The New Orleans Saints may have two starters on offense make their season debuts Sunday against Detroit.
Receiver Willie Snead IV, who missed the first three games due to a league suspension and the fourth because of an injured hamstring, said he will play and left tackle Terron Armstead, who missed all of preseason and the first four games while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, was guardedly optimistic about his chance of playing against the Lions.
Both players were listed as “limited” participation in Wednesday’s practice.
“Yes, definitely,” Snead said when asked if he’ll play. “I’m ready to go and I will be ready to go.”
“Just daily progression, no setbacks,” Armstead said. “Trying to see as much as I can do every day and looking forward to Sunday. I don’t know exactly what that’ll be, but looking forward to it.”
Minus the two, the Saints are seventh in total offense (370.5 yards per game), fourth in passing offense (276.5 yards) and 12th in scoring (23.2 points).
While the initial goal was for Snead to play in Week 4, against Miami in London, his hamstring injury pushed back his timetable. Snead is the Saints’ second-leading returning receiver from last year.
“That was really tough; I was looking forward to playing in London, it was just all about being smart at that point and being available for the rest of the year,” he said.
“I think it’s going to take some reps. I’m really confident with the gameplan and how things are going right now. It’s just going to be getting those reps before and after practice”.
“It was good to have him back out there,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “He brings a great element to the offense. He can do a lot of things for us. We’ll see how that all plays out by the end of the week.”
Snead said his suspension, for a driving under the influence offense, was a time of reflection.
“It’s definitely been a learning experience,” he said. “This is something I’ve never been through, so I’m just trying to take it day by day, keeping my family close, keeping my faith strong and just trying to learn from my mistakes. This is definitely a learning process for me and so far, it’s been an easy transition from that incident to here. Ever since then, I’ve just wanted to leave it in the past and keep it moving.”
Armstead, meanwhile, never was placed on the reserve/injured list this year even after tearing his labrum during minicamp, due to the belief that the designation better would be spent on a player expected to miss more time than would Armstead.
He wore full pads Wednesday during the portion of practice that the media was allowed to view.
“With the injury like I had, there’s only so much you can do until it’s healed,” Armstead said. “Since it’s healed up, I’ve been pushing it every day. It kind of limits you on its own, that’s definitely been a challenge.”
Brees said the offensive lineman will be a welcome addition to a unit that has been in flux this season, with rookie Ryan Ramczyk having played right and left tackle, Andrus Peat having played left guard and left tackle, and Senio Kelemete having played right tackle and left guard due to various injuries.
“He brings such a presence and a confidence to the group,” Brees said. “We know what a good player he can be when he’s healthy and obviously, he’s battled back the last couple of years. I think there’s just a toughness and a presence and a confidence that he brings that will be great to have.”
Armstead has battled knee injuries the previous two seasons, which limited him to 13 games in ’15 and seven games last year. He missed the final three games of ’16 after being placed on injured reserve on Dec. 14.
“I’ve been having some lower-body issues the past few years, that’s feeling really good right now,” he said. “I’m excited about that.
“I haven’t played football in a while, since going on IR last year. So it’s been a while playing real football, live bullets like I would get Sunday, or whenever I return. That’s a huge challenge and then the weakness that I’m dealing with, with the shoulder being repaired. It’s a challenge, but I’m up for it.”