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John DeShazier: Lance Moore's return could soften Jimmy Graham's possible absence

Posted Oct 23, 2013

Lance Moore fully participated in Wednesday's practice

There were two significant additions to the New Orleans Saints' injury report Wednesday, as tight end Jimmy Graham (foot) and defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle) were added to the list and were unable to practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against Buffalo at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

But receiver Lance Moore, who missed the last three games with an injured hand, returned to the practice field and fully participated in Wednesday’s workout.

Moore, one of the most reliable offensive targets, caught four passes for 44 yards before injuring his hand in the third game of the season, a 31-7 victory over Arizona.  His return comes none too soon, quarterback Drew Brees said, considering Sunday’s opponent.

“Lance is a guy who can play all over the field,” Brees said. “He’s probably the best overall route runner (on the team).

“His ability to set up certain routes, especially against man coverage, the way he can study guys and just know the certain techniques to play versus different corners, and his ability to get separation especially on the intermediate routes – and you talk about playing a team that’s a heavy man team, like Buffalo – that’s a great asset to have.”

Moore said he’s been eager to return to the lineup, and became especially so while watching his teammates play another team that was heavy on man-to-man coverage, New England.

The Saints (5-1) lost their only game of the season, a 30-27 decision. Buffalo enters Sunday’s game 3-4. New Orleans Saints

“Once you miss so much time – and a game like New England, one of those man-to-man type games, and this week is looking like it’s going to be one of those games as well – you love that moment and being able to showcase your talents and getting open out there,” Moore said. “That’s what I love to do.

“It’s tough. At this point in my career I’ve missed a number of games and it just doesn’t seem to get easier. Each game kind of stings a little bit more but I’m trying to work my way back in there and hopefully get some time this week.”

His return might soften the absence of Graham if the tight end is a scratch. Graham leads the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (593) and touchdowns (six).

“We’re always of the philosophy, ‘Next Man Up,’ ” Brees said. “We’ve got guys that are always waiting in the wings for opportunities.

“Lance goes down and that’s just an opportunity for (second-year receiver) Nick Toon to come up and make some of the plays he has, and (rookie) Kenny Stills. (Running back) Mark Ingram goes down, (rookie) Khiry Robinson has been able to step up and play really well for us.

“There are lots of situations that I could point to, or scenarios, where guys have stepped up and done a great job and that would be no different at the tight end position.”

Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson (eight catches, 110 yards and a touchdown) likely would be called upon to help fill the void left by Graham.

“Everybody on this team is accountable,” Watson said. “If you’re on the 53(-man roster), you’re accountable. Whether that’s a small role or a large role or a role that can change on any given Sunday.

“In this game people go down all the time and you never know if they’ll be out a day or a week. No matter what it is, everybody has to be ready and available to come in when their number is called.”

That could be Sunday for Moore, who’s returning from an injury, and for Watson, whose role could increase.

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