AP source: Saints lose Smith to injury for season
New Orleans outside linebacker Will Smith, one of the Saints’
top pass-rushers during the past nine seasons, has a knee injury
that will sideline him for the 2013 season, a person familiar with
the situation said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
anonymity Monday because the team has not commented publicly on
Smith’s injury, which occurred Sunday during an exhibition game
Smith, drafted 18th overall by New Orleans in 2004, spent his
first nine seasons as a defensive end. This year, he switched to
outside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4
Smith was a projected starter, as was fellow outside linebacker
Victor Butler, who also is recovering from knee surgery that will
sideline him most or all of the season.
Now it appears that fourth-year pro Junior Galette and
third-year pro Martez Wilson will step into starting roles after
each of them missed substantial portions of the preseason. Galette
has an unspecified leg injury, while Wilson has only recently
returned to practice wearing a brace over his left elbow, which he
dislocated early in training camp.
The extent of Smith’s injury was first reported by the website
Pro Football Talk.
The Saints were confident Smith would be effective in Ryan’s new
defense because he was expected to serve in primarily a
pass-rushing role and only sporadically drop into short pass
He had one sack this preseason during the Saints’ victory over
Oakland on Aug. 16. He was also credited with a tackle for a loss
and a quarterback hit this preseason.
Smith said he’d lost about 10 pounds, down to around 268, to
handle some of the outside linebacker duties which will be new to
Smith had played in no fewer than 14 games in any of his first
nine seasons. His best season, statistically, was in 2009, when he
had 13 sacks for the lone Super Bowl championship squad in Saints
As recently as last week, Smith expressed confidence he would
thrive in his adjusted role.
”For the most part, I’m going to be doing the same thing I’ve
always done and that’s why I said it wasn’t that big of a
transition,” Smith said.
Instead, Smith will miss an entire season for the first time in
what is now his 10th year in the NFL.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org