New Orleans coach Sean Payton said Monday the Saints expect to get defensive end Will Smith back sometime this week.
Smith was suspended for the first two games of this season after testing positive for the banned substance “StarCaps’’ in 2008. He also was required to forfeit four game checks. Smith hasn’t been formally reinstated yet, but Payton said he expects that by the middle of the week.
The Saints did a decent job of getting through the first two games without their top pass rusher. After a rough opener in Green Bay, the defense played a strong game in Sunday’s victory against Chicago.
There were some raised eyebrows when the Saints released veteran defensive end Alex Brown in the preseason, knowing they’d have to play without Smith. But Brown wasn’t having a great preseason and the Saints decided not to hang onto Brown as a bridge until Smith came back.
Instead, they took their chances and it worked out. Rookie Cameron Jordan got to play right away and has shown some potential and the Saints have found out that Turk McBride and Junior Galette can play.
With Smith back in the fold, the Saints will have some depth at defensive end.