Saints top pick Sheldon Rankins carted off practice field

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Monday, August 15, 2016

The New Orleans Saints' top draft pick, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, was carted off the field during Monday's practice, according to multiple reports from the team's training camp site in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Rankins, who was drafted with the 12th overall pick, went down with an apparent injury during a set of live goal-line drills. No specific details have been reported yet on the nature or the severity of the injury. Coach Sean Payton is scheduled to address the media after practice.

If the injury is significant, it will be another big blow to a Saints defense that also lost second-year pass-rusher Hau'oli Kikaha to a knee injury this summer. The Saints were woeful on defense last season, ranking last in the NFL in yards per rush and yards per pass play. Rankins was expected to be a big part of their turnaround.

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Rankins is an athletic and versatile big man who had 14 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss over his final two years at Louisville.

Rankins has mostly been working with the first-string defense this summer, though he has been rotating at the three-technique spot with another one of the Saints' key acquisitions -- veteran free agent Nick Fairley. Depending on the severity of Rankins' injury, Fairley could become much more important to the Saints' defense.

Some good news Monday for the Saints: A source told ESPN Insider Adam Schefter that linebacker Stephone Anthony, who suffered a leg injury last week, could miss a couple of weeks but "absolutely is expected back by the start of the season."