New Orleans Saints wide receiver Nick Toon (88) pulls in a pass over Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Vince Agnew (34) during the first half of the preseason game between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs at the Superdome on Friday, August 9, 2013. (Brett Duke, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)
New Orleans Saints receiver Nick Toon has drawn a lot of comparisons lately to teammate Marques Colston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Vincent Jackson.
Toon would be OK with either.
“Obviously Marques is a guy that I will naturally be compared to because we are similar body types (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) and we play the same position here,” Toon said. “It’s hard for me to compare myself to other players. I see myself on film, but I am really just trying to build my own brand, become my own player and take positive things from the guys that have had success in this league.
“Two examples, Vincent and Marques, both have had a lot of success and are phenomenal players.”
But it was a third comparison that made Toon smile.
His father, Al Toon, was a former track star and receiver for the New York Jets from 1985-92. He was a three-time All-Pro and the 1986 AFC Player of the Year.
“I think I am probably most like him if we are comparing in those three guys,” said Toon, who like his father starred collegiately at Wisconsin. “I have his blood running through my veins. He was a track guy and I hope I am better. Time will tell.”
Toon said he hasn’t gotten too much credit for his speed yet. But after he hauled in a 56-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees against the Oakland Raiders last Friday, perhaps that won’t be the case anymore.
“I do have above average speed for a guy my size and it’s definitely something I can bring to the table and become a well-rounded, multi-threat receiver, not just a possession guy,” he said.
Toon injured his foot early in training camp during his rookie season and was put on injured reserve in September. He never saw the field.
It’s looking likely, if inevitable, that he’ll play a key role this season. The Saints cut veterans Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton fairly quickly after signing them. Despite the loss of deep threat Joe Morgan for the season with a knee injury, it doesn’t look like the Saints will make any outside moves to replace him.
If anything, it shows the vote of confidence the team has in Toon and rookie Kenny Stills.
“You see it on the practice field day in and day out, but once it translates over to a game, that’s big time,” said receiver Marques Colston. “We are definitely looking forward to seeing what those guys can bring to the offense.”
With his injury, Toon had limited opportunities in the preseason last year, catching only two passes. This season, he has five receptions for 122 yards, leading all Saints receivers.
More important, Toon said, he’s starting to establish chemistry with Brees.
“Yes, for any quarterback and receiver, the more time you spend together, the better chemistry you are going to have,” Toon said. “That is something that just comes with time, trust and repetition. The more opportunity and time I get with Drew for myself and Kenny Stills and all the young guys here is helpful and definitely carries over into the game.”
If Toon puts on another show like last week, the comparisons to his dad will likely keep coming. And that’s fine by him.
“My dad was a little bit of a different player than I am,” he said. “My dad was a track guy and was kind of one of the first big receivers, one of the first of his kind in his era.
“He was fast, but I think last week it was great for me to get past the defense and catch a deep ball because my speed has been something that has been overlooked throughout my career.”