Two days after Saints tight end Jimmy Graham hurt his shoulder, the team on Tuesday signed another player at his position: free agent Tom Crabtree.
Crabtree will occupy the roster spot of safety Jairus Byrd, who was officially put on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury on Tuesday. Byrd hurt himself in practice on Thursday and had surgery Friday.
Undrafted out of Miami (Ohio), the 6-foot-5, 244-pound Crabtree played 46 games with the Packers from 2010 to 2012. He had 18 catches for 302 yards and four touchdowns with the Packers, and he won a Super Bowl ring with them following the 2010 season.
Crabtree played seven games with Tampa Bay in 2013 and caught four passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. After signing with the Saints, he will be under tight ends Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill.
Graham, who leads the Saints with 34 receptions for 376 yards and three touchdowns this season, was hurt in the first half of the 2-3 Saints’ 37-31 overtime win at home against Tampa Bay (1-4) on Sunday. An NFL Network report labeled Graham’s injury as a sprained shoulder, but coach Sean Payton has refused to get into specifics about his tight end’s condition.
Watson has nine grabs for 64 yards, and Hill has seven catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Fortt a Bengal
Linebacker Khairi Fortt, who was chosen in the fourth round of the draft in May by the Saints but was waived Monday, is now a Cincinnati Bengal.
The Bengals announced Tuesday that they claimed Fortt from the waiver wire and gave him a roster spot they created by placing linebacker Sean Porter on year-ending injured reserve with a hurt knee.
Fortt, who played at California, spent the preseason with the Saints but hurt a hamstring in New Orleans’ second exhibition after accumulating a lone tackle.
The Saints included him on their initial 53-man roster but placed him on short-term injured reserve to open a spot for wide receiver Robert Meachem, who was released and re-signed by the team before the start of the season.
Fortt was eligible to return to action for a Week 8 game against Green Bay. He had told The Advocate he was disappointed to be on short-term IR after coming relatively close to playing in his first NFL game, and he insisted he could have played if the Saints didn’t shelf him.
Fortt has worked under a dizzying number of coaches since starting his college career: seven.
He went to Penn State out of high school, working with Joe Paterno (2010), interim coach Tom Bradley (2011) and Bill Blankenship (spring 2012).
After the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, he transferred to California, where he played for Jeff Tedford (2012) and Sonny Dykes (2013).
He redshirted in 2012 because of a knee injury and played just one season for the Golden Bears.
California posted an ignominious 1-11 record the one campaign Fortt made it onto the field for the school, though he emerged as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker.
The Saints chose Fortt in the fourth-round of the draft in May, and he came under the command of a sixth head coach since 2010: Payton. Payton said the team was unsure of what it had in Fortt after it put him on short-term IR.
Payton may find out what he had in Fortt watching him play for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are 3-1; and they meet the Saints on Nov. 16 in New Orleans.
Brees up for FedEx Air award
Despite throwing three costly interceptions in the Saints’ win against Tampa Bay, Drew Brees’ 371 yards and two touchdowns passing were enough to land him a FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week nomination on Tuesday.
Brees is up against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning — who was 31-of-47 for 479 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-20 victory against Arizona — and the Rams’ Austin Davis, who passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-28 loss to Philadelphia.
Brees (35-of-57) threw touchdowns to running backs Pierre Thomas and Travaris Cadet against Tampa Bay. However, one of his interceptions resulted in a touchdown drive for Tampa Bay; another was run back for a score; and the third cut short a drive in which New Orleans was driving to set up what would’ve been a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, which could complicate Brees’ chances of winning the award from FedEx.
This is Brees’ first FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week award nomination this season. Fans determine who wins and can go to NFL.com/FedEx to vote for Brees, Manning or Davis.
The Saints on Tuesday worked out other players. Paul Hazel — a reserve in Cleveland in 2013 — worked out at linebacker, where Ramon Humber (ankle) was hurt Sunday; and Kellen Davis was evaluated at tight end, league sources told The Advocate. Davis was a backup on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl team last season. ... Pierre Warren, the undrafted rookie safety who flashed with the Saints this preseason but was waived from the 53-man roster and then released from the practice squad, joined the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad Tuesday.