August 10, 2008

Arrington's Injury Has Depth Chart Implications

7th round pick might be tough to hide on practice squad; more notes from camp

WR Adrian Arrington emerged from the preseason opener with the most significant injury. A turf toe injury will keep him out at least a week, according to head coach Sean Payton, who described it Sunday as "pretty serious."

The nature of the injury isn't pleasant. Sprained toe ligaments can linger and test the patience of a skill position player. The injury's timing is also unfortunate, as Arrington needs all the face time with coaches that he can in order to win a job.

A seventh round pick afterthought and a longshot to make the team, he was steady and mature through the first week of practice. Not being experienced on special teams, Arrington especially needs time on coverage teams in order to earn an active job on the 53-man roster.

In his place, last year's first round pick Robert Meachem is riding high on a tide of his great performance through camp and the first preseason game. Arrington had two catches for 46 yards in the game, while Meachem had four catches for 129 yards and a dazzling 60-yard touchdown.

The wide receiver battle is still not set. The only locks to make the team are Marques Colston and David Patten, for performance reasons, and Meachem, for financial reasons. Terrance Copper is a lock to make the team because of special teams. Then come Lance Moore and Skyler Green, one of which will look to win the starting kick return job. Unless Tracy Porter or Pierre Thomas can win darkhorse campaigns to return the kickoffs, Moore or Green will make the team.

"There’s a lot of competition there and you have to take into account what these guys can do on special teams when it comes to your final 53," said Payton on Sunday.

The rookie Arrington then sits in a position to force the Saints to keep a sixth wide receiver. By showing enough in practice and in exhibition games, Arrington could turn out to be too valuable to risk losing to the waiver wire process or hiding on the practice squad.

Then again, this injury could give the Saints just the cloak they need to keep Arrington around for a year. Coaches, specifically wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson and head coach Sean Payton, may have already seen enough of Arrington. This turf toe injury could be just what the Saints need to hide him on the practice squad for a year as the underclassman develops.

The other notable injury is a lower leg injury to Bobby McCray. A key to the rotation of the defensive line, McCray suffered a lower leg bruise against Arizona. McCray should return to practice on Monday, according to Payton.

Other injuries include DT James Reed, who tore his Achilles tendon on Saturday, August 9, during afternoon practice. G Andy Alleman has a minor hip bruise. RB Reggie Bush experienced some swelling in his knee and wore a brace over the weekend, but it should be nothing serious. Bush experienced the swelling in his left knee, that suffered a PCL tear last season.

TE Jeremy Shockey is still working through his broken leg from the 2007 season. CB Mike McKenzie, on the other hand, practiced at full speed on Sunday, though he'll continue to get days off. WR Devery Henderson and CB Tracy Porter have recovered from their simultaneous hamstring injuries and are in practice, as is safety Josh Bullocks.

The Cardinals are ecstatic about CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's hit on TE Mark Campbell, which helps shake a rep that the rookie wasn't a bit hitter. For Campbell, though, it was a good reintroduction to the NFL after missing all of 2007 with a back injury that had severely limited his football contact for the past 18 months.

Former Saint draft pick and backup QB J.T. O'Sullivan earned the start for the 49ers in their preseason opener. O'Sullivan was a preseason sparkplug in 2002 and 2003 for the Saints and gave New Orleans fans a reason to watch NFL Europe in 2003 and 2004. He was shipped to Green Bay as part of the trade that brought Mike McKenzie to New Orleans in 2004. He then hopped to the Vikings, Bears, Lions and now the 49ers.

O'Sullivan mixed some dynamite, laser throws on target to down field receivers with a batted down screen pass, a horrible-looking interception when his receiver broke off a deep route, an Aaron Brooks-esque backwards pass and a lost fumble in four drives.

It was easy to recognize his blond-locks as he scrambled around haphazardly in Oakland on Friday, though there's always been a special place in Saints' fans hearts for risk-taking O'Sullivan's exciting preseason performances. That includes the 2004 preseason game in Chicago when O'Sullivan hit then-rookie Devery Henderson for a touchdown bomb and dove to the pylon for the game-winning touchdown in the Saints' 17-13 victory.

Notes: The Saints placed James Reed on injured/waived and re-signed LS Ryan Senser... The Saints waived DB Wale Dada and signed WR Joe West. The Saints pursued former UTEP receiver West as an undrafted rookie free agent in April but he signed in Dallas. The Cowboys waived him in June... Former Saint P Mitch Berger has signed in Pittsburgh...

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