Four defensive keys for the Saints missed practice on Wednesday, and another was lost to injured reserve the day before.
Starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter continue to sit with groin and MCL injuries respectively. And while the cornerbacks have been hit hard in recent weeks, injuries at linebackers are also mounting. Starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita has had a string of bad luck. First a calf injury forces him out, then after returning, a staph infection in a burst bursa sac in his knee put him in the hospital. Fujita has not practiced the past two weeks.
With Fujita out, his replacement was second year Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who was lost to a hamstring injury in Washington and placed on season-ending injured reserve yesterday.
Backup LB Marvin Mitchell is also missing practice time with a hamstring injury. Between Dunbar and Mitchell being out, the Saints have lost some serious meat on special teams.
To replace Dunbar on the roster, the Saints plucked LB Anthony Waters off the practice squad of the Bills. That's a familiar name, as Waters was one of the last cut when preseason ended. He should be able to contribute right away and attempt to fill Dunbar's role on coverage and return teams.
Turns out the Saints will have a fullback after all, as they signed free agent FB Marcus Mailei (MY-lay), an undrafted rookie from Weber State who ran the slowest 40 yard time of all runningbacks and fullbacks at the 2009 NFL combine: 4.97. Mailei, 23, 5'11 1/2, 248, did press 225 pounds a respectable 22 times. Out of the draft, he signed with the Eagles practice squad. Mailei replaced Kyle Eckel on the roster.
Limited in practice for the Saints were RB Mike Bell (knee) , RB Reggie Bush (knee) , T Jermon Bushrod (thumb), TE Darnell Dinkins (foot) , DT Sedrick Ellis (knee) , G Jahri Evans (toe) , CB Randall Gay (hamstring) , C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle) , RB Lynell Hamilton (shoulder) , DE Bobby McCray (knee) , WR Lance Moore (ankle/hamstring) , LB Jonathan Vilma (knee) , S Usama Young (hip/calf).
That long list represents, among others, three starting offensive linemen and three of four Saint runningbacks.
In Atlanta, starting QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner continue to miss practice, and are joined by starting offensive lineman C Todd McClure and G Harvey Dahl. Starting CB Chris Houston also missed practice Wednesday, all with leg or foot injuries.