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Saints' inactives will be filled with drama

10/25/2013

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' game-day list of inactives will have more drama Sunday morning than any other game to date this season. Four key players are listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills -- tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive end Cameron Jordan, right tackle Zach Strief and running back Mark Ingram.

Meanwhile, the Bills' most dynamic offensive weapon, running back C.J. Spiller, is listed as doubtful because of an ankle injury.

Graham is obviously the marquee player on the Saints' list. And millions of fantasy football lineups will hang in the balance until the Saints make their final decision, which probably will come after they test him out Sunday morning.

Graham's status is really too close to call at this point. He was able to practice on a limited basis Friday, which is a legitimate sign he might play Sunday, even if he's limited in the game. At the same time, the Saints won't push it since they don't want to risk any long-term setbacks.

The Saints feel comfortable their deep offense can still be effective without Graham -- especially since it looks as if receiver Lance Moore will return from a hand injury that has kept him out since Week 3. If Graham doesn't play, receivers Marques Colston, Moore and Kenny Stills, running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas and veteran tight end Benjamin Watson could all help pick up the slack. Obviously no one individual would fill his role, though.

Jordan (ankle) and Strief (ankle) seem even more likely to play, since they practiced on a limited basis both Thursday and Friday. Jordan has arguably been the Saints' defensive MVP this season as a power pass rusher and standout run defender. So a case could be made that his status is just as important to the Saints as Graham's.

Ingram is another 50-50 proposition after he, too, returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and said his toe feels the best it has felt since Week 2. Presumably, the Saints can afford to be even more patient with Ingram, however, since they're so deep at running back with Sproles, Thomas and Khiry Robinson.

Three Saints players were officially ruled out Friday -- safety Roman Harper (knee), defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker (knee) and cornerback Rod Sweeting (hip). Moore and safety Malcolm Jenkins (back) are listed as probable.