Aug 14, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Houston Texans defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (91) celebrates after a fumble recovery against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Wm Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY NETWORK

Saints cut DT Jaleel Johnson, sign QB K.J. Costello

The New Orleans Saints released defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and signed quarterback K.J. Costello, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Johnson, 28, was a fourth-round pick by Minnesota in 2017 and has 110 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 65 games (20 starts) with the Vikings (2017-20) and Houston Texans (2021).

Costello, 25, was undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2021. He went to training camp last season with the Los Angeles Chargers and spent time earlier this year with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars.

With starter Jameis Winston sidelined by a foot injury, Costello’s signing adds depth ahead of Saturday’s preseason opener at Houston.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints linebacker Eric Wilson (58) attempts to punch the ball from quarterback Taysom Hill (7) during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ Taysom Hill shifts to tight end, former QB no fan of move

Versatile New Orleans Saints’ offensive weapon Taysom Hill is done at quarterback for now, shifting to tight end on a regular basis under new head coach Dennis Allen.

Allen said Hill can be “one of the best players in the league” as a movement tight end or H-back in the New Orleans offense.

The system has undergone a revamp of sorts with Sean Payton retired, but Allen wants to implement wrinkles that feature Hill in new and evolving ways.

“That’s the nature of the NFL. This isn’t necessarily what I want, it’s what’s best for the team and I’m good with that,” Hill said.

The Saints are bringing Hill along slowly due to a Lisfranc injury in 2021 and a rib injury three days into training camp.

Hill, 31, played quarterback, wide receiver and running back during Payton’s days calling plays. He’s listed as the co-No. 1 tight end with Adam Trautman on the team’s first preseason depth chart. Hill said he wasn’t sure if he’d still get his number called for special teams duty.

“I’m still very raw in a lot of this stuff, but it’s nice to get some exposure,” he said.

The quarterback spot is being manned by Jameis Winston to start the 2022 season. Hill said he wouldn’t say no if he had his name on the quarterback depth chart or was asked to stay in those position meetings as an extra.

“We’ve got a structure of what we’ve been doing in the past,” he said. “I think we’ll just continue to build on that. “I don’t think what I have been doing is going to change, it’s just expanding that role. … They’re trying to give me the best opportunity to be successful.”

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) works during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints QB Jameis Winston (foot) leaves practice early

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston tweaked his foot during practice on Monday and left the session early.

“He went in for some evaluation, I don’t have any update on that,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen said. “Kind of rolling out, I think it was in the 7-on-7 period, he kind of felt it tweak a little bit and so we wanted to go in and get evaluated.”

Winston is making a comeback from a torn ACL he suffered on Oct. 31 last season. He was 5-2 as the new starter under center in the post-Drew Brees era.

NFL Network reported over the weekend that Winston is progressing well but not yet at 100 percent.

Winston signed a two-year deal worth $28 million in March. The contract included $21 million guaranteed.

The No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston was cast aside before the 2020 season when the Buccaneers lured Tom Brady to Tampa in free agency and went on to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl.

Winston turned 28 in January. In 83 career games, he has 20,982 passing yards, 135 touchdown passes and 91 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) runs during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) making more progress

New Orleans Saints wideout Michael Thomas continued his recovery from a left ankle injury by competing in 11-on-11 drills Saturday for the first time since the 2020 season.

Thomas missed the entire 2021 season after surgery on the ankle. He initially hurt it during the 2020 season opener and was limited to seven games.

The three-time Pro Bowler is ramping up his conditioning and looking to improve the strength in the ankle.

Saints coach Dennis Allen can see the progress.

“Honestly there was a couple of times he ended up on the ground,” Allen told reporters on Saturday. “That’s all part of the process in building that confidence. I think he’s in a good mindset right now, I think he looks good physically. I’m excited about where he’s at.”

Thomas was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after setting the league’s single-season record with 149 receptions. He also had 1,725 yards and nine touchdown catches that season.

Overall, Thomas has 510 receptions for 5,950 yards and 32 touchdowns in 70 games (62 starts) over five seasons.

Three-time Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu (personal reasons) also appeared in 11-on-11 drills for the first time during training camp.

“That was cool to see,” Allen said of Mathieu. “I was excited about getting him out here. We’ve kind of held the reins back on him, our decision more so that it’s been his. It’s part of the ramp-up process, so we’ll continue to ramp him up.”

Also, linebacker Kiko Alonso was a no-show at Saturday’s practice with multiple reports indicating he has decided to retire.

Alonso, who will turn 32 on Aug. 14, officially signed with the Saints on Friday after missing the previous two seasons due to injuries.

In 86 career games (67 starts) with the Buffalo Bills (2013), Philadelphia Eagles (2015), Miami Dolphins (2016-18) and New Orleans, Alonso had 588 tackles, 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three sacks.

–Field Level Media

May 14, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints safety Smoke Monday (28) during rookie camp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints rookie S Smoke Monday confirms torn ACL

New Orleans Saints safety Smoke Monday confirmed he will miss the 2022 season with a torn ACL.

