In a move foreshadowed earlier in the week, the Saints have brought back a key member of their offensive line. The team announced on Saturday that center Erik McCoy has been activated from IR.
The 25-year-old was designated for return on Wednesday, opening his 21-day activation window. He had missed the past four games, as required by injured reserve rules, but a return to action along this timeline is encouraging for his health outlook down the stretch. The same holds true of linebacker Chase Hansen, who has played exclusively on special teams to date.
With McCoy back in the fold, New Orleans will once again have their full-time starter in the middle of their o-line. McCoy played every snap of the 2022 season before going down in Week 9 with a calf injury. He dealt with a similar issue the year before, which caused him to miss games for the first time in his four-year career. The former second-rounder graded out in the top-five amongst all centers as a rookie, earning a 78.0 rating from PFF. 2022 has, however, continued his emerging trend of grades in the mid-60s, which have placed him mid-pack at the position.
The move will allow Cesar Ruiz to return to his usual right guard spot. That should help the team’s offensive front in their attempts to improve on the ground during their late-season playoff push. The Saints rank 21st in rushing yards per game with 110, and sit 28th with an average time of possession of 29 minutes. Improvement in those areas could spark a December turnaround and keep the team in contention for the NFC South title.
In a corresponding roster move, New Orleans placed linebacker Zack Baun on IR. The 2020 third-rounder has, similarly to Hansen, been used on special teams far more than defense. The former will now miss the remainder of the regular season after being sidelined for just one contest over the course of his first two years in the league. Hansen will likely re-take a significant third phase role in his absence, beginning on Sunday for New Orleans’ divisional contest against the Falcons.