|It's not a slam dunk that tight end Jimmy Graham will play Sunday, although at least this week's he's on the team flight. |
Graham was limited in practice all week. He sprained his right ankle against San Diego on Oct. 7 and did not travel to Tampa Bay last Sunday despite having a bye week to recover.
He will be on the team flight to Denver late Friday afternoon. The question is whether or not he will get on the field.
“He went a little longer today,” Vitt said. “Now we have to wait and see how he does after practice with the swelling. He'll be evaluated by the trainers and the doctors this afternoon.”
Graham pronounced himself ready. He also said he knew he did not get to make the final decision.
"If it were up to me, I'd play,” he said. “I tried to play last week, but they decided to rest me because they didn't want me to have any long-term effects. I think I'm ready now, and hopefully they'll allow me to play.”
Before Tampa Bay, Graham had not missed a game since the Saints' playoff trip to Seattle at the end of 2010, his rookie year, with another ankle injury. He caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards last season and had 25 catches in the first five games this year.
“I'm a tough guy,” he said. “When it comes to game-day, I don't feel anything. I will just do everything I can to help this team win. It's been a long two weeks, and just to be back with the guys feels awesome. I'm excited for this game.”
Last week, he watched New Orleans beat Tampa Bay on TV from the Saints' training room while he received treatment.
“It's been a long two weeks,” he said. “I'm just glad we had a bye week there. It was tough staying here and going to rehab three times a day while the team was out there in Tampa, but they really took care of business. I'm just hoping to be back.”
If Graham can't play, New Orleans likely will activate TE Mike Higgins from the practice squad. Vitt said Higgins would fly with the team.
Sproles back: RB Darren Sproles returned to practice Friday after being excused two days for a family matter. He will play Sunday.
Sproles declined to comment on his absence, which Vitt said was an illness in his family.
“With the game plan and stuff like that, I'm fine,” he said. “I felt good in practice today.”
Another game-time decision: Vitt said LB David Hawthorne, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury suffered against Kansas City, also would be a game-time decision. Hawthorne returned to practice this week but was limited.
Hawthorne started the first three games at weakside linebacker and had nine tackles. Even if he can't play, the Saints are healthier at linebacker than they have been in a while. Jonathan Vilma will play for the second consecutive week with his bounty-related suspension is under appeal, and Jonathan Casillas practiced all week.
Porter questionable: The only Denver player who missed practice Friday was former Saints CB Tracy Porter , who is questionable after experiencing symptoms similar to ones that caused him to have a seizure in August. He was limited Wednesday and did not practice Thursday.
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.