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New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) on the field before kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, December 23, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

Marcus Davenport never got back up to full strength after a strong start to the season.

The New Orleans Saints rookie defensive end revealed Tuesday that he had an apparent procedure and was playing through pain down the stretch of the season.

"Most people don't know but I had been dealing with what was considered a season ending injury," Davenport wrote on Twitter. "Lucky I was able to play through the pain and although not a 100 % I finish the season. I promise to come back better. Thank you to all that supported."

In the photo Davenport posted to Twitter, he is laying in a hospital bed, with his right foot heavily wrapped, which suggests he is still dealing with the same injury that sidelined him during the season.

The first-round pick suffered a toe injury on his right foot during an October game against the Minnesota Vikings while sacking Kirk Cousins. He missed the next three games before returning against the Atlanta Falcons.

Davenport was never quite the same after suffering the injury. He had four sacks at the time of his injury, but only added shared credit for another one the rest of the way.

The Saints made a big move to acquire Davenport by trading their first-round picks in 2018 and 2019 to the Green Bay Packers to move up and select him. Though he was considered a "raw" prospect coming out of the draft, he was showing rapid improvement before his injury.

The team remains optimistic about his development and expect him to make significant improvement this offseason now that he knows what areas to focus on to get better.

It could be needed since New Orleans might have some holes to plug within its pass rush next season.

With Alex Okafor expected to opt out of his contract, Davenport could be leaned upon to play a more significant role next season if Okafor signs elsewhere. The veteran often played ahead of Davenport this season and finished with four sacks.

Sheldon Rankins could also miss some time after suffering an Achilles injury during the playoffs. The defensive tackle emerged as a significant piece of the pass rush this season and will need to have his production accounted for if the defensive line wants to maintain the same level of play.


Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​