METAIRIE, La. ― By the time Monday morning rolled around following Sunday’s 16-14 win over Carolina, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton knew one thing – the team was going to need some help at safety.
The Superdome’s home locker room turned into a MASH unit Sunday for Saints safeties.
Starting strong safety Roman Harper? Out with a lingering right hamstring issue.
Backup strong safety and special teams captain Pierson Prioleau? Out with a chest and lung bruise, which eventually hospitalized the veteran.
Third-team strong safety and special teams stalwart Chris Reis? Out with a right shoulder issue, one that will keep him out for at least the Saints’ next game at Arizona.
While Payton said Harper could be back as early as this week, Reis will not be and Prioleau will likely be questionable this week. For now, the only healthy safeties on the roster are Malcolm Jenkins and Usama Young.
With the roster being as such, Payton said he’ll bring in players to tryout to give the team depth at safety until his regulars make their way back.
“They’re going to have to be guys that play in the kicking game I think,” Payton said. “I think that’s going to be important because of attrition to your special teams when you lose some of these different players we’re talking about. You start playing guys that have been core players now.”
Young started training camp at free safety, battling Jenkins for the starting spot while Darren Sharper rehabbed his knee from offseason surgery. Sharper eventually went on the inactive PUP list for the first six weeks of the season.
With both Prioleau and Reis out of the game, Young stepped up and had a career game, finishing with a team-high five tackles and a sack. His four-yard tackle for a loss on the Panthers’ final series was key to the Saints coming up with the stop at the end of the game.
“A lot of it will be how quickly Pierson comes back,” Payton said. “If Pierson Prioleau’s healthy, he’ll work at strong, Usama at the free. We just have to monitor that and see tomorrow. I think we will bring in a couple guys. That’s our plan tomorrow.”
But for now, Prioleau’s health is the foremost concern. He spent the night in the hospital and was released Monday morning. While Payton initially thought it was a concussion, the issue on the field was that Prioleau couldn’t catch his breath.
“Fortunately, the x-rays and all those other things were negative, but yet, something as significant as a lung we’re going to have to be patient,” Payton said. “It would not be long term. It would be a short team (injury).”
Reis, meanwhile, will have an MRI on his right shoulder, which he hurt midway through the third quarter and Payton ruled him out for Sunday already.