Saints' Graham says he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by Payton on Sunday

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METAIRIE, Louisiana — Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said Friday he expects his playing status in Detroit to be decided by coach Sean Payton on Sunday, shortly before the game.

Graham has returned to practice on a limited basis this week despite a shoulder injury that knocked him out of New Orleans' Week 5 victory over Tampa Bay. He has practiced both Thursday and Friday, and was listed as "questionable" on Friday's injury report.

Graham said the Saints have "done a great job" treating his injury, adding, "We'll see on Sunday. I actually don't know. Sean said he's going to test it and then see where I'm at. So if I can, I can. If I can't, I can't."

He briefly tried to play with the injury against the Buccaneers, making a 23-yard catch, before a team doctor and Payton questioned him about his pain level and encouraged him to leave the game.

The Saints are coming off a bye, which offered Graham an extra week's rest.

Graham leads New Orleans with 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns.

Payton declined to discuss Graham's condition, following his usual policy of not discussing active players' health during the week of a game.

When Graham hurt his foot last season in New England, that injury also occurred before a bye week, and the tight end came back and played a limited role against Buffalo, primarily inside the Bills' 20-yard line. He played a total of 18 snaps and caught a pair of touchdown passes.

On Friday, however, Payton declined to address his approach to using key players in limited roles to reduce their exposure to hits as they return from injuries.

Asked about his philosophy on such matters, he said only, "Next question."

Graham said he'd defer to Payton but would not oppose being limited to running pass routes near an opponent's end zone.

"Who doesn't just want the ball in the red zone? If I could do that for the next 20 years, I would," Graham said. "But that's not how it works at tight end. So, you know, I just want to get back on the field as soon as I can and I'll wait and see whenever I'm allowed to."

NOTES: FB Erik Lorig, who has yet to play this season with an ankle injury, was listed as probable for Sunday's game after practicing without limitations for a third straight day. RB Mark Ingram (hand) and C Jonathan Goodwin (knee), RB Pierre Thomas (illness) and CB Keenan Lewis (toe) also were among those listed as probable. ... CB Patrick Robinson (hamstring) did not practice Friday and was listed as questionable. ... LB Ramon Humber (ankle) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) have been ruled out.


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