The New Orleans Saints have a new head coach for the 2022 season, with Dennis Allen replacing Sean Payton. However, expectations are not changing. This is a team that is expecting to still compete this season despite having a new headman on the sideline.
To make some noise in the NFC South, the Saints are going to need Jameis Winston to be healthy. Everything seemed to be going well in his rehab, as Winston injured his knee in a Week 8 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
The Saints went 5-2 in the games that Winston started, showing how important he was to their success. It wasn’t long ago that Allen said the team was happy with the progress he was making in his return, saying that he was looking good.
However, he may have jumped the gun on that prognosis. According to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football, Winston may not be as healthy as Allen was letting on. Underhill is reporting that Winston has a visible limp, which certainly isn’t the most encouraging development.
While the former No. 1 overall pick was cleared to participate in OTAs, it sounds like he still has some progress to make in his rehab. New Orleans needs to find the right balance in pushing him but also limiting what he does so that he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, putting his return in jeopardy.
There is a risk for an injury elsewhere if Winston is compensating for the ACL tear with a limp. The medical staff certainly knows what they are doing and they wouldn’t let him out on the field, even for workouts, if they felt that it could lead to another injury occurring.
If Winston’s return is delayed, the Saints can at least rest easy knowing they have a seasoned veteran in Andy Dalton that can step into the lineup. After that, it would be Ian Book, as Taysom Hill isn’t in the quarterback room this season.
If things become very dire, New Orleans can always explore the trade market. Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are two options that remain available should none of the quarterbacks currently on the roster be able to cut it.