The New Orleans Saints have re-signed defensive end Jay Richardson, the team said Thursday. The Saints cleared up a roster spot for him by waiving wide receiver Andy Tanner.
Richardson returns to New Orleans as nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley, defensive end Tyrunn Walker and defensive end Glenn Foster are dealing with injuries. Bunkley (calf) and Walker (knee) left the regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday early, and Foster hurt his ankle in the preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 29.
All three missed practice on Wednesday. Foster was inactive for the Falcons game and sat out the practices leading up to it.
Meanwhile, Tanner’s departure from the Saints leaves the wide receiver corps five deep with Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills, Nick Toon and Robert Meachem.
Richardson spent his first three years in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and part of a fourth in Seattle, but he failed to land on a team following 2010. The former Ohio State player obtained a license to sell insurance before reporting to camp with the Saints this preseason as a defensive end. He moved to outside linebacker after injuries to Will Smith, Victor Butler, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson.
Smith is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Butler also tore an ACL and is on the physically unable to perform list for now. Galette (hamstring) and Wilson (elbow) missed all of the preseason games.
Galette returned against Atlanta, but Wilson was inactive.
Richardson, who previously played for Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Oakland for two seasons, had two sacks against the Dolphins and recovered a fumble in the exhibition against Kansas City on Aug. 9. His fumble recovery was one of just four turnovers the Saints forced in the preseason, and it came on the heels of a sack he got in an intrasquad scrimmage a few days earlier.
Nonetheless, the Saints cut Richardson on Aug. 31, the day they unveiled their 53-man roster.
Coach Sean Payton said he told Richardson “you could end up back here soon.”
“Sure enough, it ended up being after Week 1,” Payton said. “He’s very smart. He’s a quick study who knows a lot of different positions. I thought he, in training camp, did a lot of good things.”
Richardson is wearing No. 56. On Wednesday, he tweeted: “God is good.”
Check back with www.theadvocate.com and Friday’s edition of The Advocate for more from Saints camp.