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Saints cut Bouman, Bryant and add five new players

The New Orleans Saints released five players Sunday, including backup quarterback Todd Bouman and defensive lineman Tony Bryant to make room for five new players claimed off waivers.

The new players were tackle Rob Pettiti, defensive back DeJuan Groce, defensive back Curtis Deloatch, wide receiver Terrance Copper and defensive end Michael Haynes.

The three other players released were defensive back Anwar Phillips, tackle Ben Archibald and wide receiver Bethel Johnson. Johnson sprained his knee in a kick return during a preseason game against Minnesota.

The Saints were able to re-sign to their practice squad several players that they had cut after other teams did not claim them off waivers. They were former LSU linebacker E.J. Kuale, defensive tackle Brandon Villareal, running back Jamaal Branch and wide receiver Chase Lyman, who was drafted by the Saints in the fourth round in 2005.

Bouman had been in the league for nine years, the last three with the Saints and the other six with Minnesota. He would have been the Saints’ third quarterback, but a relatively expensive one.

Payton said his decision to have only two quarterbacks on the active roster and only one punter who’s health remains in question was a calculated risk taken for practical reasons.

“That’s a tough decision. What’s the alternative when you look at it? Are you keeping 53 and are part of the 53 two punters, three quarterbacks? It’s difficult when you start looking at the numbers,” Payton said. “The punter issue was definitely something we spent a lot of time on and you’ve got to just trust maybe your gut on some of those things.”

There is a third healthy quarterback now under contract. Jason Fife was signed to the practice squad Monday. He played sparingly in the preseason. It’s the first time the second-year player out of Oregon has made a practice squad.

“I didn’t get a chance to really do much in the game I got in, so I was thinking practice squad was probably my best bet right now,” Fife said. “It’s a step in the right direction. It’s not where I want to be, but from here I can learn and build on it and we’ll see what happens down the road.”

In addition to Fife, the Saints added defensive ends Eric Moore and Scott Scharff to the practice squad, which was up to seven players and had one remaining opening as of Monday night.

• Backup running back Aaron Stecker was back at practice on Monday but on a limited basis, Payton said. He said Stecker would likely be questionable for Sunday’s game at Cleveland.

Payton said defensive tackle Rodney Leslie is also starting to participate in practice more, although he was doubtful for the first game.

Kickoff Sunday is set for Noon.