METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he was “cleared” Tuesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
Payton told WWL radio on Wednesday evening that he has not had a fever for eight or nine days after he first began feeling symptoms March 15 and took his test the next day.
“I’m doing well. I was cleared yesterday,” Payton said. “It’s been quite a process. You spend a lot of time trying to learn as much as you can about it. We’re certainly seeing it on the news 24/7.
“So I’ve been fortunate. You stay inside like everyone’s doing and you find ways to pass the time. We had a competition committee meeting the other day on teleconference. But I’m feeling a lot better. And unfortunately my appetite didn’t dissipate at all during that time. You know, you watch a lot of Netflix, then you go on to Twitter and you see everyone else is watching the same shows.”
Payton, 56, also continued to campaign passionately for other people to learn from his example and heed the advice of health and government officials to practice social and physical distancing so there isn’t a spike in cases that overwhelms the medical field.
“We try asking nicely and we trying saying, ‘Hey, look, this is the deal.’ And then you still see behavior that makes you upset,” Payton said. “Just picture everyone’s got a hand grenade on ’em — how about that? So stay away from everybody.
“We’re not invincible and every one of us certainly can catch this thing. Shoot, we’ve got politicians, athletes, you name it, they’ve caught it. Prince Charles caught it [Wednesday], right? So it doesn’t matter if you live in a castle or you live in an apartment.”
Payton acknowