Now that the New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl, take a look back at the wide receivers who helped lay the foundation for the Saints. Find out who the franchise’s best receivers were long before Who Dat Nation caught fire.
5. Quinn Early
Acquired as a Plan B free agent from the San Diego Chargers, Quinn Early quickly became a starter for the New Orleans Saints in 1991. Although Eric Martin continued to be the favorite target of QB Bobby Hebert, Early’s 32 receptions were a career high up to that point and they helped lead the Saints to their first division title. In 1992, Early started every game and finished with a career best 5 touchdowns. Early’s statistics continued to improve in 1993, but it wasn’t until 1994 that he had his first breakout season. That year, Early caught 81 passes and in 1995, he brought in 82 passes. ’95 was also the first and only time Early eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in reception yardage. Quinn Early played four more seasons with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. He finished with 270 career catches and 25 touchdowns in New Orleans.
4. Danny Abramowicz
Drafted in the 17th round of the 1967 draft, Danny Abramowicz stood little chance of making the New Orleans Saints final roster. After seeing little action in the preseason, head coach Tom Fears informed Abramowicz that he was being cut. Abramowicz told Fears he was not leaving because he had not been given a fair chance. Over the next five seasons, Abramowicz would prove to be one of the few stars for the Saints franchise. In 1969, Abramowicz set career highs in receptions (73), yards (1,015) and touchdowns (7). For his efforts, Abramowicz was named a first team All-Pro. After his statistics declined over the next two years, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers two games into the ’72 season. In his career with the Saints, Abramowicz brought in 309 passes and caught 37 touchdowns.
3. Marques Colston
The rise to stardom of Marques Colston is perhaps even more improbable than that of Abramowicz. Colston was drafted in the 7th round in 2006 and had a great training camp. It certainly didn’t hurt that Colston was playing for first year head coach Sean Payton, who had an open mind about everyone on the roster. Colston was so impressive that the Saints traded star WR Donte Stallworth prior to the start of the season. From there, Colston caught 70 passes and helped lead the Saints to the NFC Championship game. The following season, Colston was even more impressive, bringing in 98 catches. After an injury-plagued 2008 campaign, Colston returned to form by catching 70 passes in 2009, helping the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV. After just 57 career games, Colston is already fourth in Saints’ history with 285 catches and 33 receiving touchdowns.
2. Eric Martin
Coming out of LSU, it did not take long for Eric Martin to become a fan favorite in New Orleans. Like Colston, Martin was drafted in the 7th Round. Although criticized by some scouts for not having blazing speed, Martin was a large target with great hands. After arriving in New Orleans, Martin quickly became the favorite target of QB Bobby Hebert. Aided by one of the best defenses in NFL history, Martin and the rest of the Saints would experience success for the first time in franchise history. After three mediocre seasons, Martin had his career best campaign in 1988 when he caught 85 passes and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Over the next five seasons, Martin was remarkably consistent catching between 63 and 68 passes each year. Although his team rankings may someday be threatened by Colston, Eric Martin is the current franchise leader with 532 receptions and is second with 48 touchdown catches.
1. Joe Horn
Joe Horn continued the tradition of other great Saints wide receivers who rose out of obscurity. Hailing from tiny Itawamba Community College in Mississippi, Joe Horn arrived in Kansas City and made little impact in four seasons with the Chiefs. In 2000, The Saints signed Horn to a free agent contract and ended up capturing the division crown and winning the first playoff game in franchise history. That year, Horn had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in Saints’ history catching 94 passes for 1,340 yards. Although that would prove to be the Saints’ only trip to the postseason during his tenure, Horn continued to accumulate outstanding numbers in New Orleans over the next six years. Horn’s most memorable moment came in 2003 when he produced a cell phone from under the goal post in a game on ESPN. Playing in 41 fewer games than Eric Martin, Joe Horn currently ranks second in team history with 523 catches and first with 50 touchdowns. Joe Horn also earned four trips to the Pro Bowl.
All statistics found at http://www.nfl.com/players/search?playerType=historical
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