Saints Need To Swat Away Injury Bug
By Greg Barber
NFL players are falling like flies in training camps all around the league. In Green Bay, OL Brian Bulaga and WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were injured over the last couple days. The 49ers lost CB Chris Culliver and WR Michael Crabtree for the season while the Eagles will be without WR Jeremy Maclin for the year as well. And I am sure that is just the tip of the iceberg as the body count continues.
As the list goes on and on all across the league, the injury bug, unfortunately, has not missed the Saints. On the last day of OTAs, LB Victor Butler injured his knee and will miss the 2013 season and now fellow LB Martez Wilson will be sidelined for two to four weeks with a dislocated elbow.
WR Marques Colston sat out for a couple of days and luckily is now back with the team, but the news was not as good earlier today when head coach Sean Payton announced that WR Joe Morgan and DE Kenyon Coleman are out for the season.
So far that puts three significant players on the bench for the year before one single preseason game had been played and there are still several weeks to go before the start of the regular season. Hopefully, the rash of injuries will subside but there is no telling if that will happen or not. Maybe a few swats will cause the injury bugs to flee.
Since players can't be wrapped in bubble wrap, it is more important to pay more attention to the teams overall depth. With so many players getting hurt so quickly, it stands to reason that more players will be injured before the preseason is over.
With the rash of injuries New Orleans has suffered so far, there is a worry that if this unfortunate trend continues, it could potentially derail the Saints season. New Orleans does have talent on the bench that is capable of filling in for injured starters but most of these players are young and inexperienced.
As much as there is a reason for Saints fans to begin stressing out, just remember that it is not like the Saints have not run into this situation before. The team suffered injuries to several key players throughout its Super Bowl season and was still able to win it all.
If more injuries occur, opportunities will open up for players who would have been considered long shots to make the roster. Rest assured that Payton and GM Mickey Loomis will be looking to replace injured players and to build up the depth on the team. Several players will be cut from other teams, which can help the Saints fill holes to an extent. Saints fans everywhere just hope that no one else suffers a serious injury for the rest of the season.
Rookie wideout Kenny Stills has been taking Morgan’s snaps thus far in practice but do not count out the possibility of fellow receiver Steve Breaston getting a lot of playing time once he learns the playbook.
DE Akeem Hicks will take over for Coleman, but that was already a certainty to happen once the season got going. Once Wilson gets back, expect him to get a lot more playing time at both outside linebacker positions. Either way, he will be needed early on this season.
As much as Saints fans hate to see these injuries happen, they can rest easy knowing there is still a lot of talent, heart and resilience in this team and the coaching staff. The players and coaches will persevere should things get worse.
Breaston was always an undervalued receiver. With a QB like Brees throwing him the ball, look out!