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Saints activate defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins from IR

Rankins hasn’t played since Week 8 due to an MCL injury

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints officially activated defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins from IR on Saturday leading up to their game against the Falcons, adding more depth to an already impressive defensive line rotation. Rankins, who was sidelined in Week 8 with an MCL injury, could be used rotationally behind David Onyemata and Malcolm Brown. The team made the announcement on Saturday.

The 2016 first-round pick out of Louisville was an integral part of the Saints’ 2018 run, before an Achilles tear in the postseason sidelined him until Week 4 of the 2019 season. Since then, Rankins hasn’t been quite the same player, but he’s been solid when used in a rotational sense.

Rankins is currently playing for a new contract, and if he performs well in these final weeks the Saints’ cap situation may lead to him playing elsewhere in 2021.

Wide receiver Marquez Callaway was moved to IR with a knee injury to clear Rankins’ return to the active roster.

Rankins has made an impact in the games he has played. The interior lineman has seven hits on the quarterback in seven games, and he’s played at least 50 percent of snaps in five of those games. He also has 1.5 sacks this season.

It’s likely Rankins will be eased back into the rotation against the Falcons, particularly with the defense playing at the level it’s playing. However, if the Saints are going to be making any type of run, expect to see a lot of Rankins in subsequent weeks. There’s no denying he helps to make this defense better, and with a new contract on the line, he has a lot to play for himself.