November 24, 2009

Saints bring back CB McKenzie to battered secondary

CB Mike McKenzie, a long-time Saint with a brutal stretch of knee injuries and rehab over the past two years, has apparently passed a physical and will re-join the secondary.

McKenzie suffered torn knee ligaments in Week 16 of 2007, returned after furious rehab to start the 2008 season only to suffered a fractured kneecap in Week 10 of 2008. McKenzie was cut by the Saints this past offseason in a move motivated by salary cap, age, and pessimism that McKenzie would be ready to go at season start.

McKenzie has 12 of his career 27 interceptions during four and a half seasons with the Saints. He spent the first five and a half seasons of his career in Green Bay before he was traded to New Orleans at the trade deadline in 2004. He immediately started for Jim Haslett's Saints that season, collecting five interceptions in 10 games. In 2007, McKenzie collected three interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns before his injury in late December.

McKenzie remains one of the best cornerbacks to wear a jersey for the Saints, though he played on only one team with a winning record (2006). He was a leader in off-field charity work in the area as well, featured in an NFL United Way television spot where he helped install a new youth fitness park in New Orleans.

McKenzie joins veteran Chris McAlister in the Saints secondary, where the Saints are tight-lipped about the injuries to starters Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer, and backup Randall Gay. Another reserve, Leigh Torrence, was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Aside from McAlister and McKenzie, who are ostensibly ready to go, the only healthy Saint cornerback is rookie first round pick Malcolm Jenkins, who made his first start and played well Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Backup free safety Usama Young also played some cornerback the past two games, as the Saints have shuffled around the secondary.

The Saints moved Torrence to the season-ending injured reserve list to make room for McKenzie on the 53-man squad.

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