New Orleans Saints

Saints' Stecker lands on IR

Running back Aaron Stecker became the latest of the unlucky New Orleans Saints on Tuesday as he became the 13th player to land on injured reserve this season.

The Saints signed fullback Darian Barnes to fill Stecker’s roster spot and former Denver Broncos running back Mike Bell should be signed by the time the Saints practice Thursday, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Stecker, 33, re-aggravated a lingering hamstring injury during the first quarter of the win past Kansas City last weekend. Stecker had missed the first four games of the season because of his ailing hamstring.

This may be the end of the line for the nine-year veteran back with the Saints as his contract runs up at the end of the season. He signed a one-year deal with the team during the offseason after his previous four-year deal expired at the end of the 2007 campaign.

Stecker was fourth on the Saints’ running back depth chart as he carried the ball eight times for 43 yards and caught nine passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.

Bell’s signing could mean the Saints are preparing for possible life without Deuce McAllister, who began his appeal hearing with the league on Tuesday along with defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant. If the three Saints players lose the appeal, all three would be suspended for four games.

The Saints anticipate the return of Reggie Bush this week and the team will also rely on Pierre Thomas, who had 146 yards of total offense and a touchdown in the Chiefs win.

Bell (6 feet, 225 pounds) won the No. 1 tailback job with the Broncos in 2006 after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He rushed for 677 yards and eight touchdowns. He couldn’t hold onto the job, though, and has since been released by Denver and Houston.

Barnes (6-2, 240) played in five games with this season with Buffalo and Detroit. Starting fullback Mike Karney may miss a couple more weeks with a strained MCL.

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