METAIRIE, La. — The Saints placed officially placed Will Smith on injured reserve, ending the experiment that had him working as an outside linebacker before the regular season even began.
The move was one of seven made by New Orleans on Tuesday to get to the NFL mandated 75-player roster by 3 p.m.
“It’s disappointing,” coach Sean Payton said of losing Smith for the season. “I know he’s frustrated because he put a lot of work in this offseason to get No. 1, his weight where he wants it, and then the position change. He was handling all that well. It’s frustrating and I’m disappointed for him.”
To make up for losing Smith, Payton announced the team’s acquisition of Parys Haralson from San Francisco via a trade. Terms of the move weren’t disclosed. Haralson will go through a physical Tuesday night before officially becoming a member of the Saints.
Still, Payton appears high on the outside linebacker who could vie for starting spot immediately.
“He has had a lot of experience as a starter there,” Payton said. “He’s strong at the point of attack. He’s experienced in this system and he’s experienced and had success with a very good defense.”
Linebacker Chris Chamberlain (undisclosed) and receiver Joe Morgan (left knee) both joined Smith on IR while linebacker Victor Butler (left knee) was designated on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.
Placing Butler on PUP is less about thinking he’s close to ready as much as it is that it’s the next logical move for him.
“We don’t have to because he started on PUP,” Payton said. “It’s not really a decision as much as it makes sense right now.”
Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Eric Martin, receiver Tim Toone and safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah were waived.
New Orleans also picked up cornerback Jumal Rolle off waivers from Buffalo.
The biggest issue for the Saints right now is at linebacker, however. Heading into Thursday night’s preseason finale at Miami, only two outside linebackers listed on the roster are healthy now that Smith is done.
Both Junior Galette and Martez Wilson haven’t practiced Aug. 7 and July 29, respectively. That leaves only Baraka Atkins and Rufus Johnson as healthy players at the position. Additionally, Jay Richardson has played at both outside linebacker and defensive this preseason.
Wilson, for his part, believes that he’ll be ready by next week, having worked for the past two weeks with a brace supporting his dislocated left elbow.
“I actually like the brace so I think it’s going to help me with some confidence as far as my (left) elbow,” Wilson said.
Smith, the longest-tenured Saints player having been with the team since 2004, will still be around, helping the younger teammates, quarterback Drew Brees said.
“Unfortunately, you suffer an injury like that on a freak play in the preseason and you hate to see a guy like that go down,” Brees said. “I know his leadership is still going to be there. He’s still very influential with the young that we have up front. He’ll still be a part of this team.”