After missing all but two plays of Sunday’s 26-20 loss to the New York Jets with a concussion, Saints running back Darren Sproles had full participation in Wednesday’s practice.
When the Saints returned to the practice field to begin their preparations for Sunday’s game with the Dallas Cowboys, Sproles was full-go just three days after suffering a head injury while being tackled at the end of a 2-yard catch on the second play from scrimmage.
Sproles, who took a hard hit from Jets safety Antonio Allen and middle linebacker David Harris, said Wednesday he passed the post-concussion tests players are required to take before they can return to the field.
“I came back to practice, so it was just another day,” Sproles said.
Sproles, who said he expects to play against the Cowboys, got up quickly after the hit Sunday and said he initially thought he could return to the game.
“But when they took me to the locker room (for further testing),” he said, “I knew I wasn’t going to come back out.”
PRACTICE REPORT: Five Saints did not participate in Wednesday’s practice, a group that included free safety Malcolm Jenkins and tight end Jimmy Graham.
Jenkins did not play in Sunday’s loss to the Jets after being injured in the prior game against the Buffalo Bills, while Graham apparently hurt his elbow to go with the foot injury that he sustained last month.
Also not working were G Jahri Evans (hip), DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) and LB David Hawthorne (toe).
WR Marques Colston (knee) and S Kenny Vaccaro (chest) were limited, while SS Roman Harper (knee), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), DE Tom Johnson (hip) and TE Josh Hill (foot) had full participation along with Sproles.
CLAIBORNE AILING: Former LSU All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne, who was inactive for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings because of a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.
Claiborne, a second-year player, was hurt the previous week in a loss to the Detroit Lions when he was in for only 33 of 80 defensive plays.
Others not working Wednesday were WR Dez Bryant (back), DE Jason Hatcher (neck), WR Miles Austin (hamstring), LB DeVonte Holloman (neck) and S J.J. Wilcox (knee).
LB DeMarcus Ware, who’s missed three consecutive games with a thigh injury, was limited.
DEMANDING JOB: Saints coach Sean Payton was asked this week about being in a stressful job after two of his friends — John Fox and Gary Kubiak –wound up in the hospital over the weekend.
Payton and Fox were on the same staff with the New York Giants in the early 2000s and said Fox is as close a friend he has in coaching. He and Kubiak are also friends after their teams played several times in the preseason and they also held joint training camp practices.
“I hope both of them get back out there as soon as they can and when they can,” Payton said. “Certainly there’s a demand, and you try to find that balance from a health standpoint.
“It’s a tough one because, by nature, that position — and it’s not just the NFL, it’s college, it’s high school — the job is competitive.”
A TOUGH ONE: Payton was asked Wednesday if the loss of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone on Monday night is a reminder of how lucky he is to have a durable signal-caller like Drew Brees.
Brees has never missed a game because of injury since signing with the Saints, sitting out the 2009 season finale only because the Saints had wrapped up homefield advantage for the playoffs.
That’s 127 games he has played in without missing one to an injury.
“Yes, I mean you just never take anything for granted and you work hard to make sure the ball is coming out (quickly and not taking unnecessary hits),” said Payton.
SUNDAY NIGHT SAINTS: Going into this week’s game with the Cowboys, the Saints are 6-1 on Sunday night since NBC took over the time slot in 2006 — with the only loss to the Denver Broncos (34-14) last October.
The Saints also won in their last ESPN Sunday evening appearance back in 2005 and are 15-13 all-time on that night.
They’re 7-3 all-time on NBC counting a 1-2 mark in Thursday night games played on Kickoff Weekend.