Kendre Miller and J.T. Gray return to Saints practice on Thursday

Rookie running back Kendre Miller and Pro Bowl special teams ace J.T. Gray returned from injuries to participate at New Orleans Saints practice on Thursday, potentially giving the team a boost in some phases they struggled to get going against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1.

Miller suffered a hamstring injury at practice after the team’s final preseason game and has been sidelined ever since, so his return is especially notable (even if he was reportedly wearing a red non-contact jersey). Jamaal Williams led the Saints with 45 rushing yards and as a team they managed just 69 yards on the ground in the season-opener. It would be huge if Miller can return and inject some big-play ability against the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.

As for Gray: he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury in recent weeks. He’s earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognition for his skills covering punts and kickoffs, and that’s another area the Saints could improve after allowing the Titans to average 9.3 yards per punt return last week. Rookie punter Lou Hedley placed four of his five kicks inside the opposing 20-yard line but saw most of them returned for a net average of just 40.8 yards per try.

We’ll get a better idea of each player’s participation level and availability for Monday night’s game once the Saints publish their first injury report Thursday afternoon.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire