The New Orleans Saints placed rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins on injured reserve on Monday, according to Nick Underhill of The Advocate. Rankins sustained a broken fibula while participating in goal line drills in practice in mid-August.
Rankins, 22, was carted off the practice field and his placement on injured reserve was expected. The 6-foot-1, 299-pound defensive tackle out of Louisville was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and figured to be a big part of the Saints defense this season.
He still can be, but he won’t be able to rejoin the team until he satisfies the league’s new injured reserve requirements. Those indicate he must be inactive for six weeks, at which point he can resume practicing.
Then he must miss two more games, making his earliest return the Saints’ Week 9 game against the San Francisco 49ers. That means the Saints will be without Rankins for some big games, including rivalry games against the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers.
Rankins was one of the top players in this past draft class, and his impact on the Saints was looking like it could be significant. An excellent interior pass rusher for four-man fronts, Rankins was considered close to NFL ready with little coaching up needed for him to get out there and do some damage.
But his debut will have to wait at least several weeks, and by then the Saints could be embroiled in a hunt for the postseason and would thus be unable to commit the resources and coaching time needed to get Rankins competing for a spot in the lineup.
Rankins had 18 sacks, 133 tackles (31.5 for loss), two forced fumbles and two interceptions in four years with Louisville, though he was only a starter for his junior and senior seasons.