Handwerger: New Orleans Saints' trade for LB Barrett Ruud best, only option

Handwerger: New Orleans Saints' trade for LB Barrett Ruud best, only option

Denver Broncos' Virgil Green, bottom, is hit hard by Seattle Seahawks' Barrett Ruud, center,and Korey Toomer, top, after catching the ball in the second half of an NFL football preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in Denver.

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 21 at 3:54 PM

OPINION/ANALYSIS

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

There’s a reason, other than complete boredom, that folks aren’t very fond of preseason football.

The exhibition season can be both costly financially and, as Saints fans are finding out, physically for players.

New Orleans entered Friday’s night’s slumber-fest healthy at linebacker. It left it down three players it could ill-afford to lose.

Chris Chamberlain is gone for the season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. David Hawthorne is likely out 3-6 weeks with a torn meniscus in one of his knees.

And, most importantly, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is out for an undisclosed amount of time with a high ankle sprain.

Add to that Ramon Humber, the top backup at middle linebacker, is set to serve a three-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy and you see that the Saints are in quite the pickle.

Monday night, after acting head coach Joe Vitt hinted at it earlier in the day, the Saints made a move, acquiring middle linebacker Barrett Ruud from Seattle for an undisclosed draft pick.

Ruud led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers four straight seasons in tackles (2007-10). Beginning in 2007, he finished with 169 tackles, then 178, followed by 205 and 161 stops.

The move is a good one; Ruud’s time in Tampa means he’s intimately familiar with the NFC South. He knows the stadiums, the players and the routines.

But he’s not fail-safe. Ruud missed seven games while in Tennessee in 2011 with a groin injury. Thus far into Seattle’s preseason, he missed some time with a knee injury.

Still, with Jonathan Vilma fighting his year-long suspension, Lofton out for an undetermined amount of time and Humber facing a three-game suspension, this gives the Saints experience in the middle.

The trade also was the Saints’ only move. No other linebacker on the roster gave New Orleans a good option with Hawthorne going out at the same time.

If Ruud gets healthy and stays that way, he gives the Saints a viable option that leaves Jonathan Casillas at weakside and Scott Shanle at strong.

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