Saints kicker Lutz having surgery for core muscle injury

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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – AUGUST 09: Wil Lutz #3 of the New Orleans Saints during a preseason game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on August 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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METAIRIE, La. (AP)Saints kicker Wil Lutz has scheduled surgery to a repair a core muscle injury and it’s unclear if he’ll return in time for the regular season.

New Orleans signed former Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher to fill in, Maher’s agent, Derrick Fox, told The Associated Press on Monday evening.

Lutz announced his procedure with a post on social media and Saints coach Sean Payton said the team would need a replacement ”at least” for the preseason.

”My training camp will be cut short due to an injury that had progressively worsened,” Lutz wrote. ”We’ve decided it’s in our best interest to get this fixed now in order to miss the least amount of time possible.”

Lutz, who has played in every game for New Orleans since making the team as an undrafted rookie out of Georgia State in 2016, was the only kicker on the roster heading into Monday’s practice.

Lutz began training camp on the club’s non-football injury list before returning to practice last week. He did not appear to struggle initially, routinely converting field goals, but left practice on Saturday.

”He started with a core muscle strain and then last week it progressed some, so rather than wait, we’re going to go ahead and have that done right away,” Payton said. ”I don’t have a time frame.”

Although New Orleans could potentially sign more than one kicker and have them compete during the preseason, Payton said his preference would be to use only one of the club’s preseason roster spots on a kicker.

”I don’t think we’ll use two spots necessarily,” Payton said. ”We’ll have a long-term plan and a short-term plan. And I think relative to Wil’s surgery, I don’t think it’s an extended process based on the history with that type of injury, but each one’s a little different.”

The active roster limit for NFL clubs will be 90 players until Aug. 17, when it lowers to 85. New Orleans opens preseason play on Saturday night at Baltimore.

Lutz has made 77 of 81 career field goals inside 40 yards. He has hit 65 of 83 kicks from beyond that range. His arrival ended an era of instability at the position for the Saints under Payton, who went through 10 different kickers during the 10 seasons before Lutz arrived.

Maher kicked for Dallas in 29 games in 2018 and 2019. He has never missed a kick from inside 30 yards and is 49 of 66 overall on field goals for his career, including 10 of 15 from beyond 50 yards.

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