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Jairus Byrd injury: Saints safety out for season with torn meniscus

Jairus Byrd's season is over.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints will have to go the rest of the season without Jarisu Byrd, who tore his meniscus in Thursday's practice, per Mike Triplett. Byrd was the Saints' biggest offseason acquisition, as New Orleans gave him a six-year, $56-million contract to take over the free safety position.

In the short term, though, this won't harm the Saints too much. Byrd had struggled both in coverage and in run support during the first four games, and the New Orleans defense as a whole has been a bit of a disaster anyway.  But there will be a dropoff: Rafael Bush should take over for Byrd, and Bush is not as good as Byrd is. Plus, the Saints were very happy to play three-safety defenses, and if they want to continue that trend they'll now have to turn to rookie fifth-round pick Vinnie Sunseri.

The 1-3 Saints play the 1-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The winner of that contest will stay in the division race, while the loser will have a very tough time to pull something out of the ashes of the 2014 NFL season. And now the Saints will have to do so without their best (or at least highest-paid) defender.