It was announced that three starting defensive players are out for this Sunday's match-up with the Washington Redskins. Linebackers Scott Fujita, Strong Saftey Roman Harper, and Cornerback Randall Gay will not be in uniform for the game.
Running Back Aaron Stecker and Defensive Tackle Antwan Lake are also listed as out for the game along side Wide Receiver Marques Colston (who is out 4 to 6 weeks). Backup Middle Linebacker Mark Simoneau is now out for the season with a back injury.
Hopefully Mike Mackenzie will be back up to speed by game time to replace Gay. Simoneau was backing up Jonathan Vilma, and both Stecker and Lake are lower on the depth chart.
A few stand-out special teamers like linebacker Troy Evans, safety Chris Reis, and receiver Devery Henderson are all going to have to prove their worth this weekend by replacing important players.
Evans does look like a solid player and is known for his coverage skills in special teams. This should also help him in zone coverage as well as man coverage at the linebacking postion. Being a special team guy already means he can work well against the run. Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who impressed the Saints brass during training camp, should also get some playing time as well.
Reis, also a reliable special teamer, is a hard hitter that never gives up on a play. He is a solid backup for Harper, who probably would have had a field day defensively against Redskins Quarterback Jason Campbell. Hopefully, Reis can prove himself early in the game; otherwise the team might move Kevin Kaesviharn over from Free Safety and put in Josh Bullocks. Let's just hope that the latter scenario is not explored on Sunday.
And Henderson, well he'll always be Devery. He seems to average at least two key drops a game (and sometimes a fumble) when he gets a good number of looks. Wide Receiver Robert Meachem, who didn't play a down during his rookie season in 2007, will be counted on for both his supposed catching ability and breakaway speed down field. I do believe in Colston's absence that Meachem will flourish and become the perfect counterpart at receiver with Colston, when he returns.
The biggest concern is if Mackenzie is actually 100%. He could very well just get a few snaps early and be used more often in certain game time situations. Cornerbacks Aaron Glenn and Jason Craft looked good in last week's game against Tampa Bay. But we should all be awaiting the return of Usama Young, who could very well be a great corner in the NFL if he could just perfect his abilites in game situations.
Then, there is new Defensive Tackle Alvin McKinley. Has he had enough practice, after being signed during the middle of this week, to have a significant impact on the game? I'm sure he'll be rotated in throughout the game, but will not start this week. It would not surprise me, however, if he eventually becomes the starter along side Sedrick Ellis.
Saints still should win this game, after how an awful mess the Redskins looked during their opening game. But these key injuries could make the game closer than it should actually be.