N.O. signs Ruud to fill in for injured Hawthorne, Lofton
After having three linebackers go down with injuries in their last game with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New Orleans Saints quickly made a trade Monday night to help shore up that area of the team.
Hours after interim coach Joe Vitt told reporters that starting linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne would be out for a while with injuries, the Saints dealt a undisclosed draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud.
An eight-year veteran, the 6-foot-2, 241-pound Ruud played six seasons with the Tampa Bay Bucs and last year was with the Tennessee Titans before signing with the Seahawks this spring as an unrestricted free agent.
Ruud started 68 games with the Bucs and led them in tackles for four consecutive seasons from 2007-10 — collecting a career-high 205 in 2009 — before starting nine games in 2011 for the Titans.
Lofton, the starter at middle linebacker, came out of Friday’s game with a high-ankle sprain. Hawthorne, who started the first three preseason games on the weak side, suffered a knee injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus.
They join backup Chris Chamberlain, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Jaguars, on the sideline. However, Lofton and Hawthorne are expected to return this season.
According to Vitt, Lofton should be back in time for the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 against the Washington Redskins. Vitt is hopeful that Hawthorne will be ready for that game as well.
“We certainly think Curtis is going to be ready for the first game,” Vitt said during his daily news conference. “The diagnosis on David is encouraging. He hurt it earlier in the game and played on it, so he’s got a chance to be back for that (Washington) game.”
Chamberlain, who tore the ACL in his left knee in the second quarter Friday night, 3Lofton and Hawthorne were all signed as unrestricted free agents this spring to give the Saints some much-needed playmakers at the position.
Humber to help out
With Chamberlain, Lofton and Hawthorne all going down against the Jaguars, the Saints had only eight healthy linebackers available for Monday’s practice.
Only four of the eight — Scott Shanle, Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring and Ramon Humber — have played in an NFL regular-season game. The others are first-year players Ezra Butler and Lawrence Wilson, and undrafted free agents Aaron Tevis and Kadarron Anderson.
Before acquiring Ruud, Vitt said Humber would get a shot to fill Lofton’s spot in the middle. It will be his job to relay calls sent into his helmet radio from defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to his teammates.
Humber, who played in three games with the Saints in 2010 and 13 last season, was signed just last week after not being offered a contract as an unrestricted free agent this winter.
Also thin at wide receiver with Nick Toon, Adrian Arrington and Andy Tanner sidelined by injuries, the Saints signed veteran wideout Greg Camarillo to a one-year contract.
A seven-year veteran, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Camarillo has played with San Diego (2005), Miami (2007-09) and Minnesota (2010-11) with 28 starts in 75 games. He has 142 receptions for 1,686 yards and five touchdowns.
The Saints also put Chamberlain on injured reserve and waived/injured guard/tackle Fenuki Tupou with a torn triceps. Like Chamberlain, Tupou was injured in the game with the Jaguars.
Running back Darren Sproles, who suffered a knee injury in an Aug. 9 preseason game at New England, remained sidelined Monday and isn’t expected back this week, Vitt said.
Among the other players who didn’t participate in practice were Toon (foot), Arrington (knee), Tanner (ankle), defensive end Turk McBride (ankle) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (ankle).
Vitt noted that McBride is close to returning, but said Johnson will be out for another two weeks.
Tough time on turf
In retrospect, Vitt said he probably should have taken the Saints to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a practice before Friday night’s game.
In the first half, the Saints missed 10 tackles and Vitt said it might have served them well to get used to the Superdome’s new turf like suspended coach Sean Payton traditionally did before the first home exhibition game.
“In pregame warm-up, (Jaguars coach) Mike Mularkey was complaining to me about their players falling down,” said Vitt, who said after the game that he didn’t want to make excuses about his team’s sloppy tackling. “But, I do think we got our cleats stuck a couple times and probably should’ve had a practice there first.
“That being said, the tackling has been addressed. The tackling has to get better. We’re going to have tough practices here.”
Gleason on Real Sports
Former Saints safety and special teams star Steve Gleason, who is battling ALS, will be featured in the August installment of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that debuts at 8 p.m. Tuesday on HBO.