Sharper probably sidelined until training camp

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton danced around a clear explanation of the surgery veteran safety Darren Sharper in about the same way he tiptoed around inquiries about the civil suit against the club that alleges he had abused the prescription pain killer Vicodin.

But the bottom line, according to Payton, is that Sharper is likely to be held out of full participation until training camp as he works his way back into shape. It was originally reported that Sharper underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. After he re-signed with the Saints, it was reported that procedure was actually a microfracture procedure, something far more serious.

“He had a procedure done and if you took microfractures and put them in the right column and just a simple scope in the left, from all the feedback we have gotten and in staying in touch with the doctors, it’s probably closer to somewhere in the middle,” Payton said. “It wasn’t as significant as that, but there still was a little bit of that procedure and it will require a little bit of a longer rehab, which is what he’s doing now. He was in town this past week after he signed rehabbing and he’ll continue to do that and get himself ready. I think a realistic framework of when we’d expect him to be out practicing would be for training camp as opposed to the minicamps.”

One wild card the Saints have is young cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, the first-round pick from last year that Payton said will also get work at safety.

“I think with Malcolm we have flexibility,” Payton said. “I said at the end of last year, going through the season he’s someone that has great toughness, good range, exceptional ball skills and he loves the game. So we have flexibility with him and he’s going to get work at safety. But he can come down and play over the slot, he can come down and play outside. We were pleased with his first year and his progression into what we’re doing here. He’s a quick study and that along with his physical traits are good things to have and have helped him.”

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