After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham trained in a limited capacity Friday, but he remains questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the team said.
Graham didn’t address the media this week. He was seen stretching and participating in individual drills Friday. He also jogged, intermittently ran at top speed and leapt for at least one catch during a portion of the drills that was open to the media.
Coach Sean Payton said the Saints (5-1) would continue to evaluate Graham before making a final decision on his availability vs. the Bills (3-4).
Other Saints who are questionable include defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle), who leads the Saints in sacks with five; right tackle Zach Strief (ankle); and running back Mark Ingram (toe).
The Saints ruled out defensive end Tyrunn Walker, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Rod Sweeting. Wide receiver Lance Moore, who’s missed the past three games with a hand injury, is probable after fully practicing all week.
Graham — who leads the Saints with 37 catches for 593 yards and six touchdowns — came up limping after Drew Brees threw an interception early in the fourth quarter of New Orleans’ 30-27 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 13. Brees’ pass was intended for Graham.
According to multiple media reports, Graham had an MRI on his foot last week, during which the Saints had a bye.
Jordan and Strief were limited in team drills Thursday and Friday with ankle injuries after sitting out Wednesday. Ingram was limited on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile, as expected, the Bills ruled out quarterback E.J. Manuel (knee), who sprained a knee ligament in Week 5. Running back C.J. Spiller (ankle) and linebacker Manny Lawson (hamstring) are doubtful. Running back Fred Jackson (knee) and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles) are probable.
Ingram talks recovery
Ingram said Friday he used to find it unbelievable whenever players missed time with injured toes — until he hurt a big toe during his team’s win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 15 and sat out the next four games.
“That big toe will sit you down,” Ingram said. “It’s everything. You can’t walk if your big toe hurts.”
But things seemed to be looking up for Ingram on Friday. He told media after practice: “I felt real good, the best I’ve felt since having the injury. It just felt good to be out there, running around with teammates.”
Ingram appeared to be in a jovial mood while talking to reporters about his recovery, which the third-year running back said he’s been careful to not rush. Ingram pointed out that his current injury is not at all similar to the one that cut his rookie season short.
“It’s nothing like that last one,” said Ingram, who is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (3-4) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “The last one required surgery.”
Ingram added that he spent his bye week in New Orleans getting treatment, staying off his feet and “just trying to be healthy” before training with the team on Monday and Friday.
The Saints haven’t needed Ingram (31 yards on 17 carries this year) to hurry his rehab. At running back for the Saints, rookie Khiry Robinson has rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries; Darren Sproles has 484 combined rushing and receiving yards and two TDs; Pierre Thomas has 383 combined rushing and receiving yards and two TDs; and even second-year man Travaris Cadet, rarely called upon on offense, has chipped in with a TD.
Nonetheless, Ingram said: “I want to be out there. If I’m 100 percent, I’ll be out there.”
Ingram, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, joked that he wouldn’t wish his toe injury upon his worst enemy: an Auburn fan.
Ryan wary of Jackson
It was of little consolation to Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that the Bills listed Spiller (90 carries for 362 yards and a touchdown) as doubtful. He said he just doesn’t see how Spiller’s potential absence will spell trouble for Jackson, who’s got 86 carries for 380 yards and five TDs and can still count on help from Bills running back Tashard Choice, who averages 3.6 yards per carry.
“I’m ... one of the biggest Jackson fans around,” Ryan said. “If Spiller ... doesn’t play, they’ve got an All-Pro right there behind him. ... Jackson does everything well. He runs, he catches, he blocks. He’s tough.”
Jackson wasn’t the only Bills player to draw Ryan’s praise. So did quarterback Thad Lewis, promoted from the practice squad to start in place of Manuel, who sprained a knee ligament in Week 5. Lewis, in his third year in the NFL, is 1-1 as a Bills starter, going 40-of-64 for 418 yards, two TDs and a pick.
Ryan said the Saints studied Lewis’ film from the preseason as well as Weeks 6 and 7, a 27-24 win against Cincinnati and a 23-21 win at Miami, respectively.
“He actually looks like he’s playing better in the real season than the preseason,” Ryan said. “He has got a lot of confidence. He has taken some big hits and stands in there. This guy is pretty darned impressive.”
Dombrowski to appear
Former Saints guard Jim Dombrowski will appear at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum in the Superdome from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Dombrowski played 11 seasons with the Saints and was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2003.
Located at Gate B of the Superdome’s Plaza level, the museum is open three hours prior to and for 45 minutes after each home game. Admission is free for game ticket holders.