September 11, 2008

Saints Defense Ravaged By Injuries; Thomas Released

Fujita, Harper, Gay, Lake out for Redskins game; Simoneau to IR; Thomas to IR then cut

The Saints' training room is busy this week.

A quick rundown of the Saints' injury woes, which have exploded after week one's slugfest with the Bucs, begins with WR Marques Colston, lost for four to six weeks with a thumb injury.

But the defense has taken the worst hit from a storm of injuries.

DT Hollis Thomas has been suffering from a torn triceps suffered during training camp. The Physically-Unable-to-Perform list was not an option for Thomas because the injury was suffered after training camp opened.

Thomas was placed on injured reserve and then on Thursday was released with an injury settlement. While Thomas is still guaranteed his season salary because he was on the 53 man roster to start the regular season, he is also a free agent and able to sign with any team.

The Saints have likely promised to re-sign Thomas once his triceps injury is healed, which may not be until November, though such an agreement would not be binding. Thomas is also free to sign with any team, at any time.

To replace him on the roster, the Saints signed veteran DT Alvin McKinley, 30, a ten-game starter for Denver in 2007. McKinley was cut by the Broncos on September 2.

Unfortunately, McKinley injured his left foot during his first practice and sat out most of the session. He participated in Friday's session and was listed as probable. McKinley may see playing time, as another key backup at defensive tackle, Antwan Lake, left Sunday's game with a groin injury. Lake will not play in Sunday's game against the Redskins.

The Saints will be also without backup linebacker Marc Simoneau (back), starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (knee), starting strong safety Roman Harper (hamstring) and starting cornerback Randall Gay (hamstring).

Fujita suffered a bone bruise in his knee during the first minutes of Sunday's game, but also finished the game. He will be replaced by LB Troy Evans in the starting lineup, a player who has been a contributor exclusively on special teams until now. Simoneau would have likely been his replacement, but Simoneau was placed on injured reserve after back surgery.

The loss of Simoneau and Fujita's absence leaves the Saints very thin at linebacker. Rookie Jo-Lonn Dunbar and second year Marvin Mitchell are exclusive special teamers, but are now primary backups behind weakside starter Scott Shanle, middle starter Jonathan Vilma and Evans.

Harper's absence leaves the Saints to start backup free safety Josh Bullocks alongside Kevin Kaesviharn. Harper and Fujita are two of the team's better run defenders, and going into RB Clinton Portis' stadium this weekend will be tough without them.

This would be only the second game in Fujita's seven year career he will miss.

Gay's absence, will be softened by the probable return of Mike McKenzie, who should play but may not be in the starting lineup. Rookie Tracy Porter and 36-year old Aaron Glenn will likely start at cornerback.

The Saints will likely also miss RB Aaron Stecker for the second straight week.

Notes: The Saints added DE Josh Savage from the practice squad and waived TE Billy Miller... The Saints re-signed backup OL Matt Lehr to the active roster. Lehr had been cut before week one's game... Undrafted rookie free agent signee David Roach was added to the practice squad... Backup QB Jamie Martin has been signed by the 49ers. He was the Saints' primary backup quarterback the past two years, and is now reunited with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who he played for in St. Louis for five years...

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