The status of New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham remained in question Wednesday when he did not participate in practice as the team continued preparing for Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills.
Graham hurt his left foot early in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ last game with the New England Patriots on Oct. 13 and later returned to the field after being examined on the sideline.
But Graham, who did not have a catch for the first time since his rookie season in 2010, left for good and eventually was sent to the locker room before the end of the game.
Saints coach Sean Payton, who no longer talks about injuries, was asked about Graham’s chances of playing this week during his conference call with Buffalo reporters on Wednesday.
“Yeah, I’ll never get into chances,” Payton said. “He’s someone who I think is doing well. We’ll just take a peek (each day) on how he’s progressing and be smart.”
The Saints did get some positive news on the injury front when wide receiver Lance Moore had full participation in practice after missing the past three games with a hand injury.
“It was just good to be back around your teammates … it was fun,” Moore said. “The hand feels good. I’m not really thinking about it at all while I’m out there, and that’s definitely an encouraging thing and a positive sign.”
Moore, who often talked about how tough it was to watch his teammates practice and play without him, said he hopes to play Sunday.
“It just doesn’t seem to get easier,” he said of missing games. “Each game kind of stings a little bit more, but I’m trying to work my way back in there, and hopefully, get some time this week.”
Counting Graham, seven players did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Also not working were DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), T Zach Strief (ankle), CB Jabari Greer (not injury-related), SS Roman Harper (knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee).
FS Malcolm Jenkins (back) and CB Rod Sweeting (hip) had full participation.
For the Bills, QB E.J. Manuel (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (ankle), DT Kyle Williams (Achilles), RB Fred Jackson (knee) and LB Manny Lawson (hamstring) did not practice. Williams is a former LSU standout.
Back to work
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said the players came back from a full week off for their bye refreshed and ready to work when they reconvened for a bonus practice Monday.
He said that continued Wednesday when they started ramping up the preps for Sunday’s game with the Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“Guys were refreshed and they were flying around,” he said. “These were some physical practices, which is good. We had all that time off and were able to refresh mentally and physically, so it great to see that.”
Quarterback Ryan Griffin spent his first day on the Saints’ 53-man active roster Wednesday after the team promoted him from the practice squad to keep him from being signed by the St. Louis Rams.
Griffin reportedly was being pursued by several teams, but he declined to say who else was interested or give any details of how it all unfolded.
“It’s a great opportunity, and obviously, I appreciate the bump and getting moved up to the active roster,” said Griffin, a former Tulane standout who joined the Saints as an undrafted free agent this spring.
When asked what it says about the confidence Payton has in him, Griffin said, “We just talked about, you know, kind of how he sees me in the future and where he sees me at. It was very encouraging.”
Griffin will receive a nice corresponding bump in pay, making the rookie minimum of $405,000 ($22,500 per game) as opposed to the minimum of $6,000 practice squad players receive each week.
Earning his stripes
Brees was pleased to see Griffin get a chance to be on the active roster after he was impressive during the spring and in training camp.
“For a young quarterback who has worked as hard as he has, it’s a great reward,” Brees said. “We were really impressed with him in the offseason — all the quarterbacks. We were sitting back watching the young buck work at times … and it was fun to watch.
“He’s pretty calm, cool and collected, and just continued to get better each day,” he added. “He makes great (protein) shakes in the weight room and he gets donuts when he’s supposed to do that. … He’s been a good rookie.”
Former Saints linebacker Martez Wilson, who was cut Tuesday to create a roster spot for Griffin, was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Raiders.
On Wednesday, Payton said he was certain Wilson would get an opportunity with another team before he was awarded to the Raiders.
“I think overall it was just trying to pay attention to production, and really, it was as simple as that,” Payton said of Wilson, a 2011 third-round draft pick. “I know he’ll have another opportunity, and you want to see him do well. Those are decisions that are tough oftentimes during the season.”
The Saints added linebacker Kyle Knox to take the practice squad spot vacated by Griffin when he was signed to the active roster.