Trevor Penning designated to return from Saints injured reserve list

Here’s some good news: the New Orleans Saints designated rookie left tackle Trevor Penning to return from injured reserve on Thursday, opening a 21-day window in which he may practice with teammates and work his way back into the lineup. Penning must pass a physical and prove he can fully participate in practice before he’ll be cleared to join the 53-man roster, but so far he’s on the right track.

“Four weeks on a scooter, then I was four weeks in a walking boot. So eight weeks total,” Penning told reporters at NewOrleans.Football on Thursday. He reflected on the procedure to insert a metal plate in his foot and months of rehab that followed, adding, “Wasn’t able to really wear a left shoe, I guess, but other than that it’s been good.”

James Hurst hasn’t been bad at left tackle for New Orleans, but there’s room for an upgrade there. Whether Penning starts over the veteran when healthy remains to be seen. He didn’t look ready in training camp practices and two preseason games before going down with this turf toe injury, and now the admittedly-raw prospect has missed out on half his rookie season while recovering. So there’s a very real chance that he’ll be coming off the bench as the sixth man once he’s able to play.

The Saints could see enough in practice to make a move, but at this point it feels unlikely. Penning has to earn his opportunity just like anyone else. The last time we saw him, he didn’t look like someone ready to start on Sundays.

But hey, we’ll see where it goes. Penning has to be officially activated first, and this designation to return is just the first step in that process. He’s got three weeks to progress into a heavier workload and make his case for reps currently going to Hurst. Stay tuned.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire