Source: Saints’ Okafor hurts knee, sprains ankle

METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Okafor suffered a bone bruise in his knee and a sprained ankle during Wednesday’s practice, according to a source.

It’s unclear how long Okafor will be sidelined. But the prognosis — which was first reported by the NFL Network — is relatively good news for the sixth-year veteran, who is coming back from a torn Achilles.

Okafor’s injury halted practice for a couple minutes as trainers checked him out on the field and teammates took a knee around him. Okafor was ultimately able to limp off the field under his own power.

Okafor’s health is key for the Saints after he played such a big role in their defense’s resurgence last year. The 27-year-old, who spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, was having a career season in 2017 after signing with New Orleans in free agency. He had 4.5 sacks in 10 games as the starter opposite All-Pro end Cameron Jordan.

If Okafor does miss time at the start of the season, the Saints will likely count even more on rookie Marcus Davenport and second-year pro Trey Hendrickson, among others.

The Saints traded up 13 spots to draft Davenport with the 14th pick in the draft. But the 6-foot-6, 265-pounder from Texas-San Antonio still faces a steep learning curve as a bit of a raw, developmental prospect. And he missed more than a week of training camp and the preseason opener with a minor unspecified injury before making an appearance at the start of Wednesday’s practice.

It seems unlikely that Davenport will be ready to play Friday against the Cardinals. But Saints coach Sean Payton suggested his return to action is near.

“The news we’re hearing is really good, so he’s going to be kind of ramping up and accelerating with regards to getting back on the field,” Payton said of Davenport. “That’s encouraging.”