Saints Cowboys Football

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth) ORG XMIT: TXEG1

The Saints know they will start the season without one key piece of their defensive line with Sheldon Rankins recovering from his torn Achilles.

But will the team also start the season without defensive tackle David Onyemata, who could face disciplinary action from the league after he was cited for allegedly having marijuana delivered to his home in January?

Saints DT David Onyemata cited for illegal marijuana possession at Elmwood apartment

Sean Payton seems optimistic that Onyemata will be with the team for the season opener when the Saints host the Houston Texans.

"We're working under the impression that he's with us," Payton said on Saturday.

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The Saints didn't use any of their five draft picks on a defensive lineman, despite the team also losing tackle Tyeler Davison (Falcons) and end Alex Okafor (Chiefs) in free agency.

The Saints did, however, add defensive linemen Malcom Brown and Mario Edwards in free agency. 

Onyemata, heading into his fourth season with the Saints, is coming off his best season. He recorded 35 tackles and a career-best 4.5 sacks this past season and helped up front on a defense that was second in the league against the run.

"He's doing well," Payton said. "He's in the offseason program, and we'll go from there."

Payton hasn't heard from the league about a possible suspension. 

"I don't know that that's going to happen," Payton said. "But we would always find out before they notify a player."

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Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.