As we enter the final stretch of the regular season, New Orleans is making preparations, designating center Erik McCoy and linebacker Chase Hansen for return off injured reserve, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Both players have sat out of the team’s last four games, the minimum amount required to return form IR.
McCoy was placed on IR after leaving New Orleans’ Monday night loss to the Ravens in early-November. The team’s fourth-year starting center left the game with a calf injury and sat out the next five weeks, mirroring his absence from the year before due to similar calf issues. Usual starting right guard Cesar Ruiz, who has center experience from his time as a Wolverine, has been filling in for McCoy with backup lineman Calvin Throckmorton filling Ruiz’s spot at guard. Veteran interior lineman Josh Andrews has also helped to fill out the two positions, starting three of the four games McCoy has missed.
Hansen’s return will add a bit of depth at the linebacker position. The third-year player out of Utah had been a mainstay on the special teams units this season before finding his way to IR.
The team also has officially placed veteran running back Mark Ingram on IR following the slight MCL tear suffered in the team’s more recent Monday night loss to the Buccaneers. The injury to the team’s backup running back has forced New Orleans to make some moves, the first of which being the promotion of practice squad running back David Johnson to the 53-man roster.
The second move made to counter the absence of Ingram is today’s waiver claim of former Texans and Cardinals running back Eno Benjamin, confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Benjamin was released by Arizona a few weeks after a three-week starting run that included a 113-yard, touchdown-scoring performance. He quickly was picked up by the Texans who gave him two weeks to adjust to his new settings before playing him sparingly each of the past two weeks. He received his first carries as a Texan last weekend against the Cowboys before getting waived for the second time this season.
Benjamin was starting to show some production as a backup running back in his second year of NFL play, earning 299 yards off 70 carries before getting waived from the Cardinals. Combining Benjamin with Johnson should provide New Orleans with some solid, fresh legs behind starter Alvin Kamara.