NEW ORLEANS ― Ladell Betts last stepped on the floor of the Superdome on Dec. 17, 2006, helping the Redskins to a 16-10 upset of the Saints by running for 119 yards on 22 carries.
Nearly four years later, Betts is back. Only this time, he’s playing for the Saints, not against them.
And he’s not worried about his time with Washington, only his upcoming time with New Orleans.
“That was a good day for us, but it’s a new chapter now,” Betts said Tuesday in his first media gathering since signing with New Orleans on Monday afternoon.
Betts tore the anterior cruciate ligament as well as the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the Redskins’ 7-6 loss to Dallas on Nov. 22. He hasn’t been on a field since.
But his tryout with the Saints more than a week ago went well enough that the Saints are willing to give him a chance after they lost Lynell Hamilton to a torn ACL in a non-contact drill this past Wednesday.
“It went really well,” Betts said. “They basically wanted to see how my knee would up during the workouts, planting and cutting. I’m assuming they like what they saw. I was able to get in and out of my cuts. They said, ‘You look pretty good,’ so they decided to bring me on.”
Betts (5-foot-11, 224 pounds) considers himself a “between the tackles” running back, exactly the style the Saints are in need of to complement Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush.
“Those guys are established,” Betts said. “They’ve been here. They helped this team win last year. I’m just trying to fit in wherever I can. I like to consider myself a between-the-tackles runner. Hopefully once the coaches see what I can do, they’ll use me to my strengths.”
It doesn’t hurt that his background check came up aces for Saints Head Coach Sean Payton.
“With all the research we’ve done on him, he’s a guy that’s very popular with his teammates,” Payton said. “A good all-around football player. He’s versatile.”
Nevertheless, he won’t be seeing playing time anytime soon, Payton said. At least until his rehab and conditioning get to a point the coaching staff is comfortable with.
“He’s coming off an injury so we’ve got to monitor and be smart about how we practice him, especially in these first couple of weeks back with his ACL,” Payton said.
For Betts, just getting a chance is big. As a ninth-year pro, he has rushed for 3,176 yards and 13 touchdowns, he had a career-best 1,154 yards and four touchdowns in 2006. He also can catch the ball, recording 165 catches for 1,505 yards during his career, all with Washington.