It's highly questionable that Jimmy Graham will be able to play next Sunday when the New Orleans Saints return from their bye week to play the Detroit Lions, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Had the Saints played this Sunday, the tight end, who suffered a sprained shoulder against the Buccaneers, would not have played, the source said.
New Orleans, realizing they must prepare in the event Graham misses any time, signed former Packers tight end Tom Crabtree last week. Crabtree edged out veteran Kellen Davis during Tuesday's workout.
Graham is the Saints' leading receiver this year with 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. No one else on the roster presents the same type of unique matchup problems, meaning Graham will leave a significant void in New Orleans' offense.
But the Saints do have enough depth and versatility to adjust.
Despite their 2-3 start, the Saints lead the NFL in yards per game this season (442.8). Some of that is because they've been playing catch-up, but some is because their run game has been off to a great start. They rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-31 in overtime last week after Graham left in the first half, leaning heavily on their running backs and rookie receiver Brandin Cooks, who's become a big part of the offense as both a runner and short-yardage receiver.
Running back Mark Ingram is expected to return from his own hand injury this week, which will help.
However, the Saints will need to get the rest of their receiving corps more involved in the offense than it has been so far this year -- especially veteran Marques Colston, who can play a similar role to Graham in the middle of the field, on third downs and in the red zone.
Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson and second-year pro Josh Hill are also capable of playing bigger roles in the offense, though neither will directly replace everything that Graham does as a receiver.
ESPN.com's Mike Triplett contributed to this report.