Saints bring in Phillip Hunt, release Jo-Lonn Dunbar _lowres

Associated Press file photo by Carlos Osorio -- The Saints signed former Lions defensive end Phillip Hunt to help boost their pass rush.

The New Orleans Saints made a move to add to their pass rush by signing Phillip Hunt.

Hunt, who is an edge player, spent time with the Detroit Lions earlier this season, where he appeared in two games and recorded one sack. He was released earlier this month.

To make room for Hunt, the Saints released veteran linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar.

The move will be Hunt’s latest attempt to return to a roster after being knocked out of football in 2013 because of an ACL tear he suffered during the preseason.

Playing for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012, Hunt appeared in 22 games and recorded three sacks. He also had 19 hurries over that span, during which he played 329 snaps.

Before coming to the NFL, Hunt played for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He finished with 16 sacks in 2010.

Hunt (6-feet-0, 248 pounds) was listed as a defensive end in Philadelphia and Detroit, though he could likely play as a strongside linebacker in New Orleans, where the Saints are battling injuries.

Rookie linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha attempted to return from an ankle injury last week against the Washington Redskins but was knocked out of action after nine snaps.

With Kikaha out, the Saints had been using Dunbar in his spot.

The Saints signed Dunbar in late October, and he appeared in three games, logging 47 snaps. He recorded 11 tackles, including one for a loss of yards.

Dunbar first hooked on the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and appeared in 53 games over four seasons. He then left to join the St. Louis Rams.

Hoyer up

The Saints likely will face Houston’s best at quarterback.

Brian Hoyer, who missed the Texans’ win over the Jets last week as he went through the NFL’s concussion protocol, is expected to return to the lineup against the Saints.

“It sounds like he’s out of the protocol as of this morning,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He passed the final test there, and he’ll be our starter on Sunday.”

Hoyer, who found himself caught in a battle for much of the season with departed quarterback Ryan Mallett, has played well for the Texans when he’s in the lineup,

The veteran has completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,704 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, but he’s missed the past game and a half after suffering a concussion against Cincinnati.

Now that he’s back, O’Brien can give a jolt for an offense that has helped Houston on a three-game winning streak.

“I want to see him get back to where he was,” O’Brien said. “He was making good decisions for the team, throwing the ball accurately, doing a really good job on third down, understanding the game plan, doing the job that it takes to win the game ... understanding how the game is going.”


The NFL decided that more people should be able to see the Saints and Panthers play Dec. 6.

Previously scheduled to start at noon, the game has been moved back to a 3:25 p.m. kickoff.

If New Orleans is going to compete for a playoff spot, it will likely need to win the rest of its games, including this date against Carolina.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are undefeated and could be looking to continue that run when they come to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints next play the Houston Texans on the road, while Carolina will play the Cowboys in Dallas.