Saints' Lewis, Byrd, Cooks absent Monday


METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis, safety Jairus Byrd and receiver Brandin Cooks were absent from Monday’s practice – though the prognosis was mostly optimistic.

Payton said Lewis is “just working through rehab,” though he didn’t specify the injury. Lewis left Friday night’s preseason game early, but he returned to full practice participation on Sunday before being held out Monday.

Cooks just had a stomach virus, according to coach Sean Payton.

And Payton said he still expects Byrd to get clearance to return to full practice, “sooner than later, hopefully tomorrow.” Byrd has been absent the past two days. But before that, he had been practicing on a limited basis daily for more than two weeks while recovering from summer back surgery. Byrd hasn't yet participated in full-team drills or a preseason game.

Byrd later sent out a tweet that seemed to indicate he indeed got the clearance he was hoping for: “Healed by the grace of God.”

Defensive end Akiem Hicks and guard Ben Grubbs both left Monday’s practice session early -- Grubbs with the trainers. But neither was addressed by Payton.

On some more positive injury notes, receiver Kenny Stills returned to full-team drills for the first time in roughly three weeks as he recovers from a strained quad. Stills said he tried to come back from the quad strain too early, which led to some setbacks in his recovery. But he said he had to learn to be patient, and now he feels fully healthy again.

And quarterback Drew Brees went through another fully healthy practice after returning on Sunday. Payton said he liked Brees’ tempo during practice on Monday, calling it "noticeably different."

"I thought he was in and out of the huddle, he was really locked in, and I thought he threw the ball fairly well," Payton said. "He felt pretty good after yesterday's practice, and I thought that was important today, coming in the training room and feeling like there wasn't a day-after effect, if you will, soreness. So that was encouraging."

Other injury notes: