WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints did some roster-shuffling after their off-day.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list Wednesday. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley and safety Erik Harris also returned from minor injuries. And the Saints signed three new players – veteran defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, rookie guard Jordan Walsh and rookie safety Jamal Golden.
The Saints are easing Lewis back into the mix following multiple hip surgeries that limited him to just six games last season. Lewis’ last surgery was in January, and he participated in many of this summer’s OTAs and minicamp sessions. But the Saints want to take a cautious approach, so he spent the first five practices of training camp working off to the side with trainers.
If Lewis, 30, is able to return close to his form from 2013 and 2014, the Saints’ pass defense will be in much better shape. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Lewis emerged as a No. 1 cornerback, routinely matching up against the opponents’ top receivers. Last year, Delvin Breaux emerged in a similar role. Together, they could give the Saints their best pair of corners since Jabari Greer was injured in 2013.
“It would be too early to say [where Lewis is in the recovery process right now],” Payton said. “As far as his health, he feels healthy and is really getting out there and working the mechanics and technique. It’s been a while since he has actually been on the field. But he knows what’s going on, and it’s now just getting the pivots, the turns, his pedal, the technique, all those nuances of getting back on the field.”
Shaughnessy, 29, didn’t play last season after being released by the Arizona Cardinals in September. So he is likely a roster long shot in New Orleans. However, he will be reunited with Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who was his head coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2012.
Shaughnessy (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) started all 16 games for the Raiders as a defensive end that year -- the position he will likely play in New Orleans, since the Saints primarily run a 4-3 scheme.
Shaughnessy, a third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin in 2009, spent his first four seasons in Oakland, then two seasons with the Cardinals. He has a total of 176 tackles, 18.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his career.
Walsh went undrafted out of Iowa this year, and Golden went undrafted out of Georgia Tech.
Darby and Prater were both waived/injured. Darby spent much of last season on the Saints’ practice squad and was an energetic presence in the locker room. But he suffered an injury during practice last week.