From now on, take any reports that All-Pro Saints tight end Jimmy Graham might miss a game because he’s hurt with a huge grain of salt.
Graham will be active and available to play at Detroit (4-2) on Sunday despite sustaining a shoulder injury in New Orleans’ Oct. 5 win at home over Tampa Bay and leaving that game early, the team has announced.
The All-Pro tight end missed one practice this week, was limited in two others and on Friday called himself a game-time decision for the Saints (2-3) against the Lions. He said he’d test his shoulder out in warm-ups before the team decided to sideline him or activate him. That’s after an NFL Network report citing an anonymous source early last week said Graham was expected to miss the Saints’ outing in Detroit and at home versus the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 26.
Graham leads the Saints with 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. He played most of last season with a hurt foot and elbow, and he still topped the Saints with 1,215 receiving yards and the NFL with 16 touchdown grabs.
It’s likely Graham’s role will mirror the one he had in a home win against Buffalo last October, when he lined up whenever the Saints were within about 20 yards of the opponent’s goal-line. He caught three passes for two touchdowns on three targets that day.
Meanwhile, after ruling out linebacker Ramon Humber (ankle) and linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle) on Friday, the Saints on Sunday unveiled the rest of their inactives: fullback Erik Lorig, cornerback Patrick Robinson, wide receiver Joseph Morgan, wide receiver Nick Toon and nose tackle Brandon Deaderick.
Lorig returned to practice last week after missing more than two months of action with an ankle injury he sustained at an intrasquad scrimmage in West Virginia on Aug. 2. Robinson has been dealing with a hamstring injury. Toon, Morgan and Deaderick are healthy scratches.
It could be that rookie linebacker Todd Davis — promoted from the practice squad to the active roster after the Saints released tight end Tom Crabtree on Saturday — will rotate in for some snaps on defense. Also, the absence of running back Mark Ingram among the Saints’ inactives means he will be at coach Sean Payton’s disposal for the first time since fracturing his hand in a Week 2 defeat at Cleveland.
As for the Lions, star wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), tight end Eric Ebron (hamstring), tight end Joseph Fauria (ankle) and running back Theo Riddick (hamstring) were ruled out with injuries. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore, defensive end Larry Webster and tackle Garrett Reynolds were healthy scratches.