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Saints receiver Arrington knows the time is now

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METAIRIE, La. (AP)

Saints receiver Adrian Arrington has been on the bubble ever since New Orleans took him in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.

But with a spot opening in the receiving rotation after Robert Meachem signed with San Diego in free agency, Arrington knows now is the time for him to earn consistent playing time.

Four days into training camp, Arrington is showing he just might be the player to take Meachem's spot, making diving catches and coming up with receptions in tight coverage each day.

''I've obviously been in this system for so many years now,'' Arrington said. ''Everything is kind of clicking. Hopefully I can continue to keep it going. It's still early right now.''

And Arrington knows there's still time for something to go awry. In each of his first two seasons, great training camps were cut short because of injuries.

Yet, even when he wasn't injured the past two seasons, a deep receiving corps kept him sidelined. He has played in only five regular-season games, catching only nine passes for 110 yards. In two postseason games, he has two catches for 21 yards.

He has come into training camp lately fighting not just for playing time, but for a roster spot. So he's not about to relax because of a few good days.

''I feel the same pressure every year,'' Arrington said. ''I'm always in the same situation every single year. It's always the same to me.''

He's not alone, however, in fighting for the No. 4 spot in the rotation. The Saints drafted Nick Toon out of Wisconsin with their fourth-round pick this spring. And Joe Morgan, who impressed the coaching staff in last year's preseason, also returns in hopes of securing a roster spot.

Arrington's experience in the system is giving him an advantage thus far.

Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said the Arrington has done everything the team has asked of him, and now, while watching video of practices, it's evident that Arrington is familiar with the system.

''I've never known for the last couple of years for him to slow down because he learns as he goes,'' Carmichael said. ''He's a sharp guy. He can play a couple of different positions.''

Familiarity with the system also is bolstering Arrington's confidence.

''After so many years of doing this, everything is second (nature),'' Arrington said. ''I know it like the back of my hand. As long as I can go out here and stay healthy, I should be able to continue doing the things I've been doing so far.''

What he has been doing is making big catches in tight spots.

Like when he managed to catch a pass zipped by quarterback Drew Brees to a spot inches from safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Johnny Patrick. The play gained more than 10 yards.

Not that the catch surprised the always-confident Arrington.

''As long as I can come out here and stay healthy, I know the things I can do,'' he said.

NOTES: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (hand) and tight end David Thomas (strained lower back) both sat out practice Sunday. Acting head coach Joe Vitt said Hicks is expected to start conditioning on Tuesday. Vitt gave no timetable on Thomas' return. . Cornerback Patrick Robinson ''tweaked'' his shoulder, Vitt said, and was being evaluated by doctors. . The team said 4,144 fans watched practice Sunday.

Tagged: Saints, Adrian Arrington

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