he has improved and just how much he’s gaining that confidence,” Brees said. “His role was there. Then all of a sudden that’s taken away.”
Coleman was entering his 12th season after spending the past two with new Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Dallas, where he worked as a run-stopping end in Ryan’s 3-4 (three linemen, four linebackers) defensive scheme.
The 6-foot-5, 293-pound Coleman started 15 in 2011 but only five last season because of a torn triceps. The Saints hoped he would be a regular and provide important veteran leadership and experience as New Orleans switches its defensive alignment from the 4-3 scheme it has used for years.
“It stinks losing him,” said right tackle Zach Strief, who has had to block Coleman in practice. “Good player, good teammate, good guy, a lot of knowledge. He’s helped me a lot in this camp just understanding how 3-4 guys play. … Losing any guy hurts but that’s the nature of the beast but somebody’s got to step up and someone’s going to get an opportunity to be successful like he was.
The Saints still have depth at Coleman’s position, with Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks and Tom Johnson.
The Saints this week signed veteran journeyman receiver Steve Breaston, who’ll compete for playing time with a host of young, inexperienced receivers including Nick Toon, Kenny Stills, Andy Tanner and Jarred Fayson.
By BRETT MARTEL