New Orleans Saints tackle Terron Armstead (72) on the field during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 11-16. (Perry Knotts via AP)
The return of two starters _ left tackle Terron Armstead and receiver Willie Snead _ could improve a Saints offense that already is ranked seventh in the NFL through its first four games.
Both players were listed as active and on the field for warm-ups before New Orleans faced the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Armstead _ the Saints' second-highest paid offensive player behind quarterback Drew Brees _ is active for the first time since shoulder surgery in mid-June.
He was expected to miss four to six months, so his return is slightly ahead of schedule, but not a moment too soon because starting right tackle Zach Strief has been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that occurred in London in Week 4.
Armstead's return allows Andrus Peat to move from left tackle back to left guard, where he trained most of the offseason. First-round draft choice Ryan Ramczyk, who has had turns playing both tackle spots this season, is now replacing Strief on the right side.
Armstead practiced on a limited basis this week and was listed as questionable on Friday, but insinuated he expected to play when he said, "It feels great. I’ve been excited all week."
Snead, who caught 72 passes for 895 yards and four TDs last season, was eligible to return in Week 4 from a three game suspension stemming from an offseason drunk driving arrest. However, his return was sidetracked by a sore hamstring.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead warms up before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
“I’m going to be totally excited," Snead said this week when asked about the prospect of starting his season in the Superdome. "I’m ready to go. I will be ready for sure. My mind’s going to be right and I’m definitely going to bring the energy.”
With both Snead and Armstead, New Orleans' Week 5 bye provided an extra week to come back without missing a game.