METAIRIE, La. -- To help fill the void left by injured Brandin Cooks, the New Orleans Saints took a flier on another rookie receiver Wednesday by signing Jalen Saunders off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad, according to ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.
Saunders is already on his fourth team since being drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets this year. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder from Oklahoma began the year as the Jets’ punt returner. But he was released after he muffed two punt returns. He then spent time on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad before landing in Seattle.
It’s unclear if the Saints envision Saunders as an immediate punt-return candidate -- a job that became vacant when Cooks was placed on injured reserve with a broken thumb. Chances are even slimmer that they would use Saunders on offense right away.
Coming out of college, Saunders was expected to be a poor man’s version of Cooks -- a speedy and elusive slot receiver/punt returner. But ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini reported that sources said he wasn’t as explosive as draft reports indicated. Maybe another change of scenery will serve him well.
Saunders, who transferred to Oklahoma from Fresno State, caught a total of 123 passes for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns during his two seasons with the Sooners. He returned a total of 25 punts for 396 yards and three touchdowns.
To make room on the roster, the Saints released running back Brian Leonard -- a good sign that they must be expecting either Pierre Thomas and/or Khiry Robinson back from lingering injuries this week.
Thomas also tweeted out a picture and message to his fans Wednesday insisting he’s working his way back from shoulder and rib injuries.
The Saints’ first practice (and injury report) is Thursday this week since they’re not playing until Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens.