WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Jairus Byrd wasn't quite ready to begin practicing yet on Friday as the New Orleans Saints opened training camp. So they officially placed their prized new safety on the physically unable to perform list.
However, coach Sean Payton continued to insist that he expects Byrd back sooner than later. And Byrd certainly looked like he was close to returning from offseason back surgery while performing a series of drills off to the side with trainers throughout practice.
In fact, Byrd was one of the last players to leave the field as he was catching balls one-handed from the JUGS machine following practice.
"We will work day-to-day with him, and the good news is it is going to be sooner rather than later," Payton said. "I don't want to put a time on it, but his progress is ahead of schedule. … We are still just getting it to where we feel he is 100 percent. And then clearly before we leave here (The Greenbrier, where the Saints will practice for the first three weeks of training camp) he will be back on the roster.
"It is just a matter of us making sure we feel that he is ready to go at 100 percent and there is no risk of any injury."
Receiver Kenny Stills also joined the injury list during practice when he pulled up lame with a right quadriceps injury while running a deep passing route. He left the field with trainers and did not return.
Payton said he doesn't expect the injury to be serious, though.
"He had a tight quad two weeks ago when he was training out in San Diego," Payton said. "It is the same right quad. I don't think it is real serious. I will get some more information here with [trainer Scottie Patton]."