METAIRIE, La. The wait is almost over. The New Orleans Saints revamped secondary is finally healthy, and Saturday, will have an opportunity to take the field together for the first time against an opponent.
Head coach Sean Payton had already announced safety Jairus Byrd, the Saints' prized offseason acquisition who had offseason back surgery would play in Indianapolis. However, after Monday's practice in Mandeville, Payton preferred to take a wait-and-see approach with injured cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Patrick Robinson.
Well, come Thursday, he had waited and must have liked what he saw because both, he said, will play against the Colts this weekend.
'The plan is to play them and then more importantly, the correct amount of reps,' Payton said. 'We kind of went through the rolls yesterday, what our goals are, but both those guys will play.'
Bailey has yet to see any preseason action after laboring through much of last season in Denver with a foot injury while playing in just five games. Meanwhile, Robinson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at Tampa Bay last season, has been held out since suffering an undisclosed 'tweek' in practice after the preseason opener in St. Louis.
Nevertheless, both players are vying to start opposite of Keenan Lewis, who, Payton said, will also play after missing two practices this week with an unspecified injury.
'I think it's an ongoing process,' Payton said regarding the competition between Bailey and Robinson. 'It's still just passing the halfway point. So the key is getting them the right amount of playing time both in the base and the nickel and making sure there's enough snaps, and yet again, not too many.'
NEARING A RETURN?: In recent days, linebacker Victor Butler had been seen in a walking boot around the facility. On Thursday, though, he did some light running and agility drills while the team practiced in its indoor facility. Butler hasn't played since tearing his ACL during offseason workouts before last season.
Butler, who followed defensive coordinator Rob Ryan from Dallas to New Orleans in 2013, is in the final year of a two-year, $3 million deal.He was extremely durable in his four seasons with the Cowboys, playing in all but one of the team's 64 games and totaling 50 tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles (two recovered) and four passes defended.
ROSTER MOVES: The Saints waived tight end Je'Ron Hamm, linebacker Chidera Uzo-Diribe, running back Tim Flanders, and wide receiver Tobais Palmer prior to Thursday's practice, Payton announced.
The team did not announce any corresponding moves and, Payton said, will carry 86 players on the roster for now. The team must cut to 75 players by 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The final cut to 53 must be completed by the same time on Aug. 30.
INJURY NOTES: Rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks was without shoulder pads and limited in his return to practice after missing two days with a stomach virus. Payton said he's yet to decide whether Cooks will play in Indianapolis. ... Offensive lineman Ben Grubbs returned after missing the last three practices with an unspecified injury. ... Linebacker Khairi Fortt, safety Marcus Ball, wide receiver Andy Tanner, offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe and defensive back Ty Zimmerman were not present Thursday. ... Cornerback Rod Sweeting did not participate, but was present.