One-fifth of Saints roster suffering with injuries

One-fifth of Saints roster suffering with injuries

Posted by Teddy Kider, The Times-Picayune September 24, 2008 10:58PM

Through three games of the 2008 season, Saints Coach Sean Payton has faced an unfamiliar concern — injuries and unavailable players.

More than one-fifth of New Orleans’ 53-man roster was listed on the injury report Wednesday. Eight players missed practice, five were limited, and the Saints already had one player suspended and at least one possible key contributor on injured reserve.

That on a team that had been relatively fortunate with injuries in recent seasons.

“That streak’s broken,” right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. “We’re facing a lot of adversity, and the adversity that’s coming right now is injuries and players that aren’t available to us. And if you want to be a championship team, you have to overcome these things.”

The defense could get good news before Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, after starting linebacker Scott Fujita (knee) and defensive tackle Antwan Lake (groin) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. However, linebacker Troy Evans (ankle), missed practice, and cornerbacks Randall Gay (hamstring) and Aaron Glenn (ankle) also were not able to participate, according to Payton.

The Saints’ offense has taken over as the side with the most missing players, specifically receivers.

Payton said tight end Jeremy Shockey, who is second on the Saints in receptions and receiving yards, had sports hernia surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss three to six weeks. The injury began as a problem with Shockey’s groin that did not go away, Payton said, and he had been playing with it for weeks.

The Saints’ leading receiver from last season, Marques Colston, is expected to miss at least several more weeks after thumb surgery, and receiver David Patten — who had the second-most receiving yards on the team last season — missed Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury.

The second option at tight end, Mark Campbell, missed practice Wednesday with a pulled hamstring, and receiver Terrance Copper was limited during practice, also with a hamstring injury.

“There’s some guys that haven’t gotten a whole lot of playing time in the past that are going to need to step up and contribute quite a bit or are going to get the opportunities, at least,” quarterback Drew Brees said about the receiving corps. “I have all the confidence in the world in that group, though.”

The only healthy receivers on the 53-man roster are Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem. And the starting tight end for the Saints is slated to be Billy Miller, 31, who said such opportunities are “kind of the story of my career.”

Miller said he has been released six times, including once this season by the Saints, before the game against the Washington Redskins.

“My son was like, ‘Daddy, how come the Saints are on TV and you’re at home?’¤” Miller said. “I just told him they didn’t need me this week. That part was a little weird.”

Mike Karney, the only fullback on the roster, missed practice with an ankle injury, and running back Aaron Stecker (hamstring) was limited. But the other main concern could be on the offensive line.

Starting left tackle Jammal Brown (hip) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, perhaps a good sign, but starting left guard Jamar Nesbit is suspended for the next four games after violating the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

“My understanding, without getting into all of the specifics, is a diuretic was involved,” Payton said Wednesday, addressing Nesbit’s suspension for the first time. “And the problem is, at the end of the day, the player is responsible for what he puts in his body. And the league is pretty clear about that. And when you get into some of these supplements, diuretics, it’s not necessarily always governed by the FDA. They’re not always approved. My understanding was it was a diuretic, not a steroid.”

Payton added: “There’s nothing we can do about it, so we go from there.”

Rookie Carl Nicks, a fifth-round draft pick from Nebraska, likely will replace Nesbit in the starting lineup.

With San Francisco (2-1) coming into the Superdome on Sunday, that is one of many decisions Payton will have to make this week. He said he spent an hour Tuesday night working solely on roster decisions.

Payton also explained Wednesday that his team has not panicked, even after losing to the Denver Broncos, falling to 1-2 and encountering so many injuries.

“Obviously, we’re all disappointed and frustrated and upset,” Payton said. “It was a tough loss, because we played well enough at times and certainly well enough to win the game. I think the approach of the team after the game was, hey, we’re going to be all right. This team’s going to be all right.”

Teddy Kider can be reached at tkider@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3409.

One Response to “One-fifth of Saints roster suffering with injuries”

  1. Frankie says:

    I added this website to my favorites list