Linebacker Parys Haralson tried to pretend that he didn’t know why a pack of reporters were waiting for him in the New Orleans Saints’ locker room after practice Wednesday.
But when he turned to face the group, Haralson knew exactly what was coming considering the Saints are preparing to go against his former team — the San Francisco 49ers — on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After seven seasons with the 49ers, five of which he spent as a starter, Haralson was dealt to the Saints on Aug. 27 for a 2014 draft pick when outside linebacker Will Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury.
It’ll be hard to go against his old teammates, Haralson said, but he knows it’s part of the business.
“I really look at it as a regular game, and I don’t say that because it’s probably the right thing to say,” said Haralson, who lost his starting job in 2012 when he was sidelined with a triceps injury. “You don’t want to go out and say something hurtful. But that’s really how I feel.
“There’s a bunch of guys I played with over there. I’ve got a bunch of friends in that locker room that will be my friends for life. But I’m a Saint now, and it’s one of those things you’ve got to be prepared for and go out and play your best.”
After rushing for a career-high 145 yards on just 14 carries in Sunday’s 49-17 romp against the Dallas Cowboys, Saints running back Mark Ingram admitted Wednesday that he played with more emotion than usual.
Maybe too much, he said.
Ingram, who missed five games with a toe injury and had 50 rushing yards in the three games he played, celebrated a 13-yard run in the second quarter by spinning the ball on the ground — drawing a 5-yard delay of game penalty.
“I always play with a lot of emotion, with a chip on my shoulder, but it just came out a little bit more Sunday,” he said. “The reason? Who knows? I was just feeling it, man, and it just came out.
“That’s how I play, with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion, and I just have to control it a little better so I don’t hurt the team and get us penalties or anything like that. I guess it did come out a little more than usual.”
The Saints were thin at safety in the second half against the Cowboys with starters Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper inactive and Kenny Vaccaro leaving in the third period with a concussion that he said will sideline him for this week’s game.
But Jenkins, who had a knee injury, worked when the team returned to the practice field Wednesday after almost playing against the Cowboys. He showed up on the practice report Wednesday with a hamstring injury.
“It was a close call last week. … We worked out before the game and just kind of decided it was probably smarter to wait,” he said. “In hindsight, I think that was a good decision. I felt pretty good in practice today, I’ll just take it day by day and hopefully game time I’ll be ready.”
Not practicing for the Saints were Vaccaro (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (concussion), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle) and DE Akiem Hicks (back).
TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot) and DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) were limited, while Jenkins (hamstring), Harper (knee) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) were full.
For the 49ers, DT Ray McDonald (ankle), DT Justin Smith (shoulder) and TE Garrett Celek (hamstring) didn’t practice, while S Eric Reid (concussion), TE Vernon Davis (concussion) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) were limited. Reid is a former LSU standout.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season Wednesday.
Brees completed 34 of 41 pass attempts — hitting 19 in a row in the first half to match his personal-best streak — for 392 yards. He had four TDs and compiled a passer rating of 139.0.
Since joining the Saints in 2006, Brees has won 16 NFC Offensive Player of Week Awards. That ties him for the most in the NFL with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Hall of Fame weekend
Tickets are still available for the Saints Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon, which will be at noon Friday at the Airport Hilton in Kenner, and the All Saints Night Gala on Saturday night at Champions Square next to the Superdome.
Former Saints defensive tackle La’Roi Glover will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and longtime journalist Peter Finney will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis award for his contributions to the organization. For tickets, call (504) 450-9893.
Voting ends Friday
Brees, Ingram and wide receiver Kenny Stills are all up for awards that are determined by online fan voting.
Brees is a candidate for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week honor and Ingram is up for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award.
Stills, who had a 52-yard TD reception against the Cowboys , is a candidate for the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Week honor.
Fans can vote online at www.nfl.com until Friday morning.