Saints' Harper, Gay, Fujita all will miss Sunday's game vs. Redskins

Updated: September 12, 2008, 4:03 PM ET
Associated Press

METAIRIE, La. -- The Saints' defense will be short at least three players who started in Week 1 when New Orleans plays at Washington on Sunday.

Safety Roman Harper, cornerback Randall Gay and linebacker Scott Fujita were unable to practice Friday, and coach Sean Payton said they will not play this weekend.

Harper pulled his right hamstring and Gay his left hamstring during the season-opening 24-20 victory over Tampa Bay last Sunday. Fujita bruised his right knee in the first quarter of that game, but returned to make a clinching interception.

This week, however, the swelling worsened, so trainers and coaches chose to hold him out, meaning the seventh-year veteran will miss only the second game of his career.

"I was kind of hoping for a miracle and I had hoped that by Friday I would be ready to go, but it's just not" better, Fujita said. "It's pretty painful. ... Hopefully by Monday I'll be able to run around a little bit and we'll see how that goes."

Meanwhile, the Saints placed linebacker Mark Simoneau on injured reserve. Simoneau, a starter the past two seasons, needs surgery on his back to repair a damaged disk, Payton said.

Simoneau's back began bothering him during the preseason and he was unable to play last week. He tried to practice this week before the team's medical staff decided it would be best for him to get surgery.

Simoneau was not expected to start because the Saints acquired Jonathan Vilma in an offseason trade. Still, Simoneau looked strong early in training camp and appeared on track to see regular action in what would have been his ninth season.

Payton said the Saints intended to sign defensive end Josh Savage from the practice squad to fill Simoneau's spot on the roster. The move also meant linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, signed off the practice squad last week, will remain on the active roster for now.

Cornerback Mike McKenzie, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament late last season, practiced this week. He is very close to being ready, Payton said, adding his status would be a game-time decision.

On offense, the Saints will play a second straight week without reserve running Aaron Stecker (hamstring).

Deuce McAllister, coming back from a second knee reconstruction in three seasons, is expected to be in uniform for a second straight week, but whether he plays for the first time this season is unknown.

Payton said he called McAllister last Sunday night to reassure the Saints' all-time leading rusher that he was "in the plans."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press