As the New Orleans Saints begin their 2018 Mini-Camp later on this morning, fans in attendance at the first of three straight days worth of practices unfortunately will not get to physically see "in person" one of the players that they were looking forward to seeing most: the team's #1 draft pick Marcus Davenport, who it was reported has suffered a thumb injury that will require surgery and keep him out of action until the team's Training Camp later next month.
According to New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill, Davenport's injury is not considered significant and he reports that Davenport should be ready to go in time for training camp.
"While this is somewhat of a setback and something both he and the team would have rather avoided, it shouldn't be much a hindrance if Davenport's recovery follows the expected timeline. When minicamp breaks this week, players leave the facility and are on their own until returning for training camp at the end of July. That gives Davenport about six weeks to recover."
Nick Underhill, New Orleans Advocate — June 11, 2018
The Saints traded up in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft a few months ago to select Davenport, a raw but extremely athletically gifted pass-rusher out of UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio).
He's considered one of the most explosive EDGE rushers in the draft, and the Saints obviously felt he both fills a 'team need' for them and that he has the potential to develop into a superstar-caliber player for their rapidly-improving defense, when taking into account that it cost them both their 2018 and 2019 first-round picks — which they sent to the Green Bay Packers to complete the deal.
So....What does this mean for the Saints defense moving forward?
That all depends, of course.
Davenport's thumb injury possibly could affect his overall performance if it were to linger for any length of time, as defensive linemen and especially EDGE pass rushers have to use their hands to get off of blocks along the line of scrimmage and also to initiate and utilize a series of pass-rushing moves; but so long as everything goes to plan and if the thumb heals as expected, it shouldn't affect his overall development too much.
As NFL.com "Insider" Ian Rapoport later Tweeted out on Twitter: Davenport suffered a minor ligament injury that should have him wearing a cast for at least 3 weeks, while it heals.
It’s a minor ligament injury that’ll put him in a cast for 3 weeks… then a few more weeks to get it right. Perfect timing and explains why Davenport should be fine by camp. https://t.co/A2HLhHOVSQ
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 11, 2018
The thing to remember in Davenport's particular situation is that he is still LEARNING how to even play the position; and with the guidance of well-respected Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen, the thumb injury should only serve as a minor setback and shouldn't have any affect on that maturation process.
What it also means is increased snaps for the next 3 days at Mini-Camp for Alex Okafor, Trey Hendrickson, and Al-Quadin Muhammad (among others) on the outside edge / right defensive end position, opposite of All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan.
Okafor will be hoping to show that he's recovered nicely from a torn Achilles injury that ended his season prematurely last year; while both Hendrickson and Muhammad will both be hoping to show their on-going development at the position, after they were both selected as rookies in last year's 2017 NFL Draft.