METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins returned to the practice field Wednesday morning, which means he is getting closer to making his NFL debut.
Six weeks ago, the Saints placed him on injured reserve because of a broken fibula. It is an injury the team's first round draft pick suffered during training camp in August.
New IR rules specify that he has to sit out eight weeks. Barring a setback in practice, Rankins' first NFL game will be Week 9 at San Francisco
Rankins' return is right on time considering the team's current state on that side of the ball. They are 31st in the league giving up a league-worst 34 points per game.
Rankins won't solve all of the Saints defensive problems, but his return will help.