Saints expect Sheldon Rankins to practice on Wednesday

AP

When defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins broke his fibula in August, there was confidence around the team that the first-round pick would be able to return to action during the regular season.

It looks like all is on track for that return. Now that six weeks have passed since he was put on injured reserve, Rankins can be designated as the Saints’ player to return and begin practicing with the team. Coach Sean Payton said on Wednesday that the team expects him to do just that when the team works out later in the day.

Rankins won’t be eligible to play in a game until Week Nine when the Saints travel to Santa Clara to take on the 49ers, but the practice time leading up that date should allow the rookie to knock off some rust and reacquaint himself with the defense after his extended layoff.

Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davidson and John Jenkins have been the defensive tackles for the Saints in Rankins’ absence for a Saints defense that has taken up a familiar spot at the bottom of the league’s rankings.