The much anticipated debut of New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick Sheldon Rankinswill happen in a few hours, when the rookie defensive tackle and his teammates face San Francisco at Levi's Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Rankins will be joined by cornerback Delvin Breauxin returning from injury. Each broke a fibula, and both likely will see limited snaps against the 49ers. And linebacker James Laurinaitis'season ended late last week, when he was placed on injured reserve with a recurring quadriceps injury.
Rankins, the No. 12 overall pick, suffered his injury in training camp during a goal-line drill. After surgery, he was placed on injured reserve and became the Saints' designated player to return from injured reserve. His recovery was on schedule – the first game for which he was eligible to play is today's game.
He was working with the defensive starters at the time of his injury.
Breaux broke his fibula in the regular-season opener, against Oakland, while paying on a special team unit. Breaux led the Saints in interceptions (three) and passes defenses (23) last season, his first in the NFL.
He was a limited participant in practice and was listed as questionable Friday, but Wednesday said he felt "115 percent" and hadn't suffered any setbacks in practice.