The 22-year-old undrafted rookie from Auburn injured his knee in practice on Tuesday.

“First of all, let me just say that I’d want to thank the Saints organization for providing me the chance of a lifetime to come and showcase my godly ability,” Monday wrote Friday on Instagram. “I just want to set the record straight for anyone who might have any concerns about my knee. I have suffered a torn ACL and will miss the season, but I want everyone to know I’m doing great and in good spirits, and will be having surgery very soon.

“I’m planning to use this time to get healthier and continue to learn the system inside out. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has called to check up on me about my injury. Trust that I’ll be 10 times stronger when I return. God only gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers and I am unquestionably one of them.”

Monday returned three of his five interceptions for touchdowns and added 171 tackles and six sacks in 44 games at Auburn from 2018-21.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints middle linebackers Alex Anzalone (47) and Kiko Alonso (54) walk off the field after their game against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Saints bring back LB Kiko Alonso on 1-year deal

Inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, who missed the past two NFL seasons due to injury, will attempt a comeback with the New Orleans Saints.

Alonso signed a one-year deal with the Saints, where he spent the 2019 season, multiple reports said Thursday.

Alonso tore his right ACL on Jan. 6, 2020, in a NFC wild-card game between the Saints and Minnesota Vikings. It was the third torn ACL of his playing career.

New Orleans traded Alonso to the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, but he never suited up for them as he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated from the physically unable to perform list.

Alonso, who will turn 32 on Aug. 14, saw action in 13 games for the Saints (four starts) in 2019, recording 31 tackles and one pass breakup.

He finished runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year back in 2013 with the Buffalo Bills, but missed the 2014 campaign with an ACL tear in his left knee and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in a deal that brought LeSean McCoy to Buffalo.

In 86 career games (67 starts) with Buffalo, Philadelphia, the Miami Dolphins (2016-18) and New Orleans, Alonso has 588 tackles, 10 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three sacks.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Trevor Penning (70) during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints first-rounder booted from practice for fighting

The New Orleans Saints kicked rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning out of practice Wednesday for fighting.

It was the third straight day the first-round draft pick (19th overall) got into a skirmish at training camp.

Penning, 23, and defensive lineman Malcolm Roach were sent to the locker room after Wednesday’s scuffle.

“We don’t have time for that,” head coach Dennis Allen said.

On Monday, the 6-foot-7, 321-pound Penning battled defensive ends Payton Turner and Taco Charlton.

On Tuesday, Penning’s dance partners were defensive back J.T. Gray and defensive end Scott Patchan.

Drafted out of Northern Iowa, Penning entered training camp as the backup to starting left tackle James Hurst.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints S Tyrann Mathieu rejoins team

Safety Tyrann Mathieu joined the New Orleans Saints at training camp on Wednesday after missing the first six days to address a “personal matter.”

Mathieu, born in New Orleans and developed at LSU, reported to camp on Tuesday night. He signed a three-year, $28.3 million contract in May and is expected to start alongside Marcus Maye in the reconstructed Saints’ defense.

Head coach Dennis Allen said earlier this week he didn’t have a timetable for Mathieu to join the team on the practice field.

The three-time All-Pro, who turned 30 on May 13, started 16 games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021 and posted 76 tackles, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), three fumble recoveries and one sack.

A third-round pick out of LSU in 2013, Mathieu has 26 interceptions (three pick-sixes) and 10 sacks in 129 contests (120 starts) with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-17), Houston Texans (2018) and Chiefs. He won Super Bowl LIV in his first season with Kansas City.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Chris Herndon (89) and Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Joe Schobert (93) and cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) in action at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: TE Chris Herndon expected to sign with Saints

The New Orleans Saints are expected to sign free-agent tight end Chris Herndon, multiple reports said Tuesday.

Herndon, 26, played in 16 games (five starts) for the Minnesota Vikings last season, catching four passes for 40 yards and one touchdown.

He played in 33 games (25 starts) for the New York Jets over the previous three seasons, with 71 receptions for 796 yards and seven TDs.

A fourth-round pick by the Jets out of Miami (Fla.) in 2018, Herndon is coming off a four-year contract worth approximately $3.2 million.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) works on receiver drills during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Michael Thomas on return: ‘It’s a blessing’

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was spotted running routes and catching passes during practice on Wednesday.

While Thomas did not participate in full team drills, his individual work represents a step in the right direction. He was cleared from the physically unable to perform list after being placed on it Tuesday.

Thomas missed the entire 2021 season after a setback recovering from the ankle injury he initially sustained in the opener of the 2020 campaign.

“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “I didn’t want to come up here and be emotional or anything but it was a blessing to be back out there with the guys. Be able to put my hand in the pile and be out there and perfect my craft.”

Thomas, 29, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro. He was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 after setting the league’s single-season record with 149 receptions for 1,725 yards.

“He wants to be out there, he wants to help this team win games,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen said.

–Field Level Media