METAIRIE, La. — Saints hard-luck defensive end Greg Romeus will likely miss his second straight full season after injuring his left knee during voluntary offseason practices this week.
Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who disclosed the injury after Wednesday's voluntary offseason practice, said Romeus tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee earlier this week.
The injury is only the latest of several setbacks that have caused Romeus to miss most of his senior season at Pittsburgh and his rookie season with New Orleans after the Saints took a chance on him in the seventh round of the 2011 draft. Romeus spent last season rehabilitating his right knee, which he injured late in his senior season with Pitt in what was then his first game back from back surgery early in the 2010 season.
"He was just running down the field and his non-surgical knee gave on him," Vitt said, referring to Romeus' previously healthy knee. "This kid's really worked hard. The whole team feels bad for him. The coaching staff feels bad for him. ... This kid has put in the time. He's put in the effort, and he's got to go through the whole process again, so we're going to be there for him, and we're going to support him."
Romeus was one of numerous players to sit out what was the final practice until the first day of training camp on July 27.
Chase Daniel, who had been working with the first team during Drew Brees' contract holdout, also has sat out some of this week's work after spraining his right thumb when it hit a helmet on a throw.
Daniel has a hairline fracture that will prevent him from throwing for nearly three weeks, Vitt said, but stressed it won't require surgery, and Daniel is expected to be ready for training camp.
Daniel declined to say whose helmet his hand hit but did not complain about pass rushers getting too close to him in a non-contact practice, as he did a week earlier and he spiked the ball at linebacker Curtis Lofton's feet and a brief scuffle occurred.
"This stuff happens," Daniel said, explaining that it occurred during a 2-minute drill at the end of a practice. "It was just a freak accident. We got pretty lucky with this. It could have been a lot worse, but ... I'm going to probably be throwing in about two-and-a-half, three weeks."
Meanwhile, rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, the Saints' top overall pick in this year's draft, was out with a broken right hand. Hicks said he first broke his hand during rookie camp and broke it again in minicamp. He said he expects the injury to be fully healed by training camp.
"I came back a little too soon and broke it again," Hicks said. "I didn't feel it when it happened and then we went to check on it and we did some X-rays, and it was broken again. So I just had to take care of that one more time. It's all wrapped up now, and I'll get it healed and get ready for the season."
Pierre Thomas was the only regular running back practicing because Chris Ivory remained out with a hamstring injury from last week's minicamp, Mark Ingram has not practiced throughout the offseason because of minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and Darren Sproles was excused for an annual football camp he hosts in Kansas City.
The Saints did have an offensive starter return to practice in right tackle Zach Strief, who missed most of last week's minicamp after turning his right ankle.
Recently acquired veteran free agent Luke McCown and third-string quarterback Sean Canfield took all of the snaps at Wednesday's practice. The team has one more scheduled day of its offseason program left, but Vitt said coaches and players will instead have a golf scramble, which the coach described as a team-building event.