The New Orleans Saints won’t be too short-handed after all for arguably the team’s biggest game of the 2017-18 regular season. Hours before kickoff of Thursday’s divisional matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore is expected to play.
Lattimore, New Orleans’ first-round pick out of Ohio State, injured his right ankle during his team’s 34-31 win over the Washington Redskins on November 19. He originally tried to return to the field following brief treatment on the sideline, but was forced to leave for the game’s remainder after realizing he lacked the necessary mobility to be effective.
Saints’ RB Mark Ingram, listed as questionable for tonight’s game vs Falcons due to a toe injury, is expected to play, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 7, 2017
The 21-year-old didn’t play in the Saints’ next game, a 26-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, nor did he appear for the following week’s crucial 31-21 victory against the Carolina Panthers. Lattimore’s absence for the latter contest was a surprise considering momentum during the days leading up to that game suggested he would be available to play. After going through pre-game warm-ups, though, New Orleans elected to hold him out of competition.
A leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore has 31 total tackles, two interceptions, nine pass defenses and one forced fumble this season.
“He’s playing hellified defense. He’s pretty much locking up everybody he’s going against,” Saints safety Rafael Bush recently said of Lattimore, per Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones. “We put a lot on his plate as far as going out there and matching up with these guys. For the most part we haven’t been giving him much help and he’s been holding his own. Once you get a corner like that, it makes it easier for your defense to not have to babysit a guy.”