The Saints' depth chart at defensive end remained in limbo three days before the season opener against the Redskins.
Will Smith will start -- if a U.S. federal judge issues a temporary restraining order on the four-game suspension NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed out for his role in the bounty scandal. If not, sixth-year pro Turk McBride will start in Smith’s place for the second consecutive opener.
Smith was suspended for the first two games last year for testing positive for a banned diuretic in the 2008 season. He released a statement this week on the NFL Players Association website expressing hope that he still would be able to play against Washington.
Former Saints players Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove are part of the same suit seeking relief from U.S. district judge Ginger Berrigan, who may rule Friday.
"We have been unfairly labeled and punished by this process,” Smith said. “While we believe in mediation and settlement, the NFL has never expressed a genuine interest in a mediation process that would provide the players with a fair venue that could be trusted, nor made a settlement offer for us to professionally consider, at any time. That is why we have asked the court for just relief.”
Smith had 6.5 sacks last year, a career-high 13 sacks in 2009 and 61.5 sacks in his eight-year career, ranking fourth among Saints players since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
“Any time you lose a player of that magnitude, it’s going to affect you,” Kromer said. “Will has practiced so much in this defense that I believe he could get up to speed in a day. He would be behind on some of the game planning, but as far as knowing what the calls are on defense and what he needed to do, I’m sure he could handle it.”
McBride struggled last year, making 10 tackles with two sacks in eight games. He was inactive for two games and missed six more with an ankle injury that also sidelined him for the playoffs.
That was his first season in New Orleans after spending three in Kansas City and two in Detroit. He made a career-high five sacks with the Lions in 2010.
“He sure looks comfortable in practice,” Kromer said. “Just being here in the second year helps him out obviously.”
Cam Jordan, the Saints' 2011 first-round pick, is the other starting DE. The backups are Junior Galette (4.5 sacks) and Martez Wilson (1 sack).
Injury update: WR Adrian Arrington did not practice Thursday after participating in the full workout a day earlier. Kromer said Arrington had experienced soreness in his knee on Wednesday night. He had meniscus surgery in August.
Reserve OT Marcel Jones missed practice after hurting a knee on the final play of team drills on Wednesday. Kromer said he was still being evaluated to determine the extent of the injury.
WR Marques Colston (left foot) was limited but still is expected to play Sunday. Projected starting LBs David Hawthorne (meniscus) and Curtis Lofton (high ankle sprain) participated fully.
WR Andy Tanner, who was put on the practice squad, still is not practicing after spraining an ankle in the third preseason game.
Loud Noise: Kromer said it would be a team effort replacing the fiery Saturday night speeches that suspended linebackers coach Joe Vitt always gave in the past. Vitt will miss the first six games in a bounty-related suspension.
Loud noise was on Kromer’s mind Thursday. He called for a wild atmosphere at the Superdome on Sunday, given their anger about the bounty suspensions and their frustration with damage caused by Hurricane Isaac.
“We are looking for the motivation of the fans,” he said. “We’re looking for the fans to be motivated by the things that have happened in the offseason. After a storm like we just had and people looking for a place to lose all the negative thoughts they have, we hope that motivates our fans to even be more raucous than they normally are.”
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter@CBSSportsNFLNO.