2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints hope injury bug doesn't derail pass defense

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-26 17:52

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Injuries in New Orleans' defensive backfield have yet to stop the Saints from fielding one of the best pass defenses in the NFL.

They can only hope that trend holds in this Sunday's regular season finale against Tampa Bay, which will mark the first full game without standout rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro.

''It seems like every week it's a different little lineup and little shake-up,'' said veteran strong safety Roman Harper, who could see more action this week because of Vaccaro's absence. ''But at the end of the day, we've all got to depend on everybody. Whoever's in, we've got to make some plays. It definitely will hurt us without Kenny.''

Vaccaro fractured his left fibula late in the first quarter of last Sunday's 17-13 loss at Carolina, becoming the third regular in the defensive backfield to go down with a season-ending injury. Cornerback Patrick Robinson went out for the year with a right knee injury in Week 2 at Tampa Bay. In Week 11 against San Francisco, starting cornerback Jabari Greer went out for the year with a left knee injury.

And throughout the season, other defensive backs, including Harper earlier this season and safety Rafael Bush more recently, have missed several weeks apiece with various injuries. Harper returned six games ago from a knee injury, while Bush has missed the past three games with a high right ankle sprain.

Through it all, the Saints have allowed only 192.7 yards passing per game, which ranks second in the NFL.

''They've had some tough injuries, some tough breaks for them, but the guys they have playing have a lot of talent as well,'' Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon said, noting in particular what he saw on video of how New Orleans held Carolina to 10 points last Sunday until the Panthers' winning TD in the final minute. ''Holding that Panthers offense, which is an explosive offense, to not a lot of points really until that last drive ... shows they have a lot of talent there.''

Bush has returned to practice this week, providing hope he'll be able to help fill the void caused by Vaccaro's absence.

''If I feel I can go out there and not be a liability, then of course I'll go out there and play,'' Bush said Thursday after participating fully in practice. ''I'm excited. It's been a while, so I just want to make sure I can go out there and help the team play - and win.''

The consensus among Saints players and coaches is that losing Vaccaro will hurt. He was third on the team in total tackles with 77. He had one interception and also was credited with a sack, a forced fumble and four tackles for losses.

''Losing a player like Kenny is tough because he had really established himself,'' coach Sean Payton said. ''But the next guy will step up. We'll have a plan.''

Add free safety Malcolm Jenkins: ''Obviously just his style of play, his production, is going to be a big loss.''

But Jenkins, who was drafted as a cornerback in 2009 and has experience defending slot receivers as the nickel back in a five-defensive back formation, said the Saints have versatility in their favor.

''You can still move me and Roman around, or push (cornerback) Corey White in to help take that (nickel back) role,'' Jenkins said. ''We have a lot of guys that can move around to a lot of different positions, so I don't think we'll be limited at all as far as scheme.''

And if Bush returns, all the better, Jenkins said.

''The thing about Raf is he's very talented, very athletic,'' Jenkins said, adding that Bush covers tight ends well, something Vaccaro also did. ''He's got range, so he can play deep, he plays the ball well, he tackles really well, which is probably one of his best attributes. ... We're comfortable with him out there.''

NOTES: The Saints had nine players listed on their injury report, but did not have any players listed as limited or not participating in practice. All practiced fully with various ailments, including quarterback Drew Brees, who has a right knee bruise.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Connor BarthAug 29 03:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut PK Connor Barth Friday, Aug. 29.

Arrelious BennAug 29 03:32p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Arrelious Benn (back) will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Aug. 29.

B. Green-EllisAug 29 03:12p

The Cincinnati Bengals cut RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis Friday, Aug. 29.

Mitchell Van DykAug 29 02:42p

The St. Louis Rams released OT Mitchell Van Dyk Friday, Aug. 29.

Johnny ManzielAug 29 02:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel showed a strong effort in the team's final preseason game against the Chicago Bears Thursday, Aug. 28, leading head coach Mike Pettine to acknowledge [ More ]

Charles SimsAug 29 02:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle) is expected to be placed on the short-term Reserve/Injured list, which means he could return late in the season.

Santonio HolmesAug 29 01:52p

Chicago Bears WR Santonio Holmes displayed good burst and explosion on a 32-yard touchdown catch in the team's preseason finale Thursday, Aug. 28, as he tries to make the [ More ]

Larry EnglishAug 29 01:42p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released LB Larry English Friday, Aug. 29.

Marc MarianiAug 29 01:22p

The Tennessee Titans released WR Marc Mariani Friday, Aug. 29.

Yawin SmallwoodAug 29 01:12p

The Atlanta Falcons released LB Yawin Smallwood Friday, Aug. 29.

Pat AngererAug 29 01:12p

The Atlanta Falcons released LB Pat Angerer Friday, Aug. 29.

S. JanikowskiAug 29 12:32p

Oakland Raiders PK Sebastian Janikowski (quadriceps) is expected to be ready to play in Week 1 against the New York Jets, according to head coach Dennis Allen.

Aaron DobsonAug 29 11:02a

New England Patriots WR Aaron Dobson had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown in the final preseason game Thursday, Aug. 28.

Lonnie PryorAug 29 10:42a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released LB Ka'lial Glaud, FB Lonnie Pryor and CB Keith Lewis.

Benny CunninghamAug 29 10:18a

St. Louis Rams RB Benny Cunningham has been the team's best running back during the preseason and could push RB Zac Stacy for playing time this season.

Cam NewtonAug 29 09:37a

Updating a previous report, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (ribs) said Wednesday, Aug. 27, that he will be ready for the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsAug 29 08:52a

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) suffered an injury to his ribs in the same area as his previous one, according to sources.

Martavis BryantAug 29 08:42a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder) suffered a sprained right AC joint in his shoulder in the final preseason game Thursday, Aug. 28.

T.J. YatesAug 29 03:32a

Atlanta Falcons QB T.J. Yates threw for two touchdowns and 243 yards in his team's 24-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Dan OrlovskyAug 29 03:22a

Detroit Lions QB Kellen Moore was 17 of 28 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in a shutout of the Buffalo Bills Thursday, Aug. 28. It is not known [ More ]

Jeremy HillAug 28 11:52p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill (elbow) returned to the team's preseason finale Thursday, Aug. 28, after being evaluated in the locker room at halftime. He finished the game with [ More ]

Nate PalmerAug 28 11:52p

Green Bay Packers OT Aaron Adams (knee) and LB Nate Palmer (knee) left the team's preseason game Thursday, Aug. 28.

Devonta FreemanAug 28 11:22p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman had 12 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and five catches for 45 yards during the team's preseason finale Thursday, Aug. 28.

Cecil Shorts IIIAug 28 10:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) said he will be ready for the team's season opener.

Sammy WatkinsAug 28 07:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) left the team's final preseason game with an apparent injury. There was no indication if Watkins aggravated his ribs.

Kyle Van NoyAug 28 07:12p

Detroit Lions LB Kyle Van Noy (abdomen) underwent surgery Thursday, Aug. 28, to repair a core muscle injury. Van Noy's timetable for a return is unknown this early in the process.

Tim BenfordAug 28 07:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jace Davis, Dallas Cowboys WR Tim Benford, Kansas City Chiefs C Ben Gottschalk and Seattle Seahawks OG Greg Van Roten cleared waivers and became free agents Thursday, Aug. 28.

R. Griffin IIIAug 28 05:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III isn't playing consistently, according to ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski. Jaworski said Griffin must learn to throw from the pocket [ More ]

Geoff SchwartzAug 28 05:32p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), CB Prince Amukamara (groin), OT Charles Brown (shoulder), OT James Brewer (back), OG Geoff Schwartz (toe), OG [ More ]

Navorro BowmanAug 28 04:02p

San Francisco 49ers LB Michael Wilhoite appears to be the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker while LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) is out of the lineup.

J. CunninghamAug 28 03:52p

St. Louis Rams TEs Justice Cunningham and Alex Bayer likely are competing for one roster spot. Cunningham is considered a blocking tight end, while Bayer is a pass catcher. [ More ]

Michael SamAug 28 03:52p

St. Louis Rams DE Michael Sam is competing with DE Ethan Westbrooks for a spot on the final roster.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group