Catch Onto These Wide Receivers

Heading into every season, a group of players are presented that have potential, but have never reached the lofty opinion that has been placed upon them. Training camp 2003 will be no different as The Insiders take a look at some players that may be in position to make a statement in the league this upcoming season.

Wide Receivers

Donte' Stallworth of the New Orleans Saints Speed, speed, and more speed is what you get with Stallworth. When Stallworth was on the field during the 2002 season, the Saints had one of the quickest receivers in the game, which makes him a threat on any given play. Showed an uncanny ability in the 2002 season to outjump the defense for the ball and taking a short pass the distance for a score.

Like many inexperienced players, Stallworth struggled with inconsistency last season and being a rookie receiver limited the looks that he received. Coming off a season where he was sidelined with hamstring issues, Stallworth is proclaimed healthy and wanting to become a large part of the New Orleans offense.
New Orleans favors controlling the ball with running back Deuce McAllister and opening up the offense with #1 wide receiver Joe Horn. With Stallworth solidly positioned as the #2 receiver, he will garner numerous passes thrown his way as opposing defenses will double-team Horn, or until Stallworth's ability elevates him to the status of a #1 receiver.
The New Orleans offense is solid, quarterback Aaron Brooks likes to throw the ball and lives for the big-play. With the speedster Stallworth lining up against the #2 cornerback, the opportunities for that big-play will be present. 
Ashley Lelie of the Denver Broncos: Age is beginning to catch up with an outstanding receiver corps in Denver. Injuries have taken their toll on Rod Smith and Ed McCaffery and head coach Mike Shanahan is looking towards Lelie to assume a larger role in the Denver offense.


Thus far in the off-season, Lelie and new Denver quarterback Jake Plummer have a camaraderie that should only provide Lelie with additional looks in the Broncos offense. Blessed with tremendous speed, Lelie has the ability to outrun most defensive backs in the league. His slight build is an area of concern, as to whether he can stand up to the physical pounding of a receiver in the NFL, play in and play out. In the 2002 season Lelie answered many questions about his toughness as he went head to head against many of the top defensive backs in the league as he filled in for Smith and McCaffrey


Utilizing his speed, Lelie was on the receptive end of many big-plays for the Broncos in 2002. With a year of experience, commanding respect around the league as a receiver, he his physical ability, the opportunity will be presented for him to breakout this season for the pass-oriented Denver Broncos.

Tai Streets of the San Francisco 49ers:  Clearly, the San Francisco 49ers will throw the football more in 2003 and that will only benefit Streets. Lining up as a #2 receiver opposite, Streets will have an increased role in the 2003 season, as Owens is often double-teamed. With the expectations in San Francisco of opening up the offense and throwing the ball downfield more, Streets should easily surpass the 70 receptions he had in 2002.
Streets runs routes of a possession receiver, but has better speed than a possession receiver possess. With an above average offensive line and an accurate quarterback in Jeff Garcia, Streets will have the opportunity to make big-plays downfield.

Antonio Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys:  The acquisition of wide receiver Terry Glenn in the off-season has led many people around the league to believe that Bryant will be relegated to the #3 wide receiver spot. From discussions with the Cowboys organization, the team intends on Bryant to be the #2 receiver behind Joey Galloway, and possibly being the go-to guy for their young, growing offense.


Bryant has good size and speed. He makes the difficult reception look easy and has shown a tendency to lack concentration and frustration when defended by a physical defensive back. As the season wore on, Bryant looked much more comfortable in the offensive scheme and worked well with quarterback Chad Hutchinson.


Heading into the 2003 season, indecision could affect just how good a player Bryant will be. He has the physical tools to be a #1 receiver, but questions about the Dallas offense and mainly the quarterback position must be answered. If Hutchinson takes charge and is the starting quarterback in Dallas, Bryant could have an explosive season due to their on-field relationship and familiarity of one another.


Javon Walker of the Green Bay Packers: Walker will open training camp in competition with Robert Ferguson for the #2 wide receiver position in the Green Bay offense. Working very hard in the off-season, according to the Packers front office, Walker will report to camp approximately 12-pounds heavier and much physically stronger than he was in 2002. Upon drafting Walker in the second round of the 2002 draft, the Packers envisioned him as being a player that could become productive in two-to-three seasons. Walker showed flashes of that promise late in the 2002 season.


While the 2002 season was a learning experience for Walker, he improved as the season progressed and had an extremely good game against the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. With Brett Favre returning for the 2003 season at quarterback for Green Bay, Walker has the opportunity to be on the receptive end of many passes as long as he is consistent. Consistency was an issue early in the 2002 season for Walker, but his off-season work in understanding the offense should propel him into a starting spot when the season opens.


Standing at 6'3" and tipping the scales at close to 230-pounds, Walker now has the strength to compliment his tall stature and better than average speed to combat defensive backs in the league. His decided height advantage over the opponent will be a factor, as Favre loves to challenge the defense and is known for throwing a high-ball. Walker is an imposing figure and talent, one that should benefit from the playmaking mastery of Favre.

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