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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