NEW ORLEANS – All-Pro safety Darren Sharper's goal of helping the Saints compete for a second consecutive championship remains intact, even if it isn't working out quite as he'd planned.
Projected starting linebacker Jonathan Casillas wasn't as fortunate.
Sharper must sit out the first six games of the season, while Casillas won't come back at all after injuring his foot in the Saints' final game of the preseason at Tennessee on Thursday night.
The Saints on Saturday announced several moves as they trimmed their active roster to the regular season maximum of 53 players.
New Orleans decided to keep both Sharper and linebacker Clint Ingram on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which bars them from joining the active roster before Week 7 of the season. Both are recovering from microfracture surgeries on their left knees during the offseason and opened training camp on the PUP list, meaning they haven't been allowed to practice in weeks.
The decision means Sharper won't be able to suit up against his old friend, Brett Favre, and his previous team, the Minnesota Vikings, who visit the Louisiana Superdome for the NFL season opener on Thursday night.
Sharper said his conditioning work has been going well and that he wanted to play against Minnesota, but that he also understood how starting the season on the PUP list could potentially help him in the long run.
"He was saying, 'At this point, you think about playing for championships.' And that's the reason I came back," Sharper said. "A lot of times those championships, or setting yourself up for those championships, is done in November and December. So if you come back and your strong for that time ... I think more people will remember that. I think that the team will remember that and that will be a better scenario."
Casillas, a second-year pro out of Wisconsin who joined that Saints last year as an undrafted free agent, appeared to have earned a starting spot that opened up when linebacker Scott Fujita left in free agency. The Saints had been starting Casillas at weakside linebacker after moving Scott Shanle, who started at that spot last year, over to the strong side.
Now the Saints will have to figure out how to move on without Casillas, which could involve moving Shanle back to the weak side.
Saints also formally announced the release of 19 players, including veterans such as defensive end Bobby McCray, quarterback Patrick Ramsey, defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, center Nick Leckey and running back Ladell Betts.
The final cuts also included: offensive linemen Terrence Metcalf, Brandon Carter, Na'Shan Goddard and Jermey Parnell; fullbacks Jason McKie and Zak Keasey; receiver Montez Billings; linebacker Harry Coleman; cornerback Reggie Jones; tight end Tyler Lorenzen; defensive linemen DeMario Pressley, Jay Ross and Al Woods; and safety Chip Vaughn.
Woods was taken by the Saints in the fourth round of last spring's NFL draft, while Vaughn was selected in the fourth round in 2009. Both would be eligible for the Saints' eight-player practice squad if they've cleared waivers by Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the moves announced by the club on Saturday also mean that two undrafted rookies out of Division II programs — defensive end Junior Galette from Stillman and Chris Ivory from Tiffin — both made the team. It also means the Saints are carrying only two quarterbacks on the active roster, Drew Brees and second-year pro Chase Daniel.
The Saints were off on Saturday and return on Sunday afternoon to practice and to begin work on the game plan for Minnesota.