METAIRIE — After playing 14 times against the New Orleans Saints in a seven-year career, linebacker Barrett Ruud thought about how strange and ironic it was to be standing in the middle of their locker room Wednesday.
“It’s been really good; (there are) a lot of familiar faces,” Ruud said of his first full day with his new teammates. “I know a lot of these guys and have a lot of respect for them. It’s exciting. It’s fun to be here.”
That feeling faded fast as Ruud, who was acquired in a Monday night trade with the Seattle Seahawks, continued his crash course in learning the Saints’ new defense.
“It is a little bit different defense. It’s kind of like learning Spanish,” he said of the system installed by new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “You know what to say, it’s just a different way to say it now. It should be fine.”
Still, it’s not known if Ruud, who played against the Saints twice a year in his first six NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be familiar enough with it to play in Saturday night’s exhibition game with the Houston Texans.
With only one practice under his belt and one more full workout on Thursday before a Friday walkthrough, interim coach Joe Vitt said it’s doubtful Ruud will be able to do much against the Texans.
“We don’t think so,” Vitt said when asked if he’ll play. “We will see where he is (Thursday). We don’t think so.”
Ruud, who was obtained to help out an injury-depleted linebacker corps, said he didn’t know what the plans are for Saturday yet.
“They haven’t really told me,” he said. “They said, ‘Hey, just come in and learn what you can.’ I’ll let them control the rest. I’m just trying to pick it up as much as I can.
“I’m obviously way behind. These guys have had a three-month head start learning it. So I’ve got to play catch up and just go with it.”
Humber to the sideline
The Saints had to send an undisclosed draft pick to the Seahawks to acquire Ruud because their linebacking corps took a major hit with three injuries in Friday night’s 27-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
They suffered another one in practice Tuesday when Ramon Humber, who was expected to start in the middle against the Texans, pulled his hamstring and will be out about 10 days, Vitt said.
Humber joined starters Curtis Lofton (ankle) and David Hawthorne (knee) and top backup Chris Chamberlain (knee) on the sideline.
Chamberlain is out for the season after being put on injured reserve, but Lofton and Hawthorne could be back soon.
Vitt said Lofton, who would play Saturday night if it were a real game, will be back for Sept. 9 season opener. Vitt said he is hopeful Hawthorne, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee Monday, will be ready as well.
Humber will have a lot of time to heal because he has been suspended for three games by the league for undisclosed reasons.
Who’s in the middle
Vitt joked with reporters when he was asked who’d get the most work at middle linebacker with Lofton and Humber both out.
“Do you have a ticket (to the game)?” Vitt asked. “You will see it.”
When reminded that he mentioned first-year player Lawrence Wilson during his daily news conference on Tuesday, Vitt said, “I did. We will see.”
Meanwhile, Spagnuolo was busy trying to figure out how they’ll manage Saturday night with perhaps only seven linebackers available if Ruud doesn’t play.
“I’ve never been involved (in a situation), where all three ‘Mike’ linebackers were lost at the same time,” Spagnuolo said.
“Usually, one gets hurt and you have two left or two get hurt and you have one left.
“This is a little bit of a struggle and it’s no different than losing a quarterback. He’s the guy in the middle who makes all the calls, so we have to work through that.”
A total of 10 players were not able to participate in Wednesday’s practice.
In addition to Lofton, Hawthorne and Humber, cornerback Jabari Greer (hernia), wide receiver Andy Tanner (ankle), wide receiver Nick Toon (foot), wide receiver Adrian Arrington (knee), defensive tackle Tom Johnson (ankle), cornerback Marquis Johnson (knee) and cornerback Kamaal McIlwain (groin) did not work.
Emphasis on tackling
After two solid preseason games, the tackling was sloppy against the Jaguars, with 10 missed tackles in the first half alone, including eight by the starters.
Both Vitt, who is also the Saints linebackers coach, and Spagnuolo said that was addressed in practice Monday and Tuesday.
“Not very good,” Spagnuolo said of his team’s tackling. “The guys recognized that. We talked about it. (But) talking about it doesn’t do anything.
“This group is one of those groups where when they have something to prove, they usually respond,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens in this game, but I don’t think we can win very many games tackling like we did last Friday.”