METAIRIE, La. – Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was limited during Thursday’s practice, a good sign as the third-year record-breaking player tries to get ready ahead of Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
Graham sprained his right ankle in the San Diego and though he returned, wasn’t a factor in the second half of that game.
“You always want to have your best players so we hope we’re going to have him,” Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said. “If we don’t, then we just have to adjust accordingly with trying to get our best players on the field and using different personnel groups and ways to get other guys the ball.”
Kromer said Graham is a mismatch, meaning if he doesn’t play, the Saints lose an advantage on offense.
That said, Graham has the ability to not be full during the week and still play on Sunday.
“Jimmy is mentally ready and he’s a very tough guy,” Kromer said, “so pain doesn’t affect him. You saw him playing after he hurt his ankle in the game. Those kinds of things won’t affect him. He’ll know the game plan.”
Meanwhile, linebacker David Hawthorne (right hamstring) missed his eighth straight practice and was the only player to miss practice with an injury. Linebacker Scott Shanle missed for the second consecutive day with an illness.
Cornerback Jabari Greer (right groin), running back Travaris Cadet (right shoulder), right guard Jahri Evans (left big toe), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), defensive end Turk McBride (left ankle) and receiver Lance Moore (right hamstring) all were full.
And then there’s linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who remains on the physically unable to perform list as he tries to show the coaching staff that he’s healthy enough to play. He has spent the past few months rehabilitating from left knee surgery.
Thursday, Kromer said Vilma looked good.
“He’s running around well,” Kromer said. “He’s physically ready. H e has made some plays in practice that you’re impressed with. We’re excited and hoping he’s ready.”