Friday, December 9, 2016, 6:41pm
Saints TE Josh Hill (fibula) was removed from the injury report Friday. Coby Fleener is a worthwhile start. He has averaged 68 yards receiving and 0.4 TD in the five games where he has seen at least six targets, and that seems like a good possibility if he’s playing starter’s snaps with Hill sidelined.
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 6:27pm
Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 6:58pm
Hill also has a level of sprain to the right ankle, according to the source.
Coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that he’d like to see more consistency from his tight end, Coby Fleener. But no one is ringing an alarm or throwing their hands up at this early juncture.
“Listen, I’ve had more time with guys like Brandin Cooks, Willie (Snead), Brandon Coleman, even Michael Thomas at this point because Coby was banged up a little in the offseason,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “The more time that we get together, the more the confidence builds, the more you find everyone’s role in all of this. I’m confident as we progress here that he’s going to be an even bigger part of the offense.”
It hasn't been a good start for Fleener, but the story notes that Ben Watson only had five catches for 31 yards at this point last season (on nine targets) and he finished with 74 catches for 825 yards. If possible, Fleener should be benched until he starts to produce, but it's too early to send him packing.
"I think there's been moments and yet it hasn't been as consistent as we'd like yet," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Fleener's play during a media teleconference Monday."
Fleener was targeted eight times in Week 2. He caught two of those, had his hands on two more and slipped on another route. QB Drew Brees took some blame on another pass that was overthrown, but overall it's been a disappointing start for Fleener and his fantasy owners. Payton also added Fleener is still a "work in progress," which at least indicates the team expects things to get better.
Friday, September 16, 2016, 6:38pm
Saints TE Josh Hill (ankle, out) missed practice all week and is out for Week 2. Coby Fleener should be a full-time player in Week 2 and has a great matchup against the Giants, who gave up a ton of catches to Jason Witten in Week 1.
Words and tone from Drew Brees and Sean Payton have told a lot about the Saints' newest tight end. My translation: The Saints yearn for more from Coby Fleener. The former Colts tight end hasn't been reliable enough lately on catching passes. He also isn't on the same page with Brees on some routes. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I feel like I've seen Josh Hill more involved in the passing game the last couple of practices. Maybe the weird drop to third team in a Saints "unofficial" depth chart really was a message.
This report came a few days after Sean Payton said that Fleener is still a "work in progress." Brees has spoken very favorably of Fleener this offseason, but the latest buzz isn't terribly encouraging. Fleener has a ton of upside in this offense but he's suddenly looking a bit risky. We're still buying, but we've moved him behind Delanie Walker and Travis Kelce, who are more established in their respective offenses.
It's easy to see the things Coby Fleener does well on a football field.
The 6-foot-6 tight end can get open, catch the ball and run downfield, and in a New Orleans Saints offense in which quarterback Drew Brees likes to throw to tight ends, Fleener should have plenty of chances to showcase those skills.
However, some of the finer points of the position could limit Fleener's opportunities as he adjusts to a new offense.
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"I'd say it's an ongoing progression," coach Sean Payton said Monday of Fleener's adjustment process. "I think, man, there's some plays that are real good, and then there's some plays where we've got to be a little bit more detailed and that's something that I know he's got to work on."
As the story pointed out, he's clearly the top tight end for the passing game, both from his performance this summer and his five-year, $36 million contract. Josh Hill bobbling a pass from Brees that resulted in an interception by rookie cornerback De'Vante Harris only provided another reason to think Fleener will be the main target in the tight end group. However HC Sean Payton said there's a lot more to being a TE than catching passes and Fleener still has some work to do.
The Saints website pushed Fleener back to the top of the depth chart Tuesday afternoon after NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune and Pro Football Talk wrote a story about the bizarre drop in the depth chart earlier in the day.
The team sent out a press release Monday listing Fleener as the third tight end on the depth chart leading up to its preseason game against the Texans in Houston. The team website actually listed Fleener as fourth on the depth chart as of Tuesday afternoon. Fleener was listed atop the depth chart leading up to last week's preseason opener against the Patriots. The move seemed strange considering Fleener has been the primary passing option at tight end for Drew Brees throughout training camp. It appears it was just a mistake, or maybe a way to see if the media, and fantasy owners, are paying attention.
As the story said, this is curious to say the least. Obviously these depth charts this time of year don't mean a whole lot. The team could be trying to send a message or simply reward Hill for good play. It wasn't all that long ago (2014) the very same Saints caused a lot of stink by putting Pierre Thomas as the team's RB3 behind Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.
It's safe to say New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener is still trying to learn the nuances of playing with Drew Brees after playing with the same quarterback for his entire college and NFL career in Andrew Luck.
Brees is still learning Fleener's game, of course. Yet Fleener seems well aware of who's the boss and it's more about learning Brees than vice versa.
"There's absolutely some catching up to do on my part," Fleener said after Day 4 of training camp practices Sunday at The Greenbrier. "Drew can write the playbook if he wanted to. He's just that well versed in what we're doing.
The last two days displayed how quickly the two are coming along the story said. It added Brees connected with Fleener on a few intermediate routes in team drills, and also a one-armed grab with a ball thrown behind him in team drills. On Sunday, Brees hit Fleener perfectly on a deep seam route for a long touchdown connection.
Nick Underhill on WR Brandin Cooks:
I would set the floor at 1,200 yards. I think he could even flirt with 1,500 if he has a couple big games. I think that having other weapons like Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener should help open things up for him. Fleener is a guy that can draw safety help, and Cooks was almost unguardable last season against single-high coverage. If that remains true, Cooks should be freed up for a few more shot plays.
“We watched a lot of film on him last year, just because we played the AFC South,” Brees told reporters. “It felt like every time we turned on the film to watch an opponent that we were about to play, I’m watching Colts film or Fleener film. It was like, ‘Man, this guy has an uncanny ability to separate.’ He is always open. There’s always a place to throw the ball where he can get it. It gets you excited about a guy who has that type of range and that type of feel. Time on task with a guy like that, the more time we have in this offense where he can understand the nuances and understand what I am thinking, and where I want him to be, and when I want him to be there, and when and where the ball is going to be thrown — that’s when you really start cooking. That’s when you feel like a guy is uncoverable. I don’t care who is on him. He’s 6-5 or 6-6, there is a place where I can throw the ball where he can get it or nobody can.”
In the 22 games that Fleener has played over the last three seasons with Dwayne Allen sidelined, he has averaged 4.1 catches for 54 yards and 0.45 TD. Those averages would have been good enough to finish 7th in standard scoring and 6th in PPR in 2015. When only looking at seven such games in the last two seasons, Fleener has averaged 5.4 catches for 82 yards and 0.86 TD. He landed in a great spot (New Orleans), where he’ll be asked to replace Ben Watson, who was 7th in tight end targets last year. It doesn't hurt that Fleener hasn't missed a game in the last three years, either.
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