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NEW ORLEANS – Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston called the signal as soon as he saw NFL free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry visit the team’s facility last spring.
“I just told them (the Saints), we needed him,” Winston said Wednesday after the 1-0 Saints practiced in preparation for their home opener Sunday against 1-0 Tampa Bay (1 p.m. eastern, FOX) in the Superdome.
“I was surprised he was available,” Winston said. “When I saw him walking in the building, I’m like, ‘I can’t let him get away.'”
Landry, a second-round draft choice by Miami in 2014 out of LSU, put up impressive numbers in four seasons with the Dolphins and then in four more with Cleveland before coming to the Saints. He had 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2015 and ’16 with the Dolphins and in 2019 with the Browns.
Not a deep threat, Landy still has shown the uncanny ability to make critical, long distance plays. He did at LSU regularly as well.
“Big time players make big time plays in big time situations,” Winston said. “That’s Jarvis’ game. I love tossing him the rock. He’s an elite football player.”
That all showed in Winston’s and Landry’s first game together Sunday at Atlanta. Landry caught seven passes for 114 yards.
And he saved his best reception for last – an acrobatic, 40-yard catch on the left sideline with less than a minute remaining to put the Saints on the Falcons’ 40-yard line while trailing 26-24.
It was the key play in the game-winning field goal drive for the Saints’ 27-26 victory. Winston, who finished 23-of-34 passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns, hit tight end Juwan Johnson for 17 yards to the Atlanta 33-yard line after a 10-yard penalty for an illegal spike. Wil Lutz kicked the go-ahead, 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds left for the win.
“Really, that play is put in for those situations,” said Landry, who beat cornerback Casey Hayward on the play. “I’m a firm believer in you create one-on-ones with guys and make plays. In my career, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities for deep plays. But I have a pretty decent track record of making plays.”
Several of the reporters covering the Saints who surrounded Landry in the locker room Wednesday had also covered him at LSU from 2011-13 and at Lutcher High School near New Orleans. He was asked if the catch Sunday was as great as the leaping grab he made with one hand against Arkansas in 2013.
“Well, there were two I made in that Arkansas game,” Landry said laughing. “I don’t know. What do you think?”
A television reporter said the second great catch against Arkansas.
“Yeah, that one was pretty good,” Landry said.
First-year Saints coach Dennis Allen sees Landry adding to his highlight tape in the future next to star wide receiver Michael Thomas, who returned from an ankle injury that left him out of most of the 2020 season and all of 2021. He caught five passes for 57 yards Sunday with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Saints came back from a 26-10 deficit. There is also 2022 first-round pick Chris Olave, who caught three passes for 41 yards.
“We envisioned a player who was going to make some plays for us, and certainly that’s what Jarvis did in this past game,” Allen said. “He’s got the ability to get down the field vertically, to work underneath, to work intermediate. He’s got the ability to block on the edge. He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s competitive. He’s exactly what we were looking for.”
NOTES: Winston nursed a back injury suffered in the Atlanta game this week, but it appears to be minor. … Running back Alvin Kamara did not practice Thursday because of a rib injury suffered against Atlanta Sunday and is likely questionable for Tampa Bay Sunday. … Landry will be honored Friday night at his Lutcher High School alma mater – 40 miles from New Orleans. Landry’s No. 80 high school jersey will be retired in a ceremony before Lutcher plays Helen Cox High. … Former Saint running back great Deuce McAllister and Rouses grocery stores teamed up this week to deliver 38,000 bottles of water to Jackson, Mississippi, which has been ravaged by a drinking water crises due to the flooding of the area’s water treatment plant last month. McAllister is from Ludlow, Mississippi, 40 miles from Jackson, and he played at Ole Miss.