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Lions safety Delmas preparing for playoff opener

(Reuters) - The Detroit Lions, whose secondary was shredded by Green Bay's back-up quarterback in Sunday's regular season finale, might be fortified by the return of safety Louis Delmas for Saturday's playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.

Delmas, whose sprained right knee has kept him off the field since late November, was practicing with the first-team defense on Tuesday as the Lions prepared for the high-powered Saints and record-setting quarterback Drew Brees.

"Obviously he's a leader of our secondary, very productive player in our secondary, a guy who plays with a lot of speed and a lot of emotion," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said about Delmas.

"He's one of the cornerstones of what we want to do defensively ... one of the guys we wanted to build around and we've obviously missed him and want to get him back on the field."

The Lions were without Delmas, starting corner Chris Houston (knee) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (suspension) when they lost to the Saints, 31-17, a month ago.

Detroit had its full compliment of defensive players at practice Tuesday, including defensive tackle Corey Williams, who missed the Packers game with a hip injury.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)