Two New Orleans Saints went into this season needing to show out during a contract year: wide receiver Willie Snead and defensive back Kenny Vaccaro. They’ve each had a number of issues pop up throughout the year, putting their futures in New Orleans in doubt, and now Vaccaro is fighting through another injury.
NFL Network’s national insider Ian Rapoport reported early this morning that Vaccaro is dealing with a wrist injury, apparently suffered during this week’s regular practices:
Vaccaro has already damaged his groin muscles about midway through the season and was clearly not fully-recovered once he returned, sometimes looking like he’s been running in mud as teammates and opponents outpaced him. He’s also become something of a penalty magnet; only second-year cornerback Ken Crawley has been flagged more often (10 times) than Vaccaro (8 times), and Crawley has had fewer of his penalties accepted (6, to Vaccaro’s 7). It’s been a year to forget for both Vaccaro and Snead, who has his own litany of problems.
We don’t yet know the severity of Vaccaro’s wrist injury, but he was implied to be a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after being left off the injury report. We’ll know more once Thursday’s practice updates are released this afternoon. The Saints are probably counting on Vaccaro to play more faux-linebacker in place of A.J. Klein, who was placed on injured reserve following sports hernia surgery.
Should he miss this climactic game against the Atlanta Falcons, Vaccaro’s chances of staying with the Saints on a contract extension plummet. Look for increased snap counts from second-year Ohio State Buckeyes product Vonn Bell and longtime reserve Rafael Bush, as well as special teams ace Chris Banjo in Vaccaro’s absence.
Personally I don’t think the drop-off is that large due to Vaccaro’s depleted athleticism and reputation for penalties, but you still want the Saints to be as close to full-strength as possible for this game.