I imagine that very few New Orleans Saints fans know whose picture adorns this article. He's rookie linebacker Stanley Arnoux, the second of two fourth-round draft choices by the Saints, and, unfortunately for Arnoux, the Saints, and their fans, it'll be the last time we see him without crutches or a boot in 2009.
Arnoux tore his Achilles' tendon Friday night during rookie minicamp. It was expected that he would make an immediate impact on special teams and compete for a backup linebacker spot behind Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita.
The Saints hoped that Arnoux would then become a starter after a year in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' system.
Now, Arnoux's progression will be postponed a full year.
Regrettably, Arnoux's injury is just part of a growing litany of injuries experienced by Saints' first and second-year players.
Let's go back to 2003. Jim Haslett, then the head coach, was enamoured with the speed and athleticism of linebacker Cie Grant. The Saints used a third-round pick on the former Ohio State Buckeye. He played in just seven games in his career, all as a rookie, due to injuries to his calf and patella tendon.
Another former Big Ten standout, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, has been bitten multiple times by the injury bug. Ninkovich, the Saints' fifth-round pick in 2006 out of Purdue, showed promise to at least start his career as a pass-rushing specialist.
Ninkovich has been unable to show his potential as a pro because of a pair of season-ending injuries. He tore the ACL in his right knee during the 2006 season and then tore the MCL in his left knee during preseason in 2007.
He was cut by the Saints and picked up by the Miami Dolphins. He has since re-signed with the Saints and is trying to make contributions to the team that drafted him.
New Orleans lost not one, but two defensive draft choices to season-ending injuries last season.
Cornerback Tracy Porter, the Saints' second-round draft choice in 2008 out of Indiana, appeared to be part of the answer to the Saints' secondary woes. He was immediately inserted as a starter and picked off his first career pass against the San Francisco 49ers.
Little did we know that the injury bug would rear its ugly head again, and Porter's season would be over the very next week against Minnesota. Porter injured his wrist after he landed awkwardly while trying to defend a pass. Porter played in just five games after being placed on injured reserve.
DeMario Pressley, a fifth-round pick in 2008 out of North Carolina State, was being counted upon to provide depth at defensive tackle. Pressley, however, fractured his foot in the offseason, and never played a down as a rookie.
The team has done a lot in the draft over the past several seasons to address the defensive depth, and it has yet to work out. These injuries have played a major factor in preventing the defense from rising back to respectability. The Saints haven't been able to develop young players into starters or effective backups because many of their drafts picks spend more time on injured reserve than on the active roster.
The amount of season-ending injuries that have affected the Saints in recent years is beyond ridiculous.
The Saints are cursed.