Saints glad to have 1st-round pick back at practice

Cesar Ruiz missed season opener with ankle injury

The New Orleans Saints’ top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz, was back on the practice field Thursday after missing the team’s season-opening win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with an ankle injury.

Saints coach Sean Payton said it was good to see the former Michigan standout back on the field.

”He’s feeling a lot better and, obviously, a guy that we’re excited about getting back in to the swing of things,” Payton said. “He’s someone that we felt had a real good camp so it was good to see him back out there.”

The Saints selected Ruiz with the 24th overall pick in this year's draft following 6-foot-4, 316-pound lineman’s All-Big 10 junior season with the Wolverines.

He was competing for the starting center or right guard position along with Erik McCoy before suffering the injury in training camp.

With Ruiz out, McCoy started and center and Nick Easton saw the majority of the snaps at guard Sunday against the Buccaneers.

“We’ll continue to work with him at both spots and Nick’s doing well,” Payton said. “We’ll get a lot of work between the three of those guys.”

The Saints also saw the return of running back and special teams contributor Dwayne Washington on Thursday. Washington was on the reserve/COVID list but was activated Thursday.

“I think the first day he arrived back in the building everyone kind of kept their distance… we gave him a hard time but he’s doing good,” Payton said.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara said the team was glad to see Washington back at practice.

“He had to deal with the (COVID) protocol and stuff like that, but he's back, he looked good, knocking some rust off a little bit,” Kamara said. “Big for special teams, he contributes there just as much as anybody and in in our room. When one of you guys is gone it's kind of like, you look back and you're looking at his seat like dang, man, I want Dwayne here. So, it's good to have him back.”