Payton: Robert Meachem close to return

The New Orleans Saints have been very cautious with the health of wide receiver Robert Meachem, who had a little offseason work done to fix ligament damage in his toe. Although Meachem’s been running and catching balls on the side of the field, he still hasn’t practiced since camp opened.



That’s about to change.

“I think he’s very close,’’ coach Sean Payton said after Sunday morning’s practice. “I’m hoping that it’s sometime in the early part of this week. I think Robert is progressing pretty well on schedule and we can have him hopefully here in the next couple of days.”

In other news, Payton implied that the team isn’t going to just hand the spot Lynell Hamilton was supposed to fill in the backfield rotation to young running backs P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory.

“Right now, to be fair to those two players, they have a lot of work ahead of them,’’ Payton said. “Both of them have shown some real positive signs, which is encouraging. Fortunately, they’re going to have three more games to get a lot of reps and we’ll see how they progress. But I do like what I’m seeing from them. That being said, there’s still a number of things that they’re working on to get fully up to speed.’’

Payton said he anticipates the Saints will sign another running back this week. Hamilton tore up his knee in a scrimmage with the Patriots and the Saints would like a big, power back to team with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.

“We’re currently looking,’’ Payton said. "It’s not something that we’ve decided that we’re going to wait on but the question is can we find the right player and do we have to wait if we can’t. We’re looking right now so I wouldn’t say we’re staying pat, we just haven’t signed anyone in the last two days. Hopefully we’re able to get someone in here that we have a high enough grade on.”