Sheldon Rankins

NFC South Notes: Rankins, Julio, Stewart

Let’s check out a few items from the NFC South:

  • Sheldon Rankins is the only player on the Saints‘ PUP list at the moment, but Amie Just of the Times-Picayune suggests that he may remain there when the regular season starts, which would automatically rule him out for the first six games of the season. Head coach Sean Payton said Rankins is ahead of schedule in his recovery from an Achilles tear he suffered in the playoffs, but Payton conceded that Rankins is likely to miss all of training camp at least. It sounds as if Payton is expecting Rankins to miss some regular season time as well, though he could not give a precise timeline. We heard back in April that Rankins was likely to start the season on the PUP list, though there now appears to be some hope he can avoid it.
  • It’s now been over a year since the Falcons and Julio Jones renegotiated his contract, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com observes. That means that the two sides are free to make a new deal official, though McClure still does not think it will happen before Michael Thomas signs his extension with New Orleans.
  • Buccaneers second-year player M.J. Stewart, a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, spent most of his rookie campaign at cornerback. GM Jason Licht said in March that he wanted Stewart to play safety, but as Greg Auman of The Athletic says, the team has reversed course. Per Auman, Stewart is back at corner, and he will compete for the fifth CB job that is currently available after Ryan Smith‘s suspension (Twitter links).

Saints Pick Up Sheldon Rankins’ Option

The Saints are picking up defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins‘ fifth-year option, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The money is guaranteed for injury, so, as Rapoport notes, it’s a sign they believe Rankins will make a full recovery from his Achilles injury. 

Rankins, one of the best young defensive linemen in the game, is likely to begin the 2019 regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which would force him to miss the first six games of the year. Rankins, 25, played the most snaps of any Saints defensive tackle in 2018, managing 40 tackles (12 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 quarterback hits in the process. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Rankins as the No. 23 interior defender among 119 qualifiers.

With the additional year, Rankins will be under contract through the 2020 season. And, when he takes the field this year, he’ll help anchor a D-Line that has been overhauled by the additions of Malcom Brown and Mario Edwards Jr. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and Alex Okafor will not return after signing with the Falcons and Chiefs, respectively.

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Saints Notes: Ansah, Emanuel, Rankins

The latest from New Orleans:

  • Although the Saints recently met with free agent defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, no deal is imminent between the two parties, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That’s because New Orleans — and other clubs with interest — want to evaluate the status of Ansah’s shoulder before signing him. Ansah was limited by that shoulder issue all year long, and ultimately appeared in only seven games while trying to work through the ailment. The Bills have also met with Ansah, who was the Lions’ franchise player in 2018.
  • The Saints hosted linebacker Kyle Emanuel for a visit on Thursday, tweets veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer. Emanuel, 27, started 33 games for the Chargers over the past four years, but only topped 50% playing time in a season once during that span. He’s been a force on special teams, however, seeing at least 150 ST snaps in each of his pro campaigns. New Orleans already has Alex Anzalone, Demario Davis, and A.J. Klein as is starting linebackers, so Emanuel would serve as depth if signed.
  • After tearing his Achilles in the Divisional Round of the postseason, Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is likely to begin the 2019 regular season on the physically unable to perform list, which would force him to miss the first six games of the year, per Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link). Rankins, 24, played the most snaps of any Saints defensive tackle in 2018, managing 40 tackles (12 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 quarterback hits in the process. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Rankins as the No. 23 interior defender among 119 qualifiers.

Saints To Sign DT Tyrunn Walker

The Saints have agreed to sign defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Walker will provide support in the wake of Sheldon Rankins’ season-ending torn Achilles. Rankins has been formally placed on IR.

Walker first broke into the league with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He made the roster in his first year, but was a healthy scratch throughout his first pro season. He finally saw the field in 2013 and managed 2.5 sacks in ’14 as a nose tackle for New Orleans. Since then, he’s had stints with the Lions and Rams, but did not see live action in the 2018 season.

Walker, in all likelihood, will not see time in the NFC Championship Game unless he is absolutely needed. Instead, the Saints figure to use interior defenders such as Tyeler Davison, David Onyemata, and Taylor Stallworth to make up for Rankins’ absence.

Rankins, 24, played the most snaps of any Saints defensive tackle in 2018, managing 40 tackles (12 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 quarterback hits in the process. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Rankins as the No. 23 interior defender among 119 qualifiers.

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Saints Fear Sheldon Rankins Has Torn Achilles

The Saints believe defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins suffered a torn Achilles in today’s Divisional Round matchup against the Eagles, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

If the diagnosis is correct, Rankins will obviously miss the rest of the postseason. New Orleans is currently losing to Philadelphia, but if the club is able to come back and secure a victory, it would have to face the Rams in the NFC Championship Game without Rankins. A potential Super Bowl against either the Chiefs or Patriots would also be all the more difficult without Rankins available.

Rankins, 24, played the most snaps of any Saints defensive tackle in 2018, managing 40 tackles (12 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 quarterback hits in the process. Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Rankins as the No. 23 interior defender among 119 qualifiers.

With Rankins sidelined, the Saints will call on fellow defensive tackles Tyeler Davison, David Onyemata, and Taylor Stallworth to play more snaps. Those three are the only other interior defenders on New Orleans’ roster, but the team could promote either Henry Mondeaux or Tomasi Laulile from its practice squad.

