Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) heatedly talks to Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) after a reception in a NFL NFC divisional football playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field in Seattle, Wash. Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014.

Kenny Stills could make his return to the field this week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Saints receiver is listed as probable for Sunday’s game after missing the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons with a quad injury.

Stills told The Advocate he believes he will travel with the team but said a decision on his availability will come from the coaching staff. Stills said Thursday that he has been holding nothing back in practices and feels healthy enough to play.

“Obviously I’m extremely anxious. I haven’t really played since camp,” Stills said. “I want to go out there and play and make the next step and improve from last season. … The injury has kind of been nagging me a while. Hopefully I’m putting it behind me and can go out there and play.”

Stills did not travel to Atlanta last week.

The Saints also listed linebacker Curtis Lofton (shoulder) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee) as probable.

Safety Marcus Ball (hamstring) and fullback Erik Lorig (ankle) have been ruled out.

Stills initially injured his quad in late June. Ball has been out since the second preseason game, and Lorig became injured during an Aug. 2 intrasquad scrimmage.

Lewis and Lofton were banged up last week against Atlanta.

The Browns have ruled out running back Ben Tate (knee). Tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder) and linebacker Barkevious Mingo of LSU (shoulder) are questionable.

Ryan not concerned

Rob Ryan isn’t blind to the faults of his defense. He agrees that the dozen or so tackles the team missed last week were discouraging. But he does not believe the defense has an epidemic on its hands.

The Saints missed an average of 4.8 tackles per game last season, one of the lowest marks in the NFL, and Ryan believes his team will return to form this week against the Cleveland Browns.

“We don’t miss tackles. We were missing tackles,” the defensive coordinator said. “We were missing some checks. Obviously it wasn’t our style.

“We have to give credit to them. They did a great job but believe me, we stress fundamentals every day. I know we’re a better tackling team than that. I know we are going to play great and will be great.”

Tackling was a point of emphasis throughout the week. The team spent time during practice brushing up on fundamentals during the week. Many players, including Lewis, put in extra work after practices to work on their technique.


The Saints were not pleased about squandering two trips to the red zone last week against the Atlanta Falcons, so the team spent a portion of Friday’s practice working on that aspect of the offense. ... Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said Sean Payton called the plays against the Falcons. ... The Saints will host a free Moms Football Safety Clinic on Sept. 15 from 6-8 p.m. at the team’s practice facility located at 5800 Airline Drive. The event is designed to educate mothers about safety issues. General Manager Mickey Loomis, Payton, and other members of the team staff are scheduled to speak at the event. ... Tight end Jimmy Graham refuted an ESPN report stating that he is upset with Drew Brees over comments the quarterback made to USA Today while Graham was engaged in a contract dispute with the team this offseason.