Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins is getting closer to returning from injury to play for the New Orleans Saints.

A 2016 first-round draft selection by New Orleans out of Louisville, Rankins tore an Achilles tendon in a Divisional Round playoff game against the Eagles last January.

The Athletic's Nick Underhill says Rankins could possibly return as early as Sunday night when the Saints play host to the Dallas Cowboys, but that a first appearance this season in Week 5 or Week 6 is more likely.

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Rankins started all 16 games for the Saints last season, recording 40 tackles, including 8 sacks, which ranked second on the squad, behind only Cameron Jordan.

On April 24, 2019, the Saints picked up the fifth-year option on Rankins' contract.

In part of three NFL seasons, the 25-year old Rankins has appeared in 86 games, including 57 as a starter, compiling 86 tackles, including 14 sacks.