Saints may have to manage without Sproles against Cowboys

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The New Orleans Saints do not know yet whether Darren Sproles will be available Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

The dangerous running back and kick returner suffered a concussion on the second play last week against the New York Jets, missed the rest of the game, and the Saints missed him.

“You obviously miss a guy like that who is a matchup nightmare for most defenses,” receiver Lance Moore told New Orleans reporters. “Not to say that we were scrambling to try to replace him, but you don’t always game plan ‘if this guy is out, what do you do?’ It’s something you have to adjust on the fly.”

Sproles is one of the Saints’ favorite weapons because of his versatility. But the Cowboys have largely contained him. In three games against the Cowboys, Sproles has 70 yards rushing and 107 yards receiving. But he has averaged 29 yards on seven kickoff returns.

Dropped

Like the Cowboys, the Saints had problems with dropped balls last week. Wide receiver Lance Moore said it’s the No. 1 thing that hurt the Saints.

“If you watch the specific plays, two right off the top of my head could potentially be touchdown plays,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working. It’s not something where we’re going to watch the film and say, ‘Hey, it’s not going to happen again.’ It’s something we are going to directly address when we are out on the field and do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Vilma returns

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma played last week for the first time this year. He missed the first seven games recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery in August. He was in on 12 snaps.

Key stat

125.6Average passer rating at home for Drew Brees this season. The Saints are 4-0 at the Superdome, having scored 23, 31, 38 and 35 points against Atlanta, Arizona, Miami and Buffalo.

Special teams

Carroll graduate Garrett Hartley missed on his first field goal attempt last week, giving him three consecutive misses. But he came back and nailed a career-best 55-yarder then a 43-yarder.

Wide receiver Lance Moore stepped in to return punts last week after Darren Sproles went out with a concussion. Running back Travaris Cadet returned kickoffs. The Saints averaged 20.3 yards on kickoff returns and did not have a punt return.

Briefly

• Free safety Malcolm Jenkins and receiver Marques Colston missed last week’s game because of knee injuries. Their status for Sunday’s game with the Cowboys is unknown.

• Strong safety Roman Harper has missed six games with a knee injury.

• Defensive end Tyrunn Walker has missed four games with a knee injury.

This report contains material from other reporters.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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