Saints’ reserve RB Hill out for the year

Sean Payton would prefer to have a running back other than

Reggie Bush or Pierre Thomas handle the pounding of certain

short-yardage carries and those late-game runs when the Saints are

trying to protect leads and wind down the clock.

With two preseason games left, the search for that role appears

wide open.

Running back P.J. Hill, a promising second-year pro out of

Wisconsin, was waived on Monday and is expected to be placed on

injured reserve with a partial triceps tear that will sideline him

for the season.

Hill’s injury comes less than two weeks after a season-ending

right knee injury to Lynell Hamilton, who entered training camp as

the leading candidate to become the third running back after Mike

Bell, who handled that role in 2009, left for Philadelphia in free

agency.

”There’s a couple players that aren’t here who were here a year

ago at this time, Lynell being one of them, who’s now injured, Mike

Bell certainly being the other,” Payton said. ”These other guys

are going to have to really step up and prove themselves for a spot

on the roster.”

Now that Hill is out, the ”other guys” now consist of

undrafted rookie Chris Ivory, recently acquired veteran free agent

Ladell Betts and Wynn.

Ivory, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound power runner who last year

transferred from Washington State to Division II Tiffin, has

impressed Payton so far, rushing 26 times for 96 yards and one

touchdown in two exhibition games. However, he has made some rookie

mistakes and last Saturday against Houston, he was unable to score

on first-and-goal from the 1.

”He ran hard and had good effort. He’s got good balance,”

Payton said. ”He finishes runs well, which has been pretty

exciting to see, and yet there’s a ton of things that he’s working

on like any rookie would be.”

Betts, who in 2006 rushed for more than 1,000 yards with

Washington, has yet to practice since being acquired last week. He

is recovering from a serious left knee injury from last season in

which both his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments

were torn. However, Payton said he expected Betts to see some

playing time in the next preseason game against San Diego on Friday

night.

”Trying to get him into the preseason will be important, just

so we can see what we have,” Payton said. ”Certainly his

experience matters, and yet you still want to see what you have in

the player, especially someone who came off an injury like

that.”

Wynn is a fourth-year pro who spent his first three seasons in

Green Bay. He played in only four games in 2009 before a torn

meniscus in his knee ended his season.

”He’s versatile. He’s had experience in an offense similar to

ours,” Payton said. ”With P.J.’s injury, we felt it necessary to

bring him in here.”

Wynn said he canceled a visit with a team in the fledgling UFL

when he got the call from the Saints.

”I’ll have to get in the playbook, because you can’t make no

plays standing around trying to learn,” Wynn said. ”So that’s the

most important thing I’m worried about.”

Payton agreed that there is some urgency for the new running

backs to learn the play book, but added that the timing could have

been worse.

”It’s harder when it happens in-season and a player arrives on

Tuesday, study the play book, practices Wednesday and he’s playing

in the game,” Payton said.

Payton also indicated that whoever learns quickest likely will

have a role in most games and could find themselves being called

upon to make significant contributions some weeks, as was the case

for the Saints’ top four running backs in their Super Bowl-winning

2009 season.

”Whether it was Pierre, Reggie, Lynell or Mike Bell, all four

of them played a pretty important role for what we did

offensively,” Payton said. ”My experience has been, you’ve got to

have depth at that position because the season’s long and those

guys get hit often.”

NOTES: Starting RT Jon Stinchcomb returned to practice for the

first time since bruising his shoulder in practice last Wednesday.

Reserve S Usama Young also returned from a hamstring pull that had

sidelined him since Aug. 14. … Rookie TE Jimmy Graham and

second-year LB Stanley Arnoux remained out, both with right ankle

sprains. … All-Pro FS Darren Sharper and veteran LB Clint Ingram,

who are both recovering from left knee surgeries, still have yet to

practice since opening camp on the physically unable-to-perform

list.