The New Orleans Saints officially designated fullback John Kuhn as a candidate to return from injured reserve, per the Advocate’s Nick Underhill. Kuhn tore a biceps muscle during practices abroad in London prior to the Saints’ shutout win over the Miami Dolphins, and has since been replaced by Zach Line, who has played admirably.
Kuhn now faces a three-week window to practice, prove he carries a clean bill of health, and is game-ready. New Orleans attempted to bring back cornerback Delvin Breaux after since-ousted team doctors botched their diagnosis on his broken leg, but Breaux had not recovered well-enough to play in 2017. The soonest Kuhn can suit up on gameday will be in the divisional round of the playoffs.
A great read on what Kuhn’s been up to in between rehabbing his injury comes from John Katzenstein at NOLA.com; the veteran fullback has been proactive, spending a lot of time assisting the position coaches and advance scouts.
This shuts the door on a possible return for rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone, who re-aggravated an old shoulder injury early in that win against the Dolphins. Teams only have two “designated to return” tags they can use every year, which is ridiculous (but that’s another discussion).
If Kuhn is able to return, he still has something to offer to a Saints offense struggling to convert critical downs. Kuhn is the closest thing to a sure-thing in short-yardage situations in football, having converted a first down on 12 of 14 attempts with three yards or fewer to go last year. He had just one carry for two yards (getting the first down!) before his 2017 exit, which came when the Saints had a bloated backfield of Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Adrian Peterson jostling for carries.
We’ll see how this turns out. Maybe, like Breaux, Kuhn just isn’t ready to play again this year. Maybe he’s rejuvenated and ready to lead the running game to even greater heights. Maybe Saints head coach Sean Payton is busy devising a full-house package featuring Kuhn, Line, Ingram, and Kamara all in the backfield together - with Taysom Hill as the wildcat quarterback, of course.
Either way this goes, the message is clear and great: the Saints fully expect to be active in the thick of the playoffs race, and they want Kuhn to be there with them.