The availability of Saints’ Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham for Thursday night’s exhibition game with the New England Patriots was in question after he injured his back in Wednesday’s non-padded practice.
During 11-on-11 drills midway through practice, Graham got behind Patriots linebacker Donta Hightower and landed on his back after catching a touchdown from Drew Brees.
After the joint workout with the Patriots, Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said he didn’t think Graham’s injury was serious.
“He’s fine,” Vitt said. “I haven’t been inside yet, there’s been no report from the trainers. If there was anything, I’d get a report from the trainers.”
Brees also indicated that Graham was OK.
“He was fine,” Brees said. “In typical Jimmy Graham fashion, he was completely selling out for a ball in a play over his head. He ended up catching it for a huge play during practice.
“We’re wearing shells, but he’s going 1,000 miles an hour,” he added. “I think he just came down a little funny and had to shake it off, but he’s fine.”
SITTING IT OUT: In what wasn’t a big surprise, Vitt said starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer (sports hernia) and Patrick Robinson (shoulder) won’t suit up against the Patriots.
Greer is probably a couple of weeks away from returning from surgery last week, while Robinson has been out for the past 1 1/2 weeks after landing awkwardly on his shoulder on the fourth day of training camp.
Also not playing Thursday will be wide receiver Adrian Arrington (knee) and weakside linebacker David Hawthorne (hip flexor).
Vitt said the team was awaiting results on Arrington’s knee after he went to Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday to be examined by Dr. James Andrews for a possible torn meniscus.
Wide receiver Devery Henderson could also be held out of the game as he’s been limited in practice after having his ankle rolled Sunday night in the Hall of Fame Game.
GOOD WORK: Vitt noted that the work against the Patriots on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was the second time the teams have practiced against each other in the past three summers, was beneficial to both teams.
“We got a lot of situational work done (Tuesday),” Vitt said. “We were able to go through the film with our players last night. You’re going against some great skill here and another great quarterback (Tom Brady). Absolutely, we got a lot out of this.
“This has always been a game about execution and players,” he said. “Both teams execute very well. Both teams have won a lot of games. They’re the defending AFC champions and their body of work speaks for itself, so we are excited about it.”
REPLACEMENT REFS: Both Vitt and Brees said they aren’t concerned about playing another exhibition game with replacement officials while the league continues to negotiate with locked-out regular officials.
“It sounds like a lot of them have been brought from college or high school and they’re being brought up to speed,” Brees said. “It is what it is. Our job is to go out and play football. We don’t control what goes on with those officials and those negotiations.
“Whoever’s out there officiating is officiating; we’ll just focus on doing our job.”