Saints' Brandin Cooks sits out; C.J. Spiller, Brandon Coleman on mend

The New Orleans Saints' offense was lacking quite a bit of firepower in Sunday's late afternoon practice, with receivers Brandin Cooks and Brandon Coleman and running back C.J. Spiller all watching from the sideline, based on reports from those in attendance. The good news is that none of the injuries appear serious.

Cooks watched from the sideline and pedaled the stationary bike during Sunday's practice. His ailment is unknown. This was the first practice he's missed in training camp, though his snaps also appeared to be limited during last Friday's scrimmage.

Spiller and Coleman were sidelined late last week, but both appear to be on the mend since they were dressed for Sunday's practice. They did some work but did not participate in team drills.

On a brighter note for the offense, tight end Josh Hill and offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Tim Lelito all returned to team drills after being sidelined for part of last week.

The defense has a couple injuries of greater concern.

Defensive end Akiem Hicks remained absent for the third consecutive practice with an undisclosed ailment. He'll be missed if he's out for any significant stretch of time, especially since he's been off to such a strong start this summer after shedding 20 pounds.

And safety Jairus Byrd remained out, as he has been throughout camp. Saints coach Sean Payton insisted last week that Byrd is on schedule and should return sooner than later. Fellow safety Kenny Vaccaro confirmed Sunday that Byrd is rehabbing a knee injury and that he plans to listen to doctors and not “rush back.”

“He'll come back and be the same old Byrd when he's healthy,” Vaccaro said, though he stressed not to "sleep" on Byrd's replacement, Rafael Bush, either.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe returned to team drills for the first time in more than a week Monday and returned to the starting lineup (while veteran David Hawthorne was bumped to the second string). Cornerback Damian Swann was also back in team drills.

Linebacker Anthony Spencer was held out of team drills, but he was dressed and did some individual work.

Safety Kenny Phillips was held out for the first time in camp, watching from the sidelines.

Some other notables from Sunday's practice:

  • Payton was pleased with the way the Saints cleaned up the substitution errors that plagued Friday's scrimmage. He said he told the staff the other day that there were a handful of things that were "real good" in the scrimmage. But, "the substitution thing was kind of like a bug in someone's meal. It could be a great meal, and yet you just come away from it a little frustrated."

  • Second-year receiver Willie Snead returned punts during practice for what is believed to be the first time this summer. That's another good sign for the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, who has drawn praise from Payton and quarterback Drew Brees in camp so far. He's stuck in a crowded competition at receiver, but the Saints could be looking for ways to get him on the field.

  • The Saints pumped in crowd noise for the first time in camp as they prepare for Thursday's preseason opener at the Baltimore Ravens.