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Darren Sharper says return to Saints may be "on the horizon"


Darren SharperDarren Sharper

NEW ORLEANS – Veteran free agent safety Darren Sharper on Friday said the possibility exists that he could rejoin the New Orleans Saints in time for their regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers on Sept. 8.

Sharper, 35, recently worked out for New England Patriots officials and claims to be fully recovered from micro-fracture knee surgery nearly 18 months ago.

Sharper said his agent, Joel Segal, is expected to talk with Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis once the team returns from Oakland following Sunday night’s nationally-televised exhibition game against the Raiders.

Asked if Segal has talked recently with Saints officials, Sharper replied via text: “Yes sir. Something’s on the horizon once they return from California. My agent told me those exact words.  And I said, ‘I’m ready.’ ‘’

While Sharper has maintained that he wants to sign with a team that affords him an opportunity to start, his role in New Orleans likely would be as a backup to starting third-year free safety Malcolm Jenkins.

In addition to Jenkins and starting strong safety Roman Harper, other safeties on the Saints roster include Pierson Prioleau, Paul Oliver, Chris Reis, Jonathon Amaya (acquired in a trade from Miami for Reggie Bush and an undisclosed draft pick), DeAndre McDaniel and Isa Abdul-Quddus.

Sharper currently is tied for fifth all-time in the NFL with 63 career interceptions, including nine and three touchdown returns during the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV season in 2009. He has played 14 seasons with the Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Saints.

The five-time Pro Bowl player spent the first half of the 2010 season on the PUP list while continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery. He played in eight games last season and started against the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round.

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