METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints placed veteran receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on injured reserve Thursday with a knee injury, which will mean a greater role for backups Cameron Meredith and Tre'Quan Smith.
It's unclear if Ginn has a chance to return later this season after missing the required eight weeks. He had been dealing with a knee injury for more than a month and did not play in Week 5 before the Saints had a bye in Week 6. It was not immediately clear if he suffered a setback or if the Saints decided to give him additional time to recover.
Losing Ginn is a disappointing development for the NFL's top-scoring offense. Ginn, 33, had one of the best seasons of his career after he joined the Saints as a free agent in 2017, posting 53 catches, 787 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season and then 12 catches, 187 yards and a TD in two playoff games.
The Saints do have good depth at the position and an obvious contingency plan in place. Smith, who was drafted in the third round out of UCF, replaced Ginn as New Orleans' primary deep threat in Week 5 and delivered in a big way in a 43-19 rout of the Washington Redskins. Smith had three catches for 111 yards, including a 62-yard TD and a 35-yard score.
Before that, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Smith had just one catch for 18 yards on the season. But he showed his big-play ability throughout training camp and the preseason.
Meredith, meanwhile, plays both in the slot and on the outside. And he has seen his role with the Saints steadily increase since he was a healthy inactive in Weeks 1 and 2.
Meredith, 26, joined the Saints this year as a restricted free agent after he suffered a major knee injury with the Chicago Bears last summer. It took him a little while to get up to speed after he also missed time in training camp with an unspecified ailment. But he had a season-high five catches for 71 yards in Ginn's absence in Week 5.
The Saints may also have an injury concern on the offensive line this week. Both of their starting guards missed practice Thursday (Larry Warford with a back injury and Andrus Peat with a head injury). The team re-signed veteran offensive lineman Michael Ola for added depth.
In positive injury news for the Saints, top cornerback Marshon Lattimore has cleared the concussion protocol after he was sidelined during the first quarter of that Week 5 game against Washington. Lattimore has practiced fully all week and is expected to play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and their ninth-ranked passing offense.