CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Getting leapfrogged by a former teammate couldn’t have been what Roman Harper had in mind in his first game against New Orleans since the Saints released him in the offseason.
Jimmy Graham hurdled the Panthers safety after making a catch along the left sideline in the first quarter Thursday night. Harper’s flailing arms couldn’t prevent the 6-foot-7 tight end from clearing the 6-1 Harper. Josh Norman eventually tackled Graham following an 18-yard gain to the Carolina 17.
Video of the leap soon began to pop up on social media sites.
The drive ended three plays later when Dwan Edwards intercepted Drew Brees on a deflected pass.
A second-round pick in 2006, the 31-year-old Harper spent eight seasons with the Saints and was selected to two Pro Bowls. But he missed seven games with a knee injury in 2013, the same year New Orleans drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round.
Harper signed with the Saints’ division rival in March, providing needed leadership to a young secondary.
Ingram’s big month
Mark Ingram’s big October could set himself up for a big payday come the offseason.
Ingram’s two touchdown runs Thursday night gave him a career-high six in five games played this season. He had five TDs in 2011 and 2012 before being limited to one last season.
Both of the TD runs were from 3 yards, including with 5:30 left to put New Orleans ahead 28-10.
Ingram won the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award on Thursday after rushing for more carries (24) and yards (172) against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night than he ever had since entering the NFL as one of the Saints’ first-round draft choices in 2011. It was the most productive outing by a Saints running back since 2003.
The 24-year-old Ingram is set to become a free agent in the offseason after New Orleans declined to pick up his fifth-year option.
Brees’ leaping touchdown on fourth down in the third quarter was the first of the season on the ground and the 13th of his career.
Brees had a career-high three rushing touchdowns last season. The longest run of his career is 22 yards in 2004.
Stills, Strief banged up
Saints receiver Kenny Stills suffered a groin injury in the third quarter. Stills led New Orleans with five catches for 72 yards before getting hurt.
Tackle Zach Strief was also sidelined with a back injury in the fourth quarter.
When Thomas Morstead trotted out to punt on the first play of the second quarter, it was the first time he’d been on the field in six quarters.
Morstead never had to punt in the Saints’ 44-23 rout of Green Bay on Sunday. His last punt came with 4:31 left in the third quarter against Detroit on Oct. 19.
Graham’s kicking recognized
No special teams player was better than Saints kicker Shayne Graham was in the NFC for the month of October, the NFL announced Thursday morning.
The 14-year-veteran earned the first Special Teams Player of the Month of his career after going 9-of-9 on field goals and 9-of-9 on extra points kicked in three games the Saints have played in October, two of which they won.
He was the only player to convert at least three kicks in every game his team played between Weeks 5 and 8 of the NFL season.
Crabtree cut, Davis promoted
The Saints cut tight end Tom Crabtree shortly before the Carolina game Thursday night and promoted undrafted rookie linebacker Todd Davis from the practice squad. Davis already played in one game this year: a 24-23 defeat at Detroit on Oct. 19.
Davis returned to the practice squad for two games before he was brought back. He dressed against Carolina.