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The undrafted and overlooked help lead Saints to victory

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Juwan Johnson (83) stretches before practice during NFL...
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Juwan Johnson (83) stretches before practice during NFL football training camp in Metairie, La,. Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle) New Orleans Saints Pool Photo/Derick Hingle(Derick Hingle | AP)
Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Saints handed the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers a resounding 38-3 loss. And they didn’t have Drew Brees leading the way. Instead, it was behind a quarterback that’s been given a second NFL life. Jameis Winston, cast out from Tampa, re-appeared in his first start in a major way.

He’s a testament to what never giving up on yourself, even if others do, looks like.

Those same traits are found in a few places on this roster as well, but especially among the undrafted names that may soon be household names for Saints fans.

Take tight end Juwan Johnson for example, who came through with two touchdowns against Green Bay. He may not be who we expected to have a big game, but he says the performance doesn’t come as much of a surprise to him as it does everyone else because it’s simply the result of his time on task with Jameis.

“This is stuff that worked on pretty much all summer,” says Johnson. “Going to Tampa at his crib and having those times where we’ve got to get this down. All the time in that heat where it was 105 on the turf. This is stuff that we worked on all summer, and it’s showing up in the season.”

Johnson says his success is a result of the confidence that Sean Payton shows in him as well. The trust built up in training camp leads to the trust to execute a huge fourth and long in the second quarter.

“I felt like this has been a zone team on film,” says Payton. “We saw a little adjustment they made with the formation. We gave them the same formation from a year ago off a Ram film. It’s kind of out there. We got a similar look, and it just kind of left a really good opportunity to throw a screen over to Juwan.”

“We knew that play was going to happen from the moment he put it in the game plan,” says Johnson. “I was like, ‘All right. Let’s see what we can do now.’”

Joining Juwan Johnson on the list of formerly undrafted players to find the end zone in week one were wide receivers Deonte Harris and Chris Hogan, who came off the lacrosse field to join the Saints. And don’t forget about Tony Jones Jr., who averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The world may not know everyone’s names yet, but if the Saints keep playing like this, they will soon.

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