WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. --The New Orleans Saints prized free-agent acquisition Jarius Byrd has been placed on the PUP list, head coach Sean Payton announced after practice Friday.
Payton confirmed what was obvious during the first day of on-field work at the Greenbrier after Byrd was seen donning sweatpants and working off to the side with the strength coaches.
A three-time Pro Bowler with Bufalo, Byrd signed a six-year, $54 million contract during the offseason as the Saints let safety Malcom Jenkins depart for Philadelphia without offering him a new deal. Byrd then had offseason back surgery, causing him to miss most of minicamp and OTAs.
The team is just being cautious, Payton said, and he fully expects Byrd to return to the active roster before the team returns to New Orleans.
'Look we'll work day to day with him. I think the good news is that it's going to be sooner than later,' Payton said after practice. 'I don't want to put a time on it, but I think that his progress is ahead of schedule. Until we take him off PUP, he can't participate in any of the team drills or practice drills so we're still just getting it to where we think it's 100 percent. ...
'It's just a matter of making sure we feel that he's ready to go at 100 percent and there's no risk of injury.'
Byrd spent much of the practice working alongside defensive tackle John Jenkins and rookie tackle Tavon Rooks. Jenkins was placed on the PUP list earlier in the week. Rooks is on the non-football injury list, which is the functional equivalent of the PUP. Players are eligible to return to the active roster at any time during the preseason as long as they don't practice with the team.
Meanwhile, working with the first unit in Byrd's stead was Raphael Bush, whom the Saints resigned during the offseason after division foe, the Atlanta Falcons, made a hard run at the third-year safety.
The Saints were all present and accounted for on Day 1 of training camp, and finished the first session in relatively good shape, except for second-year wide receiver Kenny Stills, who pulled up lameas he ran a go route during team drills.
'He had a tight quad two weeks ago when he was training out in San Diego,' Payton said. 'It's the same right quad and I don't think it's real serious.'
Stills left the field following the injury and didn't return to practice.