Saints put starter Grant on IR, replace him with veteran DE Spicer

NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints placed Charles Grant on injured reserve Tuesday and will have to make their playoff run without their starting defensive end.

The Saints said that Grant, who anchored the left side of the defensive line, has a triceps injury that will end his season. The eight-year NFL veteran had surgery to repair the torn muscle, according to the team.

Grant, one of the few starters the Saints didn't rest during their regular-season finale, was hurt during last Sunday's 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He missed the last eight games of last season with a similar injury.

Grant, 31, started every game this season and was credited with 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

To help fill the void left by Grant, the Saints re-signed defensive end Paul Spicer, a 10-year veteran who first joined the team as a free agent last spring. He played in all four preseason games with New Orleans before being released in the final preseason cutdown.

The Saints (13-3) have a first-round bye in the playoffs, but they lost the last three regular-season games, including an overtime defeat at home to the last-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By the end of the regular season, the defense had slipped from the top 10 in the NFL in yards allowed to 25th, the lowest ranking of any of the 12 playoff teams.

Although several starters rested in the meaningless loss to Carolina last Sunday, the defense gave up 1,725 yards in the previous four games, an average of 431.2 per contest. The Detroit Lions, who finished last in the NFL in total defense for the season, allowed 392.1.

Injuries have contributed to the New Orleans defense's decline, but with the rest the bye week provides, the Saints hoped all 11 starters would be healthy for the playoffs.

Coach Sean Payton gave the Saints nearly a week off to clear their heads before they return to practice for double sessions Saturday and Sunday to begin preparing for a divisional playoff game.

New Orleans will open on Jan. 16 in the Louisiana Superdome against Philadelphia, Green Bay or Arizona, depending on this weekend's wild-card results.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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