First-round pick Payton Turner faces tough injury blow for the Saints

New Orleans Saints defensive end Payton Turner - Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints defensive end Payton Turner - Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Saints can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front. On Thursday, New Orleans placed rookie defensive end, Payton Turner, on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The Saints drafted Turner at No. 28 in the 2021 NFL draft in a move that didn’t exactly make the most sense. It’s now the midway point of the year and to put it simply, Turner hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

The 22-year-old out of the University of Houston has appeared in five of the Saints’ eight games. Turner was out for the season opener against Green Bay and then played in the team’s next four games before sitting out against Seattle and Tampa Bay. He’s battled calf, elbow and shoulder injuries.

Turner returned to the field last Sunday against Atlanta and took a season-low 15 snaps. He was helped off the field in the first half after he injured himself making a tackle, but ended up returning to the game. Four days later, it became official that he’d miss at least the next three weeks against Tennessee, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

Whenever New Orleans drafted Turner back in April, it was originally thought that he’d be an early pick on day two of the draft, not day one. After considering his six-foot-six stature, 35-inch arms and 270 pound appearance, it began to make sense that the Saints snagged Turner in the first round considering their history of drafting defensive ends. Now, Turner has to find a way around his toughest road block yet.

New Orleans Saints place Payton Turner on IR

Turner has a total of 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and one sack for New Orleans. He’s appeared in at least 40 percent of the Saints’ defensive snaps, but he won’t be seeing the field for the next three weeks (or more).

This isn’t exactly the news that fans were hoping for, especially after being skeptical about New Orleans using their first pick on Turner. His numbers prove that he’s seen success, but that can only happen when he’s on the field.

Turner dealt with injuries in his final year at Houston, too. He finished with 25 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in the five games that he played in for the Cougars. Unfortunately, his first year at the professional level is going to mirror his final year at the collegiate level. Luckily, the Saints have depth at the defensive position, but they were certainly hoping to get more production out of their first-round pick.

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In the best-case scenario, injuries won’t be something that’ll continue to plague Turner’s career. He’s already had the opportunity to play for one of the better defenses in the league and his development is important. The rookie has been dealt an unlucky hand in the first nine weeks of the season, but maybe he’ll be back to play a role in the Saints’ road to the playoffs.