Sheldon Rankins

Sheldon Rankins Expected To Be Ready By Training Camp

Assuming that there is a training camp this year, Sheldon Rankins should be ready for it. The Saints’ defensive tackle is recovering from an operation that prevented a potential Achilles rupture, and while he would not be ready to play if the season started today, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football (subscription required) writes that Rankins is expected to be at full strength by July.

It’s been a tough road for the 2016 first-rounder. His rookie season was delayed by a broken fibula, and while he played a full regular season in 2017 and 2018, he suffered a torn Achilles in the divisional round of the 2018 playoffs that kept him off the field for the first three weeks of the 2019 campaign. Then, he landed on IR last December with his present injury, which was apparently close to being a torn Achilles in his other leg.

When on the field, Rankins has generally been quite productive. The Saints picked up his fifth-year option last April, so he is under contract through 2020 and is scheduled to earn roughly $7.7MM this season. If he stays injury-free and performs well, he could be in line for a nice payday next offseason, but that’s a big “if” at the moment.

The Saints’ defensive front is a strong one, and it has the potential to be dominant with a healthy Rankins in the mix. In 2018, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics considered him one of the best interior D-linemen in the game, and he racked up 40 tackles and eight sacks that season. He appeared to be returning to that same form last year before being shelved again.

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Saints Place Sheldon Rankins On IR

After learning yesterday that defensive lineman Marcus Davenport would be undergoing season-ending surgery, the Saints have been dealt another blow. Per Ian Rapoport of, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins has a significant ankle injury that will knock him out for the rest of the season (Twitter link). New Orleans placed Rankins on IR and signed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, Field Yates of tweets.

Rankins left the Saints’ difficult loss to the 49ers on Sunday with the injury, and his absence will be missed as the club tries to climb back into one of the NFC’s top two seeds. The 2016 first-rounder is unfortunately no stranger to the training room, as he has also suffered a broken fibula and a torn Achilles in his young career. He played a full 16-game slate in the 2017-18 seasons, and in 2018, he broke out with eight sacks. But he tore his Achilles in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs, and he did not return to the field until Week 4 of the 2019 campaign.

Luckily for the Saints, the defensive front is perhaps their deepest positional group. But given that linebackers A.J. Klein and Kiko Alonso also dealing with injuries, the front seven as a whole has suddenly become something of a question mark.

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Injury Notes: Big Ben, Massie, Rankins

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent elbow surgery today, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The veteran is expected to be ready for the 2020 season. This optimism is similar to what we heard yesterday when we learned about Big Ben’s impending surgery.

Schefter adds that Roethlisberger had surgery on his right elbow. The operation was done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache (in consultation with team physician Jim Bradley) in Los Angeles. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky notes (on Twitter) that this is the same surgeon who operated on Aaron Rodgers collarbone back in 2017.

“Once Ben returns to Pittsburgh, he immediately will begin working with the Steelers’ medical staff on his rehabilitation, and he is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field for the 2020 NFL season,” the Steelers said in a statement (via Schefter).

We learned yesterday that the procedure would repair a muscle tear, and it didn’t involve any ligaments or tendons. Roethlisberger is expected to begin throwing by the spring, and it sounds like he should be good to go come next season.

Let’s check out some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Bears right tackle Bobby Massie was forced to sit out tonight’s game against the Redskins due to a bout with vertigo, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (via Twitter). The illness apparently popped up today, and it’s uncertain if this is a temporary or long-term issue for the 30-year-old. After starting each of his 46 games during his first three seasons in Chicago, Massie added another two starts to his resume this season.
  • On Saturday, the Packers placed offensive guard Lane Taylor on the injured reserve with a biceps injury, and we now have a bit more clarity on his outlook. Demovsky reports (via Twitter) that the 29-year-old will ultimately need surgery on his left bicep. While the veteran could return from the injured reserve in late November, the operation may sideline him for the rest of the season. Taylor started a pair of games this season before suffering the injury.
  • There’s a chance that Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins sees this field next Sunday night, but Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets that the 25-year-old is more likely to return in Week 5 or Week 6. The 2016 first-rounder has yet to play in a game this season as he recovers from his Achilles injury. After compiling a career-high eight sacks during the 2018 regular season, Rankins suffered the injury during the divisional round of the playoffs.

Saints To Activate Sheldon Rankins

The Saints will activate defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins from the PUP list, a source tells Ian Rapoport of (on Twitter). This is encouraging news for the Saints as they look to get their standout defender back on the field following an Achilles tear. 

Just four weeks ago, it was believed that Rankins would begin the season on the PUP list, which would have ruled him out for the first six games of the year. Instead, the door now appears open to Rankins suiting up sooner.

In the short term, the Saints are still a little thin up front. It still seems unlikely that Rankins will play in Week 1 and David Onyemata will also miss the opener against the Texans thanks to his one-game suspension. For now, Mario Edwards Jr. will start at defensive tackle while newcomer Malcom Brown offers support.

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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 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 (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 (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 (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 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 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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