Brodrick Bunkley injury: Saints NT out several weeks with calf injury

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

An improved Saints defense will be without its starting nose tackle for a while as Brodrick Bunkley recovers from a calf injury.

Brodrick Bunkley will miss the next "several weeks" for the New Orleans Saints because of a calf injury, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Bunkley was forced to leave Sunday's season-opening win over the Atlanta Falcons with a leg injury, and was spotted after the game wearing a walking boot.

The news of Bunkley's loss is disappointing given how well the Saints' defense has seemingly jelled since the unit's historically bad 2012 season. The Saints' defense, led by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, held the Falcons to 17 points, forcing Atlanta's offense to stall repeatedly after midfield. Bunkley played an important role as the starting nose tackle in Ryan's 3-4 defense. Atlanta managed just 88 yards rushing on the day.

According to Rapoport, Bunkley's injury is not season-ending. Bunkley has a chance to return later in the year and contribute to a potential Saints playoff run. In the mean time, rookie third-round draft pick John Jenkins out of Georgia could play an expanded role in Bunkley's place.

The Saints will have to carry Bunkley on the roster while he recovers, Rapoport notes. Jonathan Vilma currently occupies the team's only designated for return slot on injured reserve.

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