New Orleans Saints release injured defensive tackle Brian Young

New Orleans Saints release injured defensive tackle Brian Young

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune April 28, 2009 11:10AM

The Saints released defensive tackle Brian Young, who has been unable to return from a major left knee injury this offseason.

I just spoke to Young, who said he still wants to come back and play, whether it’s this year or next. But he knows it’s a long shot after having three procedures this offseason that he said “nobody’s ever come back from.”

The Saints released defensive lineman Brian Young.

Young said he has no ill will toward the Saints, who went “above and beyond” to give him a chance to come back this offseason. And he said if he is able to come back he doesn’t want to play for any other team.

“It’s hard to deal with right now because I’ve been playing this game for 20 years and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Young said.

Young, 31, was originally scheduled to earn a $1.5 million salary and $3 million roster bonus this season, but he had already worked out an undisclosed restructuring of the roster bonus earlier this year. He had two years remaining on the three-year deal he signed in 2007.

“This was a very difficult decision to make,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement. “Brian is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met and I have as much respect for him as any player I have ever been associated with. We will miss his passion for the game. He has been a key contributor to our defense for a number of years and has also brought a lot to our organization as a high character individual. He has not received as much recognition and credit as he deserves for what he has brought to our team and this community. He will always be welcome in our building.”

Young spent five years with the Saints after signing as a free agent from St. Louis in 2004. He had 266 tackles, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles in that span.

The 6-foot-2, 298-pounder was a mainstay in the lineup until 2007, when his left knee was originally hurt against Atlanta in Week 7.

He continued to play through his knee issues – in addition to other ailments, including a frightening bout with pneumonia that landed him in the hospital for 11 days in late 2007. But eventually the knee gave out on him.

Young has had six surgeries on the knee over the past two years, including three this offseason. He had part of his bone replaced with the bone from a cadaver, which he said “actually went well.” But he said most of the lateral meniscus is gone from the knee, and a meniscus transplant he underwent last month “didn’t take.”

Young said whenever he does quit football for good, he’ll have to have a more serious procedure, which will involve breaking the leg to reset it. But he’s not ready to give up the dream just yet. If all goes well, he can begin running in June and attempting football activities in July. He knows a return this season would be especially difficult but said next year is also a possibility.

“I don’t want to just come back and be an average d-lineman,” Young said. “I only want to come back if I can come back and play like I did before. If I’m not going to be able to play fast and high intensity the way I was before, then I’ll hang it up.

“It’s too bad because I like what they’re doing here. I like the direction we’re headed. … I’m gonna be lost without this game.”

The Saints have decent depth at the tackle position, but it’s loaded with question marks behind starters Sedrick Ellis and Kendrick Clancy. Veteran Hollis Thomas has continued to battle weight and conditioning issues. Veteran Rod Coleman is attempting to come back after a year away from football. And second-year pro DeMario Pressely missed his entire rookie year after suffering a foot injury at the start of training camp.

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