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New Orleans Saints starting offensive line may be intact for first time since Nov. 7

Center Erik McCoy set to return from IR, rejoin lineup

Erik McCoy #78
Erik McCoy #78

There was no absolute assurance to be offered Friday by New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen, but the possibility exists that the Saints (4-9) will take the field Sunday against Atlanta (5-8) in the Caesars Superdome with their starting offensive line intact for the first time since Nov. 7, against Baltimore.

Center Erik McCoy, who has missed the last four games and was placed on injured reserve with a calf injury, was designated to return this week and has participated in practice.

"I think he's worked back in pretty nicely," Allen said. "And I think we're hopeful that he'll be ready to go this week.

"If he's able to go, we'll have our starting offensive line back out there probably for the first time in a while. It's been the history here that this team has kind of gone as the offensive line has gone, so getting a full group out there would be beneficial to us.

"Specifically at that position, because all five of those guys have to work closely together and make sure they're all on the same page. And so, having that continuity with guys that are used to working together I think is important. Hopefully that'll be the case this weekend."

McCoy started every game his first two seasons, but missed five last year with an ankle injury, and four this year. In his absence, New Orleans has rushed for 58 yards per game and 2.32 yards per carry against several of the league's most formidable run defenses in the Steelers, Rams, 49ers and Buccaneers.

Allen also said that cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who hasn't played since Oct. 9, will be listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Lattimore suffered an abdominal injury against the Seahawks and has been unable to play since.

"It's all about can he go out and perform and play at an acceptable level, that he's capable of playing at, where he can help us win," Allen said. "A lot of that is where is he at from a physical standpoint and where is he at from a mental standpoint. I think it's a combination of both.

"I think we were all hopeful that we'd have him back out here sooner rather than later. But it's where we're at right now. We're going to keep trying to push and get him ready to go, and he's continuing to push to get himself ready. I think it's easy for a lot of people to question, but yet, it's easy when it's not your body that you're questioning whether a guy is ready to go or not. I don't think I ever question that with a player."

LOOK-SEE: Allen said the team was intrigued enough to bring in running back Eno Benjamin after Benjamin was waived by the Houston Texans on Tuesday. New Orleans claimed him Wednesday. "He's a guy that in college, we had a high opinion of," Allen said. "I think he's a guy that's athletic. He's got a speed element to his game. I think he's a really good space player and for a guy that's not exceptionally big (5 feet 9, 207 pounds), I think he runs tough. He's a guy that we wanted to get in here and get a look at and see what we might have in him."

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