MRI confirms Sheldon Rankins has torn Achilles; Andrus Peat played with broken hand

METAIRIE, La. -- An MRI confirmed that New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins suffered a torn Achilles on Sunday, a source told ESPN. The former first-round NFL draft pick is expected to have surgery this week.

Also, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Saints left guard Andrus Peat played Sunday despite suffering a broken hand in Week 17 and having surgery during the bye week. Peat had four penalties (including two holding calls) in the Saints' 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he played every snap in the Saints' divisional-round win, and teammates credited him for his toughness. Peat had suffered a broken fibula in last year's playoffs.

"He's resilient, man. He's a fighter," said Saints left tackle Terron Armstead -- who himself returned Sunday from a torn pectoral. "Andrus has been dealing with a lot. We all have. That's kind of the beauty of our team, that we don't let adversity get to us.

"The way he's been able to fight back and play, he's been great for us."

As for Rankins, his loss is a significant blow to a Saints defense that ranked second in the NFL in run defense this year -- and now has to face the Los Angeles Rams' new dynamic duo of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson in the NFC Championship Game.

Rankins, the 12th pick in the 2016 draft, out of Louisville, had a breakout year in his third season with eight sacks, 15 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He had started 44 straight games, including the playoffs after returning from a broken leg he suffered in his first NFL preseason in 2016.

The Saints have decent depth at defensive tackle, though, with third-year backup David Onyemata and undrafted rookie Taylor Stallworth likely to take on bigger roles now.

"We've been playing pretty decent, we've been playing pretty good the past couple of weeks and all that. So, it's just having the guys step up and be ready to take on a bigger role, you know?" Onyemata told reporters Monday.

Saints defensive end Alex Okafor suffered a torn Achilles of his own last season and has bounced back nicely for the Saints this season.

"When he went down, I saw what he was holding, saw the way his leg was, the way his foot was turned. I had a feeling that was it, but I didn't want to expect the worst," Okafor told reporters of Rankins on Sunday night. "When I came back in here and I heard the news, I was devastated, man. Achilles injuries aren't what they used to be -- they aren't career-enders. They're just a little bump in the road. I know he'll be alright.

"He still has the best ball in front of him just because of the dude he is."

The news of Rankins' torn Achilles tendon was first reported by the New Orleans Advocate.