It appears the prize of the New Orleans Saints’ free-agent class will be available for the start of training camp.
Safety Jairus Byrd is on schedule in his recovery from March back surgery and is expected to be available when practices begin Friday at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, a source confirmed. It is not currently known if Byrd will be limited in any way.
Byrd did not participate in organized team activities or minicamp after he and the team decided to have a problematic disk repaired in his back. At the time of the procedure, coach Sean Payton said the operation was optional and that he was hopeful Byrd would be ready in time for training camp.
“It’s been asymptomatic but it’s something we wanted to do, and he as well, to alleviate any issues coming in the fall,” Payton said.
A three-time Pro Bowler with the Buffalo Bills, Byrd signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Saints this offseason. He had 22 interceptions over the past five seasons and forced 11 fumbles.
The Saints are hopeful that the additions of Byrd and cornerback Champ Bailey, who also was signed this offseason, will further solidify a secondary that ranked second in the NFL last season by allowing 194 passing yards per game.
Given the investment and that the season is more than a month away, it would not be surprising if New Orleans errs on the side of caution and slowly eases Byrd back into action in the coming weeks, which should provide him ample time to prepare for the regular season.
Payton previously said Byrd experienced no serious symptoms before signing with the Saints. The safety missed five games last season because of a foot injury. He did not miss any games during the previous three seasons.
In other injury news, it remains unclear if wide receiver Joe Morgan, who is working his way back from an ACL injury suffered during a scrimmage in August, will be available for the start of camp. It could, however, be taken as a positive that Morgan was not among a group of players who were placed on the physically unable to perform list, which includes nose tackle John Jenkins (pectoral) and linebacker Cheta Ozougwu, on Monday.
Morgan did not participate in minicamp and said in June that he was hoping to be ready in time for camp. The wide receiver caught 10 passes for 379 yards in 2012 after missing the 2011 season with a meniscus injury.