It's a good thing the Saints don't have their regular season opener this week against Green Bay. A number of regulars weren't on the field as the Black and Gold returned to practice after their third preseason contest against Oakland. Among the notables missing time were: WR Lance Moore (groin), DE Cameron Jordan (undisclosed), running back Pierre Thomas (undisclosed), safety Malcolm Jenkins (undisclosed), RB Chris Ivory (sports hernia), DT Tom Johnson (calf), K Garret Hartley (hip), defensive end Will Smith was excused for a personal reason. Coach Sean Payton didn't address any injury related questions following practice. The Saints are starting to shift their focus and mentality to the regular season. Offensive lineman Carl Nicks and defensive end Jeff Charleston returned to the practice field on Tuesday. Some of the players that sat out of Tuesday's practice may not be injured, but just got an extra day of rest after a late return to New Orleans after Sunday night's game.
Showing some leg:
The Saints signed veteran kicker John Kasay, as Hartley continues to nurse a hip injury. The 18 year place kicker originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks in 1991. He then joined the Carolina Panthers as a free agent in 1995, where he spent the past 14 seasons. Throughout the course of his career the University of Georgia product has converted 433 field goals on 529 attempts (81.9% conversion percentage) as well as 524-of-535 extra points attempts (.979% conversion percentage). Kasay has scored 1,823 career points during his professional tenure, which places him second all-time amongst active players in the NFL (Jason Hanson, Detroit Lions, 1,890 points). In 2010 Kasay converted 25-of-29 of his field goals for a conversion percentage of 86.2% with a long field goal of 55 yards, as well as all 17 of his extra points attempts. The signing of a veteran kicker tells me that Hartley likely won't be ready for the season opener, and the Saints are preparing for that scenario. Kasay didn't say how long he might be handling the kicking duties only saying, "I'm day to day, as I've always been." In practice Kasay looked pretty solid, hitting all of his field goal attempts from as far out as 37 yards with plenty of room to spare.
Cut down day:
Ahead of Tuesday's league mandate, the Saints trimmed their roster to 80 by making the following transactions: Waived/Injured: G Roger Allen, LB Ezra Butler, WR Jarred Fayson and RB Chris Taylor. Released: DE Alex Brown. Waived: WR John Chiles, T Dan Gay, FB Kolby Hurt, S DeAndre McDaniel, CB Mark Parson and C Ryan Taylor. The decision to release Brown was a bit of surprise, but Coach Payton did say the door is open for a possible return for Brown. The Saints host the Tennessee Titans on Thursday in the preseason finale for both teams. All NFL teams must reduce their roster to 53 players by Saturday at 5 p.m.
Most of the Saints frontline guys will likely not see the field at all Thursday night against Tennessee. Typically the final preseason game is for the reserve guys fighting to make the final roster. Coach Payton did say some veterans who didn't see a lot of playing time early in preseason will get a few snaps, just to get them in game-like situations. With a quick turnaround the following week in the season opener, the Saints won't risk guys to injury.