Oct 13, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Saints Outlook: Burning Questions

Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) rushes with the ball during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

It may not officially be Week 8 on the schedule, but the Saints have already started preparing for the visiting Bills on Sunday. So, I’ve been sitting here, thinking about some things that are transpiring for the 5-1 Saints, and have thought up a few things that have me wondering. Maybe they’ve even come across your mind at one point or another recently. We’ll look at a few areas the Saints will have questions as this week progresses.

What happens if Lance Moore plays or doesn’t play this week?

Lance Moore hasn’t played since Week 3 against the Cardinals, and we thought he might get a chance to play in the Patriots game. Moore was listed as questionable, despite not practicing all week, but did not play. Should he miss another week, you can’t help but wonder if this wrist injury is more serious than normal, and we hope it doesn’t mean surgery. However, we will know more later this week.

If Moore plays, who sits?

This is a loaded question. It’s going to depend on Jimmy Graham’s status in my opinion. If Graham takes a seat, that means the Saints would be with Benjamin Watson & Josh Hill. Being that Drew Brees would need his weapons, I don’t think any of the receivers sit. However, should Moore & Graham play, I’d expect Nick Toon to take a seat because of Robert Meachem’s run blocking.

Does Mark Ingram come back this week?

I don’t really see it happening, unless he is fully healthy. There’s been zero reason to have come back in all honesty. Ingram hasn’t played since Week 2 against the Bucs, and had already faced a ton of criticism for his play. The fact that Khiry Robinson has adequately stepped in, and has performed accordingly doesn’t help things. There’s no rush for Ingram to come back, that’s for sure.

If Ingram comes back, who is going to take a seat?

You can’t knock the play of Khiry Robinson. Robinson has played in all four games since the exit of Ingram, and has 26 carries for 137 yards (5.3 average), and got his first touchdown of his career last week against the Patriots. We saw him get active any way he could in the first couple of games on Special Teams. Speaking of Special Teams, that’s where it’s tough to tell Travaris Cadet to take a seat. Cadet also got his first career touchdown last week against the Patriots, and has quietly played a big role for the Saints. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ingram would be a healthy inactive for once. IF he plays, you then have to account for who gets the ball. I can’t see equal shares split between Sproles-Thomas-Robinson-Ingram like what was done to begin the season. Cadet seems like the odd man out, but does that mean Khiry goes back to Special Teams?

Any chance that Ingram is traded before the October 29th deadline?

Highly unlikely. Ingram is due $1.386M next season, and his 4-year, $7.417M contract is fully guaranteed. If teams were interested, there would have been more movement by now. However, there’s always room for a shocker. If this doesn’t get done, look for a potential draft day move (May) similar to Chris Ivory. Just keep this in mind. Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Travaris Cadet are all due to become free agents in 2015. Cadet will be a Restricted Free Agent.

Jonathan Vilma is practicing again, what happens when he comes back?

In case you missed it, Vilma started practicing today. There’s no set time-table for Vilma here. Since he was put on IR, designated to return. If he comes back in the picture, the earliest he would be able to play is against the Jets (irony?) in Week 9. Here’s where it gets sticky. If Vilma (or Butler) do come back, who gets cut? Not only this, but where does Vilma go? David Hawthorne & Curtis Lofton have done an exceptional job on the inside this season, and there’s not much reason to replace them at this point. Rob Ryan has a knack for finding somewhere to put his personnel, so if Vilma suits up, I’m sure we will find out where the Saints plan on using him.

Any chance for Victor Butler to come back this season?

Under the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) rules, a player is eligible to return to practice (which is actually today) during Week 7. If the player returns, they have 3 weeks to place him on the active roster, or he will be placed on injured reserve. If said player returns to practice on October 21st, they must be decisioned by November 11th. If a player does not practice until November 11th, then the deadline to activate that player would be December 2nd, or he would placed in injured reserve.

That being said, Victor Butler isn’t nearly ready for action, yet. It’s an absolute long shot to see Butler suit up this season, but he’s there for a postseason run, should he be needed. I wouldn’t exactly rule him out, but coming off an ACL injury in July, it would be an amazing recovery to play after just 5 months.

Is Jimmy Graham coming back this week?

Reply hazy, ask again Friday. In case you missed it, check out this morning’s article.

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Tags: Jimmy Graham Jonathan Vilma Lance Moore Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints Victor Butler

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