Barrett Ruud started all but one NFL game from the beginning of 2007 until last November, when a groin injury sidelined him for the last seven weeks at Tennessee. Given that experience, the Saints jumped at the chance to trade for him on Monday after losing three LBs to injury against Jacksonville three days earlier.
“He is a guy that I personally worked out when he was in college (at Nebraska),” interim Saints coach Joe Vitt said Tuesday. “He has a real good feel for the game. He has played at a high level in this league. He has played on some of the top defenses in this league. He's 29 years old, so he still has a lot of football ahead of him. We will introduce him to our system and see where he can get to by this weekend.”
Ruud arrived Tuesday but did not practice because he had not taken his physical. If he passes it, he will begin working with the team on Wednesday. His health is a bit of a concern -- a shoulder problem limited him in the Titans' offseason program, and a knee issue kept him out of Tennessee's preseason opener.
In four years as a full-time starter for Tampa Bay from 2007 to 2010, Ruud averaged 128 tackles.
“I played against (Ruud) a couple of years when he was in Tampa,” said Curtis Lofton, whom Ruud will replace at MLB until he recovers from a high ankle sprain. “He was a great player as a middle linebacker, and I think he can play all three positions. He's a smart guy.”
Veteran Scott Shanle, the only Saints starting linebacker left standing, played with Ruud for two years of college at Nebraska. In 2002, when Ruud was a sophomore and Shanle was a senior, Ruud had 91 tackles on his way to becoming the Cornhuskers' all-time leading tackler.
“He was a heck of a player,” Shanle said. “He has great instincts. I talked to him last night. He's excited and I'm excited to get him here. Now it just comes down to him trying to cram in and learn the defensive playbook as fast as possible.”
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSportsNFLNO.