Darren Sproles Knee Injury Is Not a Big Deal for the New Orleans Saints

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystAugust 14, 2012

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 5: Linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals tackles running back Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints during first quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium on August 5, 2012 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

After an offseason filled with player bounty scandals, suspensions, contract squabbles and other distractions of every size and shape imaginable, the last thing the New Orleans Saints need right now is for one of their most important offensive players to go down with an injury.

With that said, it was understandable when the news broke that running back Darren Sproles would miss the team's third preseason game with "soreness" in his knee that the inhabitants of Who Dat Nation let out an audible gasp.

Deep breaths, folks. Deep breaths.

As Kristian Garic of WWL-Radio reported, the 29-year-old Sproles, who set an NFL record with 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011, "tweaked" his knee in last week's preseason tilt against the New England Patriots. The eight-year veteran will sit out this week's exhibition matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a precaution.

However, interim head coach Joe Vitt told the Associated Press via ESPN that Sproles could play if this were the regular season, so it appears that this simply is a matter of the Saints being smart and not risking further injury to one of their offensive linchpins in a game that doesn't count.

In fact, although the Saints are certainly breathing a sigh of relief that the injury isn't serious, the fact is that if there's one spot where the team is best equipped to absorb an early injury, it's likely at running back.

Sure, the loss of Sproles for any real amount of time would be a huge blow, especially on special teams and in the passing game.

However, the Saints also have 2011 first-rounder Mark Ingram, veteran Pierre Thomas, third-year pro Chris Ivory and rookies Travaris Cadet and Joe Banyard behind Sproles, making them quite possibly the deepest team in the National Football League at the running back position.

Cadet in particular seems to be getting off on the right foot in the NFL, as the former Appalachian State standout has made a very favorable impression on a number of veterans, including Thomas, according to WWL-TV.

“I think he has a lot of talent,” Thomas said. “He’s shown he has a lot of talent, a lot of skills and the talent that we need for him to possess in this offense. He has been doing a great job.”

So while an offseason of drama rolls on that includes a Huffington Post report that general manager Mickey Loomis has been cleared by the state of Louisiana in regards to the alleged wiretapping of opposing coaches, it appears that where Darren Sproles is concerned, the Saints have dodged a bullet.

Deep breaths, folks. Deep breaths.