By the time he met with reporters Wednesday, second-year Saints receiver Kenny Stills had accepted that strengthening the quadriceps muscle he’s hurt three times in the past couple months would be a primary focus for him throughout the season.
The ideal way to heal that lingering injury is to not do anything.
“But there’s no time I’m not doing anything,” Stills said.
So the next best option is to concentrate on strengthening it with the training staff — especially with the Week 1 opener at Atlanta at noon Sunday fast approaching.
Stills didn’t reveal what sort of chance he’s been given of being ready for Sunday.
“I just do what I’m told,” he remarked. “If they want me out there, I’ll be out there; if not, then I won’t be.”
If he’s not available Sunday, Stills said the Saints have a more-than-adequate corps of pass catchers in All-Pro Jimmy Graham, veteran Marques Colston, running back Pierre Thomas and rookie Brandin Cooks, along with Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and Robert Meachem.
“We’ve got plenty of guys at the skill positions that can make big plays (through the air) for us,” Stills said. “I know they’re going to be prepared when their time comes, too.”
Stills did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Fullback Erik Lorig (ankle) and safety Marcus Ball (hamstring) also sat the session out.
Fortt disappointed to start on IR
Saints rookie linebacker Khairi Fortt couldn’t hide his disappointment Wednesday after being notified he’d be placed on short-term injured reserve to begin the season.
“I’ve been working my whole life to get to this point where I could finally play my first official game in the NFL,” said Fortt, who hurt a hamstring in the Saints’ second preseason game Aug. 15. “I’ve been battling this hamstring issue which will probably be good in the next week or two, but I know they’re just taking a precaution.”
New Orleans’ decision to put Fortt on short-term IR keeps him out of practice for 42 days, or six weeks. It sidelines him from games for eight weeks.
That means he’d be eligible to play in the seventh game of the Saints’ season, which is at Carolina on Oct. 30.
Whenever Fortt begins practicing again, the Saints will have three weeks to determine whether they’ll send him to their season-ending injured reserve or put him on the active 53-man roster. Of course, as with any player who has not accumulated at least four years of NFL experience, Fortt could be waived.
Fortt had one tackle in the preseason for the Saints before he hurt his hamstring. The Saints included him in the first 53-man roster they handed to the NFL on Saturday; but then they gave his spot to veteran wide receiver Robert Meachem, whom they released over the weekend.
“There’s a little uncertainty to where he is at, just in regards to the amount of snaps he had or was limited to based on the injury,” coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. “We think he has a chance to develop into a good young player, and yet it is still kind of an incomplete if you will with regards to the evaluation.”
The Saints hope that they never face a situation in which Drew Brees and Luke McCown go down on the same afternoon. But if things get to that point, the team would have to turn to a positional player to handle the most important position in football.
That man used to be Lance Moore, but the wide receiver signed with Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason. So at some point during the last few days, the New Orleans coaching staff looked over its roster to see if anyone else has experience playing quarterback.
The two names they came up with were running back Travaris Cadet and safety Jairus Byrd.
“Jairus Byrd’s numbers were better, but Travaris played in college,” Payton said. “So probably Travaris would be someone to handle that role. We just recently did that and talked about it.”
Cadet completed 20 of 36 passes for 241 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while at Appalachian State. He was also sacked five times. Byrd completed 65 of 126 passes for 1,038 yards as a senior in high school.
The Saints will spend time Friday practicing emergency situations to make sure the players slated to slide in at quarterback, kicker, punter, and snapper are prepared if the men in front of them ever go down.