Saints could be without key defensive performers v. Rams

METAIRIE - The New Orleans Saints learned they could come back from probable defeat and win a close game last week in their 34-31 overtime victory over Washington, which led 31-16 with less than three minutes to go

This week, the Saints, 8-2 and leading the NFC South, will find out if they can win amid roster adversity when they play at Los Angeles, 7-3 and leading the NFC West. Kickoff is at 3:25 p.m. central time at the Coliseum on CBS.

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Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn't typically talk about injuries, unless they are season-ending, so the only thing to go by is the injury report. 

New Orleans will be without starting right defensive end Alex Okafor, who tore his achilles tendon late in the Washington game and is out for the season, and is not expected to have starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who injured his ankle early against the Redskins and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Starting cornerback Ken Crawley, a second-year player out of Colorado, also missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an abdomen injury, according to the team's injury report. Crawley played all but two snaps of the Washington game.

Okafor, a free agent acquisition from the Arizona Cardinals in his fifth season out of Texas, is second on the team with 43 tackles and with 4.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. Lattimore, the Saints' 2017 first round pick out of Ohio State, is second on the team in interceptions with two, including one return for a touchdown, and eighth in tackles with 36. Crawley, a second-year free agent signee out of Colorado, has one interception and 27 solo tackles on the season.

"That's a tremendous loss," starting left defensive end Cameron Jordan said of Okafor Wednesday after practice. "He came in with so much juice."

Trey Hendrickson, the third of three Saints' third round picks in the 2017 draft out of Florida Atlantic, will start in place of Okafor. Hendrickson had one tackle after replacing Okafor late in the game Sunday. He has 11 tackles and two sacks with a forced fumble in nine games.

"It's not like Trey's coming in cold," Jordan said. "He's been rotating in."

The Saints bolstered their cornerback position in recent days with the addition of well-traveled, seven-year veteran Sterling Moore, who played regularly in 2016 for the Saints but was released just last month, and with Dexter McDougle, a three-year veteran and special teams ace who was released by Philadelphia last week.

"He is one of those players that knows what to do. He is familiar with our system. He has real good instincts," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Moore.

"He is someone that has excelled and played well in the kicking game," Payton said of McDougle. "He's smart and can play inside if you want him to. The snaps you can  get from him is a big plus."

The Saints will have back starting fifth-year strong safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was held out of the Washington game as a precaution. He has missed the last two games after suffering a groin injury against Tampa Bay. He leads the team with three interceptions and has 39 tackles and seven passes defensed.

"I'm 100 percent," Vaccaro said Wednesday after practicing. "I could have played last week."

Starting outside linebacker A.J. Klein is also expected to play Sunday after missing the Washington game with an ankle injury suffered against Buffalo the week prior. He is fifth on the team with 41 tackles and has a forced fumble.

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