October 20, 2010

Saints lose CB Gay for season to concussion; add FA CB Butler

The Saints hope to gain one stalwart veteran in the defensive secondary soon, but meanwhile have lost another veteran for the season.

Free safety Darren Sharper has returned to practice and may be activated off the Physically-Unable-to-Perform list soon.  The team has three weeks during which Sharper can practice but not count against the 53-man roster.

But cornerback Randall Gay, the team's nickelback and oftentimes starter given the rash of injuries at the position, has been put down for the season with ongoing concussion-related problems. 

Gay, 28, who first suffered a concussion against the 49ers, missed the next game but would return against Panthers and Cardinals in weeks four and five.  He didn't play against the Bucs on Sunday because of concussion symptoms.

The league has placed heightened emphasis on player safety this season, and players are required to undergo baseline neurological testing before the season which must be evaluated upon suspicion of a concussion injury.  Players are not supposed to be allowed back into the game, or into the next week's action, while still suffering the lingering effects of a concussion. 

Given injury to Tracy Porter, it must be a significant problem for Gay for him to be placed on the season-ending injured reserve list.  Until Porter returns, rookie Patrick Robinson is expected to continue to start across from Jabari Greer, with veteran Leigh Torrence and versatile defensive backs Usama Young and Malcolm Jenkins also playing cornerback.

The Saints also signed free agent cornerback Quincy Butler, who was waived by the Rams after the preseason and without a team since. 

Butler, 26, entered the league in 2006 with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, and could not get on the field. 

He eventually made his way to St. Louis, where he became a starter on a bad St. Louis defense last season, starting seven games for the Rams including a five-tackle performance in a closer-than-expected loss to New Orleans last November 15.  He does not have any career interceptions. 

Butler has good size at 6'1, 188, and was on the Saints' practice squad briefly in 2008.  Payton, when asked about Butler on Wednesday commented: "He has good ball skills; he has good range and good size. He had a good workout with us a week-and-a-half ago. He got some good reps in today and we have to get him up to speed as soon as possible."

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