Still no word on status of injured linebackers
Because Monday was what he calls a “bonus day,” New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton wasn’t required to turn in an official practice participation report to the league office.
Consequently, Payton had no update on the status of inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma or outside linebackers Junior Galette and Martez Wilson concerning their availability for Sunday’s season opener with the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
While Galette and Wilson could play after suffering injuries early in training camp and missing all four preseason games, Vilma is in a different situation after arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 15.
When asked about a report over the weekend that said Vilma’s rehab was going well and the 10-year veteran could be on the field for the opener, Payton said he would have more later in the week.
“I think its speculation right now,” Payton said. “We’ll see. I’ll have more when we get to commenting on injured players later in the week.”
The first injury report of the season will be released Wednesday when the players return to practice after a day off Tuesday.
Ready to return
Galette, who suffered a lower leg injury in early August, and Wilson, who dislocated his left elbow on the fourth day of training camp, both said they’re ready to go this week if Payton gives them the OK.
“I think I’m in great shape,” Galette said after practice. “I even ran extra after our conditioning (run) (Monday), so I feel good. It’s Sean’s call to see if I’m going to play or not, but I feel good.”
Galette said he’s not concerned that he hasn’t been able to play in preseason even though he switched positions from defensive end to outside linebacker.
“It’s not my rookie year or second year, I’m a vet now and understand the game quite well,” he said. “We play Atlanta twice a year, so that’s an advantage for me not playing in a preseason game.”
“I’m good. ... I’m ready to play fast and play hard and ready to turn it up,” said Wilson, who noted he could have played in the final preseason game at Miami. “Coach wanted to play it smart. He wanted me to get healthy, and that’s what we did.”
Practice squad set
The Saints filled out their eight-man practice squad Monday by signing outside linebacker Rufus Johnson and tackle Senio Kelemete.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 272-pounder, was the Saints’ sixth-round draft pick who was waived Saturday when they trimmed their roster to the regular-season limit of 53 players.
Kelemete, a fifth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, also was waived Saturday when the Cardinals set their active roster.
The Saints on Sunday signed former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, wide receiver Saalim Hakim, tight end Michael Higgins, fullback Austin Johnson, tackle Marcel Jones and cornerback Jumal Rolle to the practice squad.
Johnson said he returned home to Texas to visit his pregnant fiancée and didn’t return to New Orleans until Monday morning, which is why he didn’t sign Sunday.
As usual, Payton said the final 22 roster moves that had to be made to get the team down to the regular-season limit of 53 players were pretty tough.
“I think they are always difficult because you are wanting to make sure you are getting the right 53 (players),” he said. “You’re wanting to make sure you are making the best decision possible.
“Any time you have had players that you invested a lot of time in — and they have invested a lot of hard work — it’s hard for that to be final and to make that decision.”
Leonhard joins Bills
Safety Jim Leonhard, a nine-year veteran who had his contract terminated by the Saints on Saturday, signed Monday with the Buffalo Bills.
The 30-year-old Leonhard begins his second stint with the Bills. He played his first three seasons in Buffalo after making the roster as an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin in 2005.