METAIRIE -- A freak misstep during a routine practice drill Monday has sidelined New Orleans Saints defensive end Greg Romeus for a second consecutive season.
Calling it the team's "biggest setback'' this offseason, Saints acting head coach Joe Vitt said Romeus suffered torn anterior (ACL) and medial collateral (MCL) ligaments in his left knee "just running down the field.''
Vitt said Romeus will undergo surgery and is expected to be sidelined between six to eight months, effectively ending his season before it even began.
Romeus, the first of two seventh-round draft picks in 2011, missed last season while recovering from an ACL tear in his right knee that he suffered during his senior season at the University of Pittsburgh.
Romeus, 6-5, 267, was expected to compete for a roster spot as an edge pass rusher in the 4-3 scheme of first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
"This kid has really worked hard,'' Vitt said Wednesday at the conclusion of OTA No. 9. "The whole team feels bad for him. The coaching staff feels bad for him.
"It's part of the game. This kid has put in the time. He's put in the effort and he's got to go through the whole process again. So, we're going to be there for him and we're going to support him.''
In other injury developments, Vitt said stand-in No. 1 quarterback Chase Daniel suffered a sprained right thumb during practice Monday but he should be 100 percent for the start of training camp July 27.
Also, rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks broke his right hand for the second time in six weeks. He, too, should be ready for training camp. The team's third-round draft pick from the University of Regina in Canada said he initially suffered the injury during rookie minicamp in early May and re-injured it during minicamp last week.
Vitt said Daniel suffered a hairline fracture of the thumb on his throwing hand, an injury that would normally sideline him about 2 1/2 weeks.
"There's no surgery involved,'' Vitt said. "He's in a splint. He'll be ready to go for training camp.''
Daniel said the injury feels like "a jammed thumb'' and he would be able to play a game if necessary.
"It was a freak accident,'' Daniel said. "I wanted to practice today.''
Vitt said only two players are not expected to be ready for the start of training camp -- Romeus and veteran middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who has spent the entire offseason in rehabilitation after undergoing post-season knee surgery.
Vilma has been suspended for the 2012 season for his role in the Bounty scandal. He has appealed his suspension to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and is awaiting a ruling from the league office.
ONE FINAL SWING
The on-field portion of the team's offseason program concluded Wednesday with the ninth of 10 allotted OTAs. A team golf outing is scheduled for Thursday at TPC Louisiana, officially marking the end of their offseason program.
"Sean (Payton) would be very proud of this coaching staff. I think Sean would be very, very proud of the job that this support staff has done from the trainers to the equipment men to the cinematographers. When Sean left here, there was one mandate -- 'Do your job!' And these guys have done their job.'' -- Vitt.
WORTH REPEATING II
"This might be the most talented football team we've had since we've been here. Now the mandate is to put this thing together and move forward.'' -- Vitt.
SAINTS SWAP OUT RECEIVERS (OFFICIAL TEAM RELEASE)
New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced today that the team has claimed WR Derek Moye off waivers from the Miami Dolphins. The club has also waived WR Malcolm Beyah.
Moye, a 6-5, 210-pound wideout, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State, signing with the Dolphins in May. In four seasons for the Nittany Lions, the Rochester, Pa. native finished his college career with 144 receptions for 2,395 yards (16.6 avg.) and 18 touchdowns.
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