The Saints have more terrible news on the injury front, and it’s the position that they can least afford to be depleted at.
"ProFootballTalk reported Monday, citing a league source, that outside linebacker Will Smith is expected to miss the 2013 season after suffering a knee injury on Sunday against the Houston Texans."
Smith, 32, now becomes the 3rd Saints player to be lost for the year, joining Victor Butler, and Kenyon Coleman. Butler is not actually ruled out at a return for a posteason run, however, Smith & Coleman are definitely gone.
For Will Smith, it may be the last time he puts on a uniform, at least for the Saints, but we certainly don’t hope so. Smith restructured his contract in the offseason to remain with the Saints, and Sean Payton publicly praised his leadership. He’d be due $10.4M in 2014, and this injury may just make that decision a little easier.
Here’s more as to why it’s bad. You need linebackers in a 3-4 scheme. The Saints are already without Jonathan Vilma, Martez Wilson, and Junior Gallette. While Gallette & Wilson will be re-entering the lineups in due time, it’s not exactly the case for Vilma.
As per the depth chart (depending where you look), Wilson was to back up Will Smith, and behind him was Baraka Atkins. On the other side of the ball, behind Gallette is Rufus Johnson & Eric Martin.
Outside linebackers are seemingly depleted in the Free Agent Market, so now the task at hand is to see if the Saints look accordingly, move someone, or stick with who they have, and make it work.
One thing’s for sure, no one knows what starting four linebackers will be on the field when we open the season against Atlanta on September 8th.
What should Mickey Loomis & company do? Let us know!