Missing a game was painful enough for New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins, but watching Sunday’s 41-0 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Bucs was tougher than he could ever have imagined.
Jenkins was put on injured reserve Saturday, one week after suffering a hamstring injury against the New York Giants. The next day, all he could do was help youngsters Isa Abdul-Quddus and Rafael Bush take his place.
Jenkins said he had a two- to three-week injury, which means it would have been a tight squeeze for him to return for the Dec. 30 season finale with Carolina. So, the decision was made to go on injured reserve.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time I think it was the smartest decision,” said Jenkins, one of the defensive captains. “With the playoffs looking kind of slim, it wasn’t smart to try to get back for (Carolina).
“I agreed with the decision from that standpoint, but as a competitor it was frustrating — especially when have a shutout like last week. Those kinds of performances you always want to be a part of.”
When the Dallas Cowboys play the Saints on Sunday in Cowboys Stadium, it will have been only two weeks since the death of practice squad member Jerry Brown in a car accident.
Brown was killed when a car driven by Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, his college teammate at Illinois, flipped over on Dec. 8. Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter and is on the reserve/non-football-injury list.
“I do think we came together, as a result of it, and we helped each other get through it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “I think our team did a really good job somehow, someway, processing the tragedy and at the same time maintaining some focus to be able to play football.
“It was particularly hard the first week, but it was equally challenging last week for different reasons. He was a big part of our team and he’s not here.”
The Saints talked Wednesday for the first time about visiting Tulane safety Devon Walker, who fractured his spine in a Sept. 8 game at Tulsa and has been recovering in an Atlanta rehab facility.
At least nine Saints players and interim coach Joe Vitt visited Walker on his 22nd birthday when the Saints played the Falcons in Atlanta last month.
Joining Vitt were Jenkins, Drew Brees, Jonathan Vilma, Pierre Thomas, Roman Harper, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Will Smith and Zach Strief.
“What’s unbelievable is his attitude and how positive he was,” Brees said of Walker, a Destrehan native who’ll continue his rehab after spending the holidays with his family back in Louisiana.
Strief, who missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, practiced on a limited basis Thursday for the first time since being hurt in a Dec. 9 game against the Giants.
The only player who didn’t practice Thursday was FB Jed Collins (knee/toe). CB Patrick Robinson (groin), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) and RB Pierre Thomas (knee) were limited.
Thomas was added to the report Thursday after having full participation Wednesday.
For the Cowboys, NT Jay Ratliff (groin) did not practice, while RB DeMarco Murray (foot), WR Dez Bryant (finger), LB DeMarcus Ware (elbow) and LB Ernie Sims (concussion) were limited.
The final online totals in the fan voting for the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl squads were released by the NFL on Thursday.
Brees was ninth among all players and third among NFC quarterbacks with 578,753 votes, while Saints punter Thomas Morstead led at his position with 104,563 votes.
The fan vote counts one-third with the players and coaches counting for one-third each. The teams will be announced Wednesday.
Brees, Jenkins and Harper have been chosen by their teammates to receive NFL Players Association PULSE Awards for their work in the community.
Each year, the NFLPA recognizes players who are as dedicated off the field as they are on it. A total of 72 players were chosen this year by their teams.
The list will be whittled to five semifinalists with one receiving the 2013 Byron “Whizzer” White Award, named in honor of the former football player and Supreme Court justice. The winner will also receive $100,000 for a charity of his choice.
Since losing their first nine times against the Cowboys in Dallas, the Saints have won three straight there.
The Saints lost nine games in Dallas between 1967 and 1991, with the first two coming in the Cotton Bowl and the next seven in Texas Stadium.
The Saints finally broke through with a 27-13 win in 2004 and pounded the Cowboys 42-17 in 2006. They also won 30-27 on Thanksgiving Day 2010 in their first visit to Cowboys Stadium.
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