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Saints activate Sheldon Rankins, release Khalif Barnes

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Dennis Allen and the Saints defense gets a shot in the arm with the team’s 12th overall pick returning to action.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Minicamp Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the New Orleans Saints have activated rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. The NFL transaction wire confirmed the move on Saturday afternoon, as the team waived offensive lineman Khalif Barnes and sent linebacker James Laurinaits to injured reserve. Rumors swirled earlier today that the move was happening by The Advocate’s Nick Underhill.

It’s been a long time coming for Rankins, who went down with a broken fibula on Aug. 15 during training camp. It was originally thought that Rankins could make an early season return, but the team elected to place him on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season.

Assuming Rankins plays against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9 in the late kickoff, it will be interesting to see if the Saints keep him on a pitch count or immediately use him as planned at the beginning of the year. Either way, the defense is getting healthier at the right time of the season.