NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints cornerback Tracy Porter participated in his first practice of training camp Sunday, a sign he might be ahead of schedule recovering from offseason micro-fracture knee surgery.

However, Porter, one of many heroes for the Saints in their Super Bowl XLIV victory against the Indianapolis Colts, is not ready to proclaim himself football ready just yet.

His status for Saturday exhibition game against Houston at Reliant Stadium is expected to be determined later this week. The Texans host the New York Jets on Monday night.

“We’ll be smart with regard to the snaps he gets (in practice) but his rehab has gone well and he’s feeling well and moving around,’’ Saints coach Sean Payton said of Porter. “We’ll monitor his reps in this first week back and put him on a pitch count.’’

“I just want to take it day to day,’’ Porter said after the team’s 90-minute workout at their indoor practice facility. “This is the first day of practice. When you go out and do something, it’s not how it feels that day. It’s how it feels the next day. So, if things are steadily getting better and there isn’t any hiccup in the knee in what I was doing today, and I keep progressing, who knows? They may call me into play Saturday.’’

That said, Porter, of Port Allen, said he felt no sense of urgency to return to the lineup.

“Running and doing drills on the sidelines is one thing and practicing is another thing,’’ Porter said. “But getting out there at game speed is a whole other monster to tackle. So definitely getting back out there and flying around at game speed and reacting to receivers running routes, that’s going to be the test. Until then, you’re going to have that little doubt in your mind. The sooner I can get out there and test it out the better.

The coaches know the type of ability I have and they have confidence in me. The last thing they want me to do is for me to have a sense of urgency and rush me back out there too early and something goes wrong. That is not something we want to do — take all these steps forward and then take 10 steps backward.’’

Porter was one of a handful of comings and goings on Sunday.

Rookie cornerback Johnny Patrick and running back Joique Bell suffered game-related injuries and were not on the practice field. Patrick sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and Bell sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Payton said.

Wide receiver Marques Colston returned to practice after being held out of the 49ers game and missing the previous six practices as a precautionary measure while resting his surgically-repaired right kneecap.

“It felt good to get out there with the guys again and get back in the groove,’’ Colston said.

Practice makes perfect

Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem took a knee to his lower back against the 49ers but refused to use that as an excuse for a couple of dropped passes.

One of those drops came on a post route thrown by quarterback Drew Brees. Meachem said he ran four successful post routes in Sunday’s practice.

“No drops are ever expected,’’ Meachem said. “Being a wide receiver, you never want a dropped ball.’’

Strief works with first unit

Veteran offensive lineman Zach Strief worked mostly at right tackle with the first unit Sunday, suggesting the battle for a starting job with incumbent Jon Stinchcomb is heating up.

Stinchcomb, who had surgery during the offseason to repair a torn left quadriceps, started against the 49ers. Charles Brown, the team’s No. 2 pick in 2010, is also in the mix at right tackle.

“We’re just wanting to make sure we’re continuing to rotate those tackles,” Payton said, adding the move was not necessarily related to Stinchcomb’s surgery. “We went into this camp with the idea that we wanted competition and that was part of the plan when we re-signed (Strief) and certainly part of the plan when we drafted Charles.”

“It’s competition, that’s what it is right now,” Strief said. “There are three of us over there trying to get to one spot that we all want. In training camp, you always have the opportunity to go out and show what you can do and try to prove to the guys who make those decisions that you’re ready and that you need to be the guy. This is just another year of competition.’’


Unrestricted free agent safety Darren Sharper, who has played the past two seasons with the Saints, is scheduled to work out for New England, according to

Injury report

DNP: LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), LB Ramon Humber (quad), LB Clint Ingram (right hamstring), RB Joique Bell (knee), DT Tom Johnson (calf), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), T Alex Barron (knee).