Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the New Orleans Saints, they lose their best defensive player.
Jairus Byrd was today placed on season ending IR after he tore his lateral meniscus in thursdays practice. He has already had surgery from Dr. James Andrews - his second surgery of 2014 after having back surgery in the spring.
The Saints are 1-3 in a division that they were meant to top with relative ease. Also 1-3 are Tampa Bay and the two face off this weekend to determine who will be the brunt of the NFC South.
Head Coach Sean Payton says despite the big loss of Byrd the team will be ready to go come Sunday:
"We'll get these guys up to speed, and we'll be ready to go," Payton said. "The thing we can say is not right now. The thing we can say is Sunday at 12 noon. What's most important is we play well Sunday."
So how big is the loss?
Well Mike Triplett, ESPN's Saints reporter thinks its a big one:
Its a huge loss. Jairus Byrd was really the highest rated player on the defense. he was the newcomer in free agency this year he was supposed to add to a defense that was already really good last year. He was supposed to provide a lot of the turnovers that the’d been lacking - he’s been a real turnover machine throughout his career."
He went on, "He was struggling at the beginning of the year but there was alot of confidence that the would be one of the guys to lead them out of the struggles - this is definitely a bad to worse situation, no doubt about it!"
Fourth year veteran Rafael Bush will replace him. Bush steps up with plenty of experience playing safety for New Orleans however it will be down to the regular starters, such as Kenny Vaccaro to step up and start making more plays.
Signing Byrd to a huge six-year $54 million contract was a risk for the Saints who were aware of his injury struggles. After all Byrd missed six games last year with the Bills due to a foot injury and then underwent back surgery in the offseason meaning he missed all off season workouts.
As much of a loss as it may be, the injury does not signal panic stations for the Saints quite yet. With Drew Bree's leading the team they still have more than enough to kick on and put their poor start behind them. No better way to do that than beat divisional rivals Tampa Bay this Sunday.