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Friday, September 27, 2013
Saints injuries: Moore still sidelined

By Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' injury report got a little thinner Friday, but five players were still held out of team drills -- receiver Lance Moore (hand), safety Roman Harper (knee), tailback Mark Ingram (toe), defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and defensive end Tom Johnson (hamstring).

Moore
Defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker (knee) and guard Tim Lelito (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis.

The Saints didn’t offer specific details on any of those injuries. But with each passing day that those players miss practice, their chances of playing Monday night against the Miami Dolphins decrease.

Harper, Ingram, Bunkley and Johnson all missed last Sunday’s game, as well. But the Saints demonstrated that they were deep enough at each of those position groups to absorb those losses in a 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

That should also be the case if Moore can’t play. Although Moore has been a huge part of the Saints’ offense for eight years, the Saints have great depth in the passing game.

They will obviously continue to feature veterans like receiver Marques Colston, tight end Jimmy Graham and tailback Darren Sproles. They can also lean more heavily on backup receivers Kenny Stills, Robert Meachem and Nick Toon and backup tight end Benjamin Watson.

Stills is a rookie, and this is Toon’s first NFL season after he spent his rookie year on injured reserve. But those two young receivers were among the team’s most productive players during the preseason, cementing their spots on the roster.

“We had a chance through the preseason to get a lot of guys repetitions. So we’ll be ready if (Moore) can or if he can’t (play),” coach Sean Payton said. “It’s one of the areas where we were able to get the younger players a lot of reps.”

Stills, a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, has just three catches for 96 yards this season. But he was arguably the Saints’ breakout offensive star of the preseason with nine catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Stills is a fast, elusive receiver who can get open deep or slip through traffic -- similar to Moore in many ways. He and Meachem (a veteran deep threat) would likely see the biggest increase in snaps and targets if Moore can’t play.

Toon is a bigger receiver, more in the mold of Colston, with some deceptive speed of his own. He doesn’t have a catch yet this year after being inactive the past two weeks.

Four other Saints were limited in practice for the second straight day Friday: guard Jahri Evans, cornerback Jabari Greer, cornerback Chris Carr and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus. Starters Evans and Greer are likely to play against the Dolphins.