The New Orleans Saints concluded their Organized Team Activities on Thursday, unsure what the future holds for defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
Fairley remained absent as he continues to seek medical opinions on a heart ailment that has his career in jeopardy as the team held its 10th OTA.
He has had the condition for years, but a physical last month convinced the Saints' medical staff that Fairley should get multiple opinions from specialists, head coach Sean Payton said.
"The first one was one that advised that he should not play football again," Payton said. "The second opinion was a little different, and he is getting a third opinion or has already gotten a third opinion. We are waiting on that opinion. The things we know are this: it is obviously something significant and serious that we have got to pay attention to, obviously both for Nick and for the club."
Payton said the Saints are "hopeful and yet guarded because of the type of condition that we are talking about."
"That is why he has not been doing anything right now until we get a better feel for where he is at," Payton said.
Fairley is a seven-year pro who was second on the team with 6.5 sacks in his first season in New Orleans last year.
"I want to make sure, if in fact he is playing again, that he is playing with full confidence that he is healthy to play and that nothing severe would come of him playing," Payton said. "We are trying to get as many people to look at this that have experience with it. There obviously is concern, but there is not a final answer. I think clearly in the next couple of weeks, we should have a little bit more finality."
Payton said Fairley's spirits "overall are good."
"We're just looking for him to come back and continue building on what he did for us last year," defensive end Cam Jordan said. "It's letting the younger guys get a couple more reps and that's going to benefit us."
With or without Fairley, New Orleans is counting on two draft picks from 2016 -- Sheldon Rankins (first round) and Daniel Onyemata (fourth round) -- to have bigger roles at defensive tackle this season.
"I've learned a lot from (Fairley)," Onyemata said. "Last year I sat next to him in meetings. Now I have a better feel for everything. When you first get out here you don't know the timing and all that. Your second year you have a better feel for things."
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