(WVUE) - Next man up.
In the NFL, it's a mantra employed by just about every team. But very few have had to practice what they preach as much as the Saints this season.
As of Wednesday, the Saints have placed 20 players on injured reserve, nearly half of those were starters. By contrast, the Vikings have only placed seven. Normally that's enough to derail a season. Yet here the Saints are, still standing, in the divisional round of the playoffs.
"Obviously, it'd be nice to be one hundred percent healthy all the way around," Drew Brees said. "But the guys that step into those roles will be ready."
Case in point is the offensive line. Despite numerous injuries forcing them shuffle all season, they've remained one of the strengths of the team. They'll have to do it again Sunday, with their latest victim, Andrus Peat, out for the season. In his place is Senio Kelemete who will be expected to perform admirably in relief just as he's done for most of the season.
"We're fortunate with great depth this year," Terron Armstead, who's been in and out of the lineup, said. "We got guys to put in the extra work to prepare to play. You never know when you're number will be called. So, it's been a huge help for us having the depth."
"Throughout the course of the season, we've had guys banged up," Brees explained. "We've had a lot of guys needing to play. When you get into a situation like this guys that are having to step into those roles have a little bit of experience."