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Drew Brees on TE Coby Fleener: 'He's always open'

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Coby Fleener was a favored target of quarterback Drew Brees during the New Orleans Saints minicamp this week and the quarterback expects his new tight end to get open often in 2016.

"We watched a lot of film on him last year, just because we played in the AFC South," Brees said of Fleener's time with the Indianapolis Colts, via The Times-Picayune. "It felt like every time we turned on the film to watch an opponent that we were about to play, I'm watching Colts film or Fleener film. It was like, 'Man, this guy has an uncanny ability to separate.' He's always open. There's always a place to throw the ball where he can get it."

The Times-Picayune's Christopher Dabe noted that Fleener was targeted eight times (catching six) during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s this week, the same number as top wideouts Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead.

While we don't put much stock in June targets, it's notable that Brees already feels confident that Fleener will be open. The quarterback having faith in the tight end will keep him in the progression longer.

Brees sounds excited to have a player of Fleener's size on the field once again -- like he once had in Jimmy Graham.

"Time on task with a guy like that, the more time we have in this offense where he can understand the nuances and understand what I am thinking, and where I want him to be, and when I want him to be there, and when and where the ball is going to be thrown -- that's when you really start cooking," Brees said. "That's when you feel like a guy is uncoverable. I don't care who is on him. He's 6-5 or 6-6, there is a place where I can throw the ball where he can get it or nobody can."

Fleener was a disappointment in Indianapolis. He compiled just 491 yards last season -- thanks in large part to Andrew Luck's injury. He never cracked the 800-yard barrier, but put up eight touchdowns in 2014.

The 27-year-old is not a blocking tight end, but rather a large receiving target. He'll fit in much better in Brees' offense. Fleener averaged 82 targets per year in four seasons in Indy. Brees sends passes towards his tight ends at a much higher rate, seeing the value in their height/speed mismatches.

Graham averaged 133.5 targets per season with New Orleans. Last year, a 35-year-old Benjamin Watson got 102 passes his way.

While this all looks good for Fleener on paper, we'll have to see flashes in training camp and preseason to believe the hype. Brees sounds like he views Fleener as the partner he once had in Graham, but Fleener's inconsistencies and drops could become a concern. Add rookie receiver Michael Thomas earning similar praise -- and owning a red zone acumen that should steal TDs away from the tight end -- and we are treading with caution on the Fleener praise. 

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