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Countdown to Kickoff, Day 98: Payton Turner is the Saints Player of the Day

We’ve got 98 days to go until the New Orleans Saints kick off their 2024 season against the Carolina Panthers, which means Payton Turner (the current owner of the Saints’ No. 98 jersey) is our Player of the Day.

And it’s all about staying healthy for him in 2024. But before we get into his goals for the upcoming season, let’s recap some key information about the fourth-year pro:

  • Name (Age): Payton Turner (25)

  • Position: Defensive end

  • Height, weight: 6-foot-5, 270 pounds

  • Relative Athletic Score: 9.74

  • 2024 salary cap hit: $3,985,143

  • College: Houston

  • Drafted: 28th overall in 2021 (New Orleans Saints)

  • NFL experience: 4 years

As we mentioned at the top, Turner’s number-one goal in 2024 should be staying healthy. He enjoyed the best offseason of his career last summer and didn’t miss a single practice at training camp but went down with an injury in Week 1’s opening minutes that almost ended his season. He was able to return in time for the regular season finale and registered two quarterback hits with a fumble recovery. He has some ability. He just hasn’t been available often enough.

Injuries were a problem for Turner before 2023. He was limited to just 13 games (out of a possible 34) through his first two years in New Orleans. There have been times when he was benched as a coach’s decision but by and large he’s just been on the mend. At the end of the day he’s played 15 games out of 51 matchups the Saints have had since they drafted him. That isn’t good enough, and it explains why they didn’t pick up his fifth-year option for 2025.

It’s now or never in New Orleans. Turner is going to be a free agent in 2025 just like Chase Young, so at least one of them won’t be returning after this season. Tanoh Kpassagnon’s sudden Achilles injury has put him on ice for the foreseeable future which will open up practice reps for both young pros. And out of Young and Turner, it’s No. 98 who is healthy and practicing right now. He needs to make the most of every opportunity and carry that momentum into September.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire