We saw how much having Jahri Evans healthy meant to this team last week as undrafted rookie Tim Lelito started his first game and struggled mightily going up against Darnell Dockett. Evans was active and dressed in that game, mind you, because Tim Lelito is their only backup interior lineman. The Saints also have Bryce Harris and Terron Armstead as reserve linemen, but both are tackles and Armstead is too lean to even double as a guard in a pinch. So while Evans' hamstring issue was too serious to play last week, he was needed as active in case one of the three starting interior linemen went down because quite simply WE HAVE NO ONE ELSE. Evans is back to practice on a limited basis this week, so hopefully he's feeling better. But the concern is he's practicing with a compromised hamstring because Tim Lelito is NOT practicing with a compromised calf. Yikes! Where does this leave us?
The Saints also flipped practice squad spots in the last 48 hours, dumping and then re-adding guard Senio Kelemete. Why is he back on the practice squad? Undoubtedly to get some reps in practice in case they have to call him up to the active roster for this game Monday night. Marcel Jones is also on the practice squad, and he can play both the tackle and guard position. But there's a chance the Saints could do something roster wise before Monday if Evans and Lelito aren't both ready to go, even if not 100%. If one of them is healthy enough to play but the other is not, my guess is the Saints will want another reserve interior guy. They can't go into the game with no backup option, unless they feel Bryce Harris could handle it in a pinch.
Evans hasn't been good when he's played with his bad hamstring. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the second worse Saint on offense so far this season with a -5.5 grade. The injury has clearly affected his ability to move laterally. Ironically the only guy grading worse on offense so far has been his healthy replacement, Tim Lelito, who graded out at -7.5. A lot of you want to cut Lelito some slack but he was beyond awful in that Cardinals game. He is just not ready to be a starter in the NFL right now. The major concern here is that Evans is being rushed back despite not really being healthy enough to play because the alternative is even worse, and now hurt too.
It's becoming clear that the Saints, quite simply, just cannot afford a single injury to any of the three players on their interior line (Grubbs, de la Puente and Evans). Stay healthy my friends.