Given his performance in recent weeks, the shoulder injury Jimmy Graham dealt with earlier this season might feel like a distant memory for those observing games.
But for the man they’re observing, the shoulder is still very much an issue.
The Saints tight end said Friday that he’s still managing the pain in his shoulder “every day” and that it has impacted his blocking this season.
“At times this year the shoulder has really held me back sometimes,” Graham said. “Other times I’m able to fight through the pain. I just got to man up and keep doing it.”
Graham initially injured his shoulder during a Week 5 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming out of a Week 6 bye, Graham was limited to 30 snaps in the next game against the Detroit Lions. He’s not appeared to be limited since.
Graham currently has 65 catches for 670 yards with nine touchdowns this season. He did not record a catch during last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his presence and the fact that he drew double teams on many snaps helped open things up for the offense.
He said that he was fine being held off the stat sheet since he was able to help his teammates get open.
“I just want to have an influence on the game, and have an impact on the game,” Graham said. “I honestly could care less what happens out there as long as we get the (win). It doesn’t matter, any kind of stat line you have — four touchdowns and 15 catches — if you lose.”
If Brandin Cooks did not play an offensive skill position, he believes that he would still be on the field playing. Instead, he’s spending the rest of the season on injured reserve with a thumb injury.
“It’s one of those things that if I was on defense I would probably be playing,” Cooks said. “But since I got to catch the ball and use this hand, it kind of holds me down.”
Cooks has remained around the team facility and is still getting in work outs and lifting weights. He said he is also attending meetings and putting himself through mental reps.
When asked if he has a screw inserted into his hand during his operation, Cooks refused to get into specifics.
Cooks, a first-round pick who had 53 catches for 550 yards with three touchdowns before suffering his injury in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals, said that his current position is frustrating. To get through it, he’s been leaning on his faith and trying to see the bright side of things.
“It happens to so many guys,” Cooks said. “I’ve been so injury free for so long. Thank god it wasn’t my knee or anything.”
The Saints should be at full strength this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Running backs Travaris Cadet (hamstring), Khiry Robinson (forearm), and Mark Ingram (ankle/toe) are all listed as probable for action.
All of the players were full participants in practice except Ingram, who was limited.
On the other side, Carolina has ruled out guard Amini Silatolu (knee) and running back DeAngelo Williams (hand).
Tight end Greg Olsen (knee) is listed as questionable.
The Saints’ outdoor practice field is currently being dug up due to a drainage issue and will not be available for the rest of the season.
Saints coach Sean Payton said the issues were causing mold to form on the surface of the field and that this is normal operating procedure for these types of fields.
He said the surface should be available to use again by the spring.