McAllister will miss Saturday’s preseason opener

Published 7:23 pm Friday, August 11, 2006

Just because Deuce McAllister is practicing well and says he’s ready to play doesn’t mean new head coach Sean Payton is prepared to risk injuring a marquee player in the first preseason game.

McAllister was on the field Thursday for the Saints final practice before traveling to Nashville to face the Titans on Saturday night, but Payton said neither the veteran running back nor tight end Ernie Conwell (knee) will play.

“If we were playing in the regular season, they’d be set to go,” Payton said. “But with the type of injury they’ve had, it gives me another week. We’re better served waiting just one more week.”

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McAllister tore his anterior cruciate ligament last October. He has looked strong in his recovery during training camp, even practicing more during double sessions that he had anticipated.

He also played a few series in the Saints’ scrimmage last Saturday. Conwell had a knee operation to repair his posterior cruciate ligament. He also had wrist surgery.

“The nature of the injuries and where they’re at rehab-wise, I’m excited about their recoveries and I think well wait to the Dallas week to start both of them,” Payton said.

Quarterback Drew Brees also is recovering from offseason surgery. So far, he has come back strong from the operation to repair torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder and he is expected to play through most of the first quarter, Payton said.

Brees playing means Adrian McPherson and Jason Fife may not see any action.

Payton said he intends to play reserve quarterback Jamie Martin in the second quarter, followed by Todd Bouman “at some point in the third quarter.”

“After that well see,” Payton said. “It’s hard to play more than three and get a good evaluation.”

Meanwhile, Donte Stallworth, who has practiced the last two days coming off a strained groin, will dress for the game, but it was not clear Thursday night if he would play, Payton said.

Stallworth has been practicing as the third receiver behind Joe Horn and Devery Henderson.

CUTS AND AQUISITIONS: The Saints acquired their third and fourth new player in the past three days. One is rookie defensive end Javon Nanton, a 6-foot-3, 241-pound defensive end out of Miami. The other is Josh Williams, a 6-3, 285 pound defensive tackle with seven years’ experience in the NFL.

During the previous two days, the Saints brought in veteran linebacker Nate Wayne and rookie offensive guard Stefon Wheeler.

To make room on the roster, the Saints waived often injured linebacker Cie Grant and fullback Jamar Martin.

Meanwhile, Tommy Davis cleared waivers and is now on injured reserve, meaning he’ll be out for the year but does not count against the Saints in terms of available roster spots.

INJURIES: Payton said none of those who spent practice on stationary exercise bikes because of injuries during Thursday’s practice is expected to play Saturday night.

They are starting guards Montrae Holland (knee) and Jermane Mayberry (shoulder), along with linebacker Tommy Polly (knee), receiver and kick returner Michael Lewis (knee), defensive tackle Willie Whitehead (ankle), Defensive tackle Rodney Leslie (knee), cornerback Mike McKenzie (hamstring) and offensive tackle Chad Setterstrom (knee). Punter Mitch Berger also is out with a groin injury.