The New Orleans Saints were busy Tuesday on their first full day back from an extended training camp in Oxnard, Calif., a week of practices that were sandwiched between two road exhibition games.
In addition to getting back on the practice field for the first time after giving the team a day off Monday, the Saints coaching staff had to make 10 moves to reach the NFL’s first mandatory roster reduction.
The only shocker among 11 players cut was veteran defensive end Alex Brown, whose contract was terminated. Brown signed with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears in 2010 and had two sacks and 11 quarterback hurries in starting all 16 regular-season games.
Brown, who has started at left end throughout training camp and the first three preseason games, was scheduled to earn $3 million in base salary this season.
The other big roster move for the Saints on Tuesday was the signing of former Carolina Panthers kicker John Kasay.
The 41-year-old Kasay was brought in because Garrett Hartley hurt his right hip in Sunday night’s exhibition game at Oakland and the Saints wanted insurance with their regular-season opener just eight days away.
Guard Roger Allen, linebacker Ezra Butler, wide receiver Jarred Fayson and running back Chris Taylor were waived/injured.
Guard Dan Gay, wide receiver John Chiles, fullback Kolby Hurt, safety DeAndre McDaniel, center Ryan Taylor and cornerback Mark Parson were put on waivers. Gay, a Lafayette native, played basketball and football at St. Thomas More High School.
The decision to release Brown was a hard one, coach Sean Payton said. He said it was made now so Brown, a 10-year veteran, can have a chance to sign with another team before the regular season begins.
“I think you try to factor in all the practice snaps and all of the game film,” Payton said. “It was something that, after going through it all and looking at the timing of it, there’s still that opportunity within this next week that he’ll have a chance to sign with someone else.
“Also, that door is not totally shut if that opportunity presents itself here,” he said. “Nonetheless, it was a hard decision we had to make.”
The Saints selected defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round of the draft this spring, but Jordan has been playing primarily with the second-team defense after missing the first week of training camp.
They also have Will Smith and Jeff Charleston as well as Turk McBride, who they signed during free agency late last month.
“We’re going to have to look closely at our rotation,” Payton said. “Obviously we’re going to substitute a handful of guys in there.”
The signing of Kasay, who has had a long and distinguished career in the NFL, was a surprise as well.
The 18-year veteran has played the past 14 seasons as an original member of the expansion Panthers and has scored 1,823 career points - which ranks second among active players behind Detroit’s Jason Hanson (1,890).
Kasay has connected on 433 of 529 career field-goal attempts for an 81.9 percent success rate after going 25-of-29 with a long of 55 yards last season.
“With his experience, we know the player a little bit more than some of the others because he’s been in our division,” Payton said. “He’s consistent and he’s a veteran player.”
Payton wouldn’t elaborate on the severity of Hartley’s injury, saying that he won’t give another injury update as he’s done for the first four weeks of training camp until he’s required to do so by the NFL on Monday.
“It really doesn’t affect his future,” Payton said of Hartley, “but certainly we have to make sure all of our bases are covered when we make a decision like this. We haven’t put a timetable on (when Hartley will return), but we play in a week and a half so we have to be prepared either way.”
The Saints wrap up their preseason schedule against the Tennessee Titans at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Superdome. After that, they’ll be required to make 27 roster moves by 4 p.m. Saturday to reach the regular-season limit of 53 players so they can continue their preps for the Sept. 8 season opener at Green Bay. ? Payton said DE Will Smith was excused from Tuesday’s practice because of a death in his family.