DT Malcolm Roach among Saints players now eligible to return from injured reserve

DT Malcolm Roach among Saints players now eligible to return from injured reserve

Week 4 of the NFL regular season is nearly in the books, meaning a couple of New Orleans Saints players are now eligible to return from injured reserve — though we may not see them activated just yet. They still must pass a physical and successfully return to practice before they’ll be able to suit up for games. The NFL tweaked injured reserve rules again this offseason, making it so that now players must sit out at least four weeks before being allowed to return to the active roster (and only eight players may return during the season).

But one player who is optimistic for a quick return is defensive tackle Malcolm Roach, who exited the team’s final preseason game with an apparent lower leg injury. Roach went on the reserve list at the same time as rookie left tackle Trevor Penning, who is out until November with turf toe, but his injury has been said to be less serious and he may return soon. If so, the soonest Roach could get back on the field would be Week 5’s home game with the Seattle Seahawks.

They could use him. The Saints have called up Christian Ringo from the practice squad for two games early this season, otherwise using a three-man rotation featuring David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, and Kentavius Street. Rookie draft pick Jordan Jackson is also on the practice squad with Ringo. The run defense has been mercurial to start the year — the Falcons and Panthers ran for 201 and 145 rushing yards, respectively, while the Buccaneers and Vikings were held to 72 and 81 rushing yards. Roach’s return could solidify the interior and maybe help generate more pressure up the middle (Tuttle, Onyemata, and Street have totaled 11 combined sacks, hits, and hurries so far).

But it’s no guarantee that Roach will return just yet. We don’t know exactly how severe his injury was or what his recovery timeline looks like. Hopefully he’ll be back soon. Penning’s activation is still at least a month away. Another rookie draft pick, cornerback Alontae Taylor, may not be ready to return until Week 8 at the soonest, if at all. It still hasn’t been confirmed whether or not the knee injury he suffered in practice was a season-ending issue, so stay tuned.

And he isn’t out with an injury, but it’s worth noting wide receiver Kawaan Baker will be eligible to return from his suspension after Week 6’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, likely signing with the Saints practice squad (where Kirk Merritt, Keith Kirkwood, and rookie returns specialist Rashid Shaheed are currently on board).

Here is the list of others who are out for the season due to injuries:

  • DB Smoke Monday (rookie)
  • LB D’Marco Jackson (rookie draft pick)
  • LT Ethan Greenidge
  • LG Forrest Lamp
  • DT Albert Huggins

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Rookie left tackle Trevor Penning formally sidelined on Saints injured reserve list

Rookie left tackle Trevor Penning was formally sidelined on the Saints injured reserve list Thursday:

The New Orleans Saints formally designated left tackle Trevor Penning and defensive tackle Malcolm Roach to injured reserve on Thursday, though these moves were both expected prior to the team’s announcement. Each player must rest at least the first four games before being eligible to return, meaning the soonest they could suit up would be Week 5’s home game with the Seattle Seahawks.

New NFL rules allow up to eight players to return from IR after sitting out at least four weeks, so if both of them return that leaves six spaces available before New Orleans hits the league’s limit. It’s a good sign for the health of wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith that he’s avoiding this early-season stint on IR after exiting the preseason finale with an upper-body injury said to be impacting his shoulder or collarbone.

While Roach is expected to return to action as soon as he’s able, the wait may be longer for Penning. His turf toe injury requires surgery to repair a torn ligament and, depending on how his body responds to treatment, he could very well miss his entire rookie season. Let’s hope for the best, though, for one of the team’s first-round picks. The sooner he’s healthy and practicing the better for all involved.

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How do the Saints plan to navigate so many injuries at left tackle?

How do the Saints plan to navigate their issues at left tackle? Between injuries and roster cuts, James Hurst is the last man standing:

This is far from ideal. One factor in the New Orleans Saints’ decision to let Terron Armstead walk away in free agency was the instability they had experienced at left tackle throughout his career — talented as he was, Armstead’s lengthy injury history was a problem, and they believed moving on would help settle things at that spot (especially given the lofty contract Armstead won with the Miami Dolphins).

But things didn’t go as planned in the preseason. Of the four players to line up at left tackle during their three exhibition games, only Armstead’s former backup James Hurst remains somewhat healthy, and it’s unclear if he’ll be fully recovered from a toe injury in time for the season opener in Atlanta; Hurst hasn’t practiced since leaving a joint session with the Green Bay Packers early back on Aug. 17.

Two of the other three Saints left tackles are down with injuries. Undrafted rookie backup Sage Doxtater was injured in that same practice and initially landed on injured reserve, only to agree to a settlement that made him a free agent. And the heir-apparent, first round draft pick Trevor Penning, was knocked out of the preseason finale with a turf toe injury that may cost him his rookie year. The third member of the group, journeyman reserve Derrick Kelly II, was waived during final roster cuts in a move that looks kind of bizarre in context of all these other losses.

Let’s put it a different way. Hurst, who hasn’t practiced in nearly two weeks, is the only somewhat-available Saints player to line up at left tackle (10 snaps) in the preseason. Penning (113 snaps) may be lost for the season — the team just won’t know until they see how his body is responding to surgery. Doxtater (6 snaps) and Kelly (76) have both already been released. So what’s the plan?

Maybe the Saints are moving Landon Young back to left tackle after training him all summer to back up Ryan Ramczyk on the right side. Young started last year’s game with the Philadelphia Eagles in Armstead’s place and saw more than 2,500 snaps at left tackle in college at Kentucky. But he’s been out of action since Aug. 16 with his own injury, promoting undrafted rookie Lewis Kidd (a former left tackle at Montana State) into the role of Ramczyk’s understudy. Reversing course for Young two weeks before the season starts is hardly ideal, but what’re you gonna do? At least Saints head coach Dennis Allen was optimistic when recently discussing Hurst’s status.

What about Ramczyk? Another former left tackle himself (noticing a trend here?) at Wisconsin, he had significant incentives written into his contract should he earn All-Pro recognition at the left spot rather than his customary right tackle role. So it’s an option, but maybe one that should only be used out of desperation if Hurst isn’t ready to go. One of the enduring problems with Armstead’s absences was that the Saints often had to move multiple starters around to accommodate the hole in their lineup. Moving Ramczyk out of the spot he’s played his best football in the NFL just creates a vulnerability in another area. If they can find a way to plug the hole at left tackle and keep Ramczyk as an anchor at right tackle, that’s the path they should take.

So reinforcing the depth behind Hurst may be the best path forward. If the Saints feel they can trust Kidd to back up Ramczyk, flipping Young back to his natural position makes sense. If they don’t like that notion, adding another body at left tackle is a smart strategy. It’s unclear whether a veteran free agent like Jason Peters or Eric Fisher would be interested in signing to play backup, but it’s worth exploring anyway. The team could also consider trading a late-round pick for a highly-drafted prospect on the outs with their current team like Alex Leatherwood or Isaiah Wynn, or wait and try their luck with the waiver wire. Either way, they have a starter in Hurst. The objective is adding a player they can either rely on to fill in for him and/or develop in Penning’s place.

It’s a difficult knot to untangle. The best left tackles aren’t going to be moved from their teams any time soon, and any options that would move the needle for Saints fans would be too expensive. Again, the goal is to support Hurst as the starter, not to replace him. That was the vision the team had in drafting Penning in the first place, and it remains the best course forward. Let’s see what develops on this front in the days ahead.

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Breaking down our final Saints 53-man roster projection

Breaking down our final Saints 53-man roster and practice squad projection after training camp and the preseason finale, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

As the New Orleans Saints wrap up their preseason action, focus now turns to the final round of roster cuts. By 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 30 all teams across the league must trim their rosters down to 53 players. After which, more moves and changes will surely be made.

Wide receiver, linebacker, running back and, following a serious injury to rookie left tackle Trevor Penning, the offensive line all take center stage. But more storylines are worth watching as well, including the tough decision to be made around quarterback Ian Book who impressed in the preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Some players, like Book, did themselves some favors Friday night furthering their case to make the roster. New Orleans will have some tricky decisions to make leading up to Tuesday’s deadline and more to follow. Here is a projection of what the initial 53-man roster may look like at each position, some possible impending transactions thereafter and a swing at the 16-man practice squad as well.

Saints 1st-round pick Trevor Penning out indefinitely with foot injury

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Trevor Penning will require surgery to repair his foot injury

The New Orleans Saints will be without one of their first-round picks for the foreseeable future.

Offensive tackle Trevor Penning suffered a torn ligament in his foot that will require surgery, knocking him out of action indefinitely, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Penning was carted to the locker room after suffering the injury during Friday night’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The No. 19 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Penning was expected to challenge for the starting left tackle spot, following the departure of Terron Armstead in free agency.

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5 replacements Saints should consider with Trevor Penning out indefinitely

Eric Fisher, Jason Peters, and Alex Leatherwood are among replacements the New Orleans Saints should consider with Trevor Penning injured, via @DillySanders:

The New Orleans Saints will need to rush to the open market with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting that rookie tackle Trevor Penning is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his foot. He was likely not going to make a push for a starting spot yet, but looked to be solid depth while he developed. Now, their current backup tackle is Derrick Kelly who is likely not ready to be thrown into action in the regular season.

There will be more names available in the coming days with roster cuts looming, but for now there are a couple of very intriguing names available to the Saints if they want to get a head start:

Instant analysis on tough Trevor Penning injury news

Instant analysis on the tough Trevor Penning injury news; what it means for the rookie and the Saints offense

This isn’t what you want to see. New Orleans Saints rookie left tackle Trevor Penning is expected to undergo surgery after a serious turf toe injury, which will take him out of action indefinitely. It’s leaving a big impact on the Saints offense and Penning’s career trajectory.

Penning was not expected to start right away after turning pro out of Northern Iowa. His technical flaws as a prospect were on display throughout the summer, and though he was showing some rapid improvement the Saints weren’t exactly pressured into starting him right away with James Hurst on top of the depth chart.

The bigger issue for Penning, now, is that he’ll be spending time in the trainer’s room receiving treatment during his rehab when he could instead be on the practice field every day working with his coaches Doug Marrone and Zack Strief. There’s now a hiccup in the plans New Orleans set out for him. Time was already precious considering Penning didn’t play the position until he got to college — his learning curve was steeper than most before you even get into the jump in quality of competition.

But New Orleans may have to shift its whole approach here. Their only options in-house are Hurst and journeyman backup Derrick Kelly, unless they flip Landon Young back to his college position after spending the summer training him at right tackle. They’re one injury to Hurst away from putting Kelly in a big spot protecting Jameis Winston’s blind side.

So a move would make sense here to at least improve the depth chart. It’s unclear whether a veteran free agent like Jason Peters or Eric Fisher would be interested in signing on as a backup behind Hurst, but those might be the best candidates the Saints can find right now. They could also consider trading for another player on the outs with their current team, like Alex Leatherwood (Las Vegas Raiders) or Teven Jenkins (Chicago Bears).

It’s far from ideal. But when you consider the attrition the Saints have dealt with along their offensive line in recent weeks, losing top backups to injured reserve like left tackles Ethan Greenidge and Jerald Hawkins, plus left guard Forrest Lamp, the issue gets compounded. It’s unfortunate all around. Let’s see how they respond.

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Report: Trevor Penning needs foot surgery, out indefinitely

Report: Saints rookie left tackle Trevor Penning needs foot surgery, out indefinitely with torn ligament

This is really unfortunate. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that New Orleans Saints rookie left tackle Trevor Penning needs surgery after tearing a ligament in his foot during the team’s final preseason game, which will sideline him indefinitely.

That lines up with previous reporting that said Penning suffered a turf toe injury — the worst variety of which involves ligament damage. Recovery from surgery can take months, putting a serious hurdle on the first rounder’s rookie year. If there is a chance he can return to play this year, it won’t be determined until after the procedure, and the team must carry him on the initial 53-man roster before designating Penning to injured reserve. It’s a frustrating quirk for the league’s IR rules.

Here’s to a full and swift recovery. In the meantime, the Saints are banking on James Hurst returning to health in time for the Sept. 11 regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Other offensive tackles on the depth chart include starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and his backups Landon Young and Lewis Kidd, as well as reserve left tackle Derrick Kelly.

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Trevor Penning out ‘indefinitely’ with torn foot ligament

Saints rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his foot, which will require surgery.

New Orleans Saints rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning is out “indefinitely” with a torn ligament in his foot. The injury will require surgery.

Penning suffered the injury in the Saints’ preseason finale, a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. He played ten snaps before suffering the injury, and required a cart to get to the locker room. Initially, it was reported that it was a case of turf toe, but according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, he has a torn ligament in his foot which will require surgery:

The Saints drafted Penning in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, out of Northern Iowa. While in college, at the Senior Bowl, and in his first NFL training camp, Penning displayed a penchant for relying on a mean streak. However, as he found out earlier in the preseason, there is more to playing tackle in the NFL.

Saints fans now have to wait a little longer to see that mean streak in a regular-season game.

Saints fear turf toe injury for LT Trevor Penning in preseason finale

The Saints believe Trevor Penning suffered a turf toe injury in Friday’s preseason finale. What’s next for him and the team, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

During the final preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints rookie tackle was carted back to the locker room after walking off the field with an apparent lower leg injury. The first-round selection was able to walk to the injury tent, which was good news. But it wasn’t the best news awaiting Saints fans on Saturday morning. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported that Penning is believed to have suffered a “bad case of turf toe” which could keep him sidelined for a few weeks.

Last season safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson also went through a turf toe injury which caused him to miss four games. Back in 2019, wide receiver Devante Adams also missed four games with the same injury. Fellow wideout A.J. Green missed three games after suffering the injury in Week 8 of the 2018 season. He returned for 17 snaps against the Denver Broncos and then missed the remaining  four games of the season after aggravating the toe. This is an injury that can go many ways. Saints running back Mark Ingram went through it as well back in 2011 and missed six matchups.

There are a pair of silver linings here though. The first bit of good news is that this is not the type of injury that becomes a plague for years to come. It’s an impact injury that will take some time to heal up now, but shouldn’t become a long-term concern unless rushed to get back on the field too quickly. The next is that there are still two weeks before the Saints opening regular season action against the Atlanta Falcons. While it’s very unlikely Penning will be available Sept. 11, the schedule does carve out two weeks of his recovery time. That takes a six-week injury down to four games missed and a four-week injury potentially down to two games missed.

It seemed unlikely too that Penning would open the season as the starting left tackle if tackle James Hurst was also healthy. The underlying issue will be that he loses practice time and therefore ability to further his progression. Head coach Dennis Allen updated on Hursts’ progress last night saying that he’d be ready “sooner than later.” Throughout camp “sooner than later” from Allen has proven to mean “tomorrow” in most cases. So, expecting Hurst for Week 1 doesn’t seem too far fetched.

The big question beyond Penning’s return timeline, which is still to be determined, comes down to depth at the position. Behind Hurst, the Saints are shorthanded at left tackle options. Landon Young has been managing an injury, undrafted free agent Lewis Kidd has played almost exclusively on the right side, and Ryan Ramczyk is a part of the unit as well but is already your starting right tackle. The Saints placed veteran Derrick Kelly in the game after Penning left with the injury on Friday.

Some veteran available options on the open market include: Jason Peters, Nate Solder and Eric Fisher. Peters and Fisher each took over 800 snaps at left tackle last year. Solder took over 1,000 at the position in 2019. He opted out of the 2020 season and spent last year playing much more on the right side for the New York Giants. Another viable option would be former Denver Bronco Bobby Massie. He has only picked up a couple of games-worth of experience on the left side since being drafted in 2015, but with Hurst already locked in at starter, Massie doesn’t have the wear and tear of the aforementioned options with experience on both sides of the line. New Orleans could also look to the trade market.

Most of the free agent options remaining are over 30 years old, but the Saints would not be looking for long-term starters in this scenario. Helping the team by providing veteran depth for a hand of games or so could very well be the aim. The next thing to watch for when it comes to Penning beyond additional news around the injury is how New Orleans handles his roster spot after the 53-man cut downs.

If the Saints keep him on the roster and don’t move him to injured reserve come Aug. 31, it could mean they expect him back within the first four games of the season. If they do move him to the injured reserve list after the roster becomes official next Wednesday, he would miss at least the first four weeks of the season. Something to keep an eye on as the offseason wraps up and the regular season rapidly approaches.

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