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Saints Activate Rankins, Put Laurinaitis On IR

The Saints have used their IR exemption on a key performer, bringing back first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Rankins has not played this season, going down with a broken fibula in August. New Orleans played it safe with its top 2016 rookie investment, delaying his return until November after he was initially slated to miss between six and eight weeks. The Louisville defensive tackle appears to be on track to play against the 49ers on Sunday.

To make room for the promising first-year talent on the active roster, the team placed James Laurinaitis on IR, ending his season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The 22-year-old Rankins will join a Saints defense that ranks 27th in total defense but one that’s been deprived of some key parts. Delvin Breaux has also missed extensive time, having not played since going down in Week 1. P.J. Williams also resides on IR. New Orleans gave up a league-record 45 touchdown passes last season but upset Seattle last week and has a chance to move to .500 in San Francisco on Sunday.

While they’re not on pace to give up close to the 45 TD tosses they yielded in 2015, having clamped down despite secondary losses to cede just nine through seven games, the Saints have just 10 sacks. That ranks them 30th in the league. Rankins totaled 14 sacks at Louisville between the 2014-15 campaigns and should help in this department if he’s able to contribute consistently.

Laurinaitis has never spent time on IR in seven previous seasons, starting every game in which he played from 2009-15. But with Rankins having returned, he will not be able to continue that run of making it through every season on a Week 17 active roster. The offseason acquisition missed two games for the Saints and entered as a backup after returning from the quadriceps injury that sidelined him, so multiple streaks for the durable talent have ended this season.

The 29-year-old linebacker suffered the quad injury in Week 3 but returned to play in Weeks 6 and 7 for his new team. The former Rams standout did not make a tackle against the Chiefs or Seahawks, however, and will have more time to rehab now. He finishes the season with 17 stops.

One of several veteran Rams cut this offseason, Laurinaitis signed a three-year deal with the Saints and stands to see his base salary balloon from $900K to $2.45MM next season.

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Saints’ Sheldon Rankins To Debut This Week?

Finally, we could be on the verge of seeing Sheldon Rankins‘ NFL debut. Saints coach Sean Payton tells reporters that he anticipates Rankins playing this week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Sheldon Rankins (vertical)

Rankins, the Saints’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, has yet to take the field after suffering a broken fibula in the summer. Initially, the word was that Rankins would be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks starting in late August. However, the Saints played it safe with the young defensive lineman, pushing his debut off until November.

As a senior at Louisville, Rankins totaled 58 tackles with 13 sacks for a loss and six sacks. The No. 12 overall pick was a popular choice in Defensive Rookie of the Year predictions and while he may not have enough time to win the award this year, he could have a major impact on New Orleans’ D-Line. So far this year, New Orleans has given up the fifth-most yards per game (397.4) to opposing offenses.

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Saints Bringing Sheldon Rankins Back From IR

The Saints are designating Sheldon Rankins as their player to return off of injured reserve this season, coach Sean Payton told reporters (Twitter link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com). Rankins, a first-round pick in the spring, was placed on IR in August when he suffered a broken fibula. Sheldon Rankins (vertical)

Prior to the injury, Rankins was expected to compete with Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davison, and John Jenkins. Instead, the Louisville product has been busy rehabbing. Now, he is finally getting closer to making his NFL debut. When the Saints bring Rankins off of IR, that will open up a 21-day practice window in which they can evaluate him. If he is not activated within those three weeks, he can not be brought back this year. Rankins is expected to being practicing today.

After topping the Panthers 41-38 over the weekend, the Saints will travel to Kansas City this week to take on the Chiefs.

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Saints Sign Darryl Tapp, Travaris Cadet

After being cut this weekend, a pair of Saints are returning to the active roster. Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate tweets that the Saints have signed defensive end Darryl Tapp and running back Travaris Cadet. The team has also placed defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins on the injured reserve.

Travaris Cadet (vertical)Tapp joined the Saints in July after having played the past two seasons with the Lions. The 31-year-old, who has been in the league since 2006, has never missed more than five games in a season, and he’s compiled 27.5 career sacks in ten NFL seasons. Tapp played in all 16 games with Detroit in 2015, finishing with 19 tackles and two sacks.

Cadet re-signed with the Saints in March. The 27-year-old spent the 2015 season with the Patriots, 49ers, and Saints, finishing with 28 yards on 11 attempts. He also hauled in 16 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown.

Rankins, a defensive tackle out of Louisville, was the Saints first-round selection in this past year’s draft. The rookie was expected to compete with Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davison, and John Jenkins for playing time.

Latest On Saints’ Sheldon Rankins

Coach Sean Payton confirmed that Sheldon Rankins‘ injury is not season-ending, Jeff Duncan of The Times Picayune tweets. Still, he said it is too early to speculate on how the team will handle his injury with regards to the roster. Sheldon Rankins (vertical)

[RELATED: Saints’ Sheldon Rankins Suffers Broken Fibula]

The early tests indicated that Rankins suffered a broken fibula. If that’s the case, the believe is that Rankins is a candidate for the IR-DTR list, which would allow for a mid-season return (or, in Rankins’ case, a mid-season debut). Payton would not speak to whether Rankins would be slotted for the IR-DTR, but that should be the resolution for the first-round pick if he is to be sidelined for a significant amount of time. The early word is that the defensive lineman out of Louisville is likely to be sidelined for about six to eight weeks.

Rankins’ absence could spark the Saints to look into defensive line help on the open market. On Tuesday, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com suggested that Cullen Jenkins, Henry Melton, C.J. Mosley, and Sammie Lee Hill could be players worth consideration. Randy Starks could also be an intriguing name for New Orleans.

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