By Sheldon mickles
September 07, 2012
“I can only assume and hope that it has come from coming to work with the right attitude and trying to do things right. It’s a surprise because there’s so many good guys in this locker room and so many guys that, if they were named, would do just as good a job or better than I can.” Zach Strief, on being elected team captain
METAIRIE — The New Orleans Saints appear to be getting healthy just in time for the regular season and their opener Sunday against the Washington Redskins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
While interim coach Aaron Kromer wasn’t required to give an injury report Monday because the Saints had a bonus practice, a lengthy list of players who missed time in training camp and exhibition games has dwindled.
Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who sprained his left ankle in an Aug. 17 preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the only player who didn’t participate in the portion of practice that was open to the media.
Lofton, however, said after practice that he’ll be ready for the Redskins. That echoes what he said after being injured when he vowed to play in the opener.
“I’m playing … I’ll be out there,” he said. “Today was an extra (practice) day, so just another day of rest. As of Wednesday, I’m ready to go.”
The Saints will be off Tuesday before starting their normal game week routine Wednesday.
Greer, Hawthorne back
Returning to practice Monday were weakside linebacker David Hawthorne, who had his left knee scoped Aug. 20, and cornerback Jabari Greer and wide receiver Adrian Arrington, who both missed all five preseason games.
Greer has been sidelined since having sports hernia surgery Aug. 2, and Arrington had knee surgery Aug. 13.
Hawthorne said he was able to get back on the field and run around and do some things for the first time in two weeks, but doesn’t know yet if he’ll be ready Sunday.
“I’m doing everything in my power to get back,” he said. “I was able to go out there and run around and get back in the swing of things. Our bodies are going to always tell us to get out there, but we’ll gauge it … we’ll see.”
“Feeling good. Feeling great. Feeling wonderful,” Greer said about his return to practice. “I’m ready to go, man, it’s been a long process.
“It was good being out there today and hearing the oohs and aahs and just feeling the appreciation from the guys knowing they actually did miss me and didn’t forget about me. That made me feel special.”
Kromer said the Saints elected their season-long captains at a team meal Sunday night.
Quarterback Drew Brees and tackle Zach Strief were voted to lead the offense, while safeties Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins got the nod on defense. Wide receiver Courtney Roby, who has been one of the Saints’ top players on kick coverage, was the pick for special teams.
Strief, who is only in his second year as a starter, said his selection came as a big surprise.
“I’m not a super vocal, rah-rah kind of guy, so I can only assume and hope that it has come from coming to work with the right attitude and trying to do things right,” he said. “It’s a surprise because there’s so many good guys in this locker room and so many guys that, if they were named, would do just as good a job or better than I can.”
Loaded at halfback
Kromer, whose title is offensive line coach/running game coordinator, laughed when asked if he thought they would ever keep five halfbacks on the 53-man roster.
“You can dream, can’t you?” a smiling Kromer said.
Kromer said it was a hard decision to keep both Chris Ivory and rookie Travaris Cadet — at the expense of another position — in a backfield that already includes Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram, but said it was a smart decision.
“That is what (General Manager) Mickey Loomis and (director of pro scouting) Ryan Pace do,” he said. “They say, ‘Who are the best football players we can keep on this team? We will find a way to use them.’
“There is no way you are going to let some of these guys out of the building even if it’s one more in a position you’re loaded in. You need to keep good players.”
Kromer said rookie wide receiver Nick Toon, a fourth-round draft pick, probably will need to undergo surgery on his foot.
Toon hurt his left foot in the first week of training camp and missed the first four preseason games before returning for the exhibition finale at Tennessee on Thursday. He had two receptions for 6 yards, but was put on injured reserve a day later when the team trimmed its roster to 53 players.
When asked if Toon aggravated the injury in the game, Kromer said, “No. Same thing, he’s just hurt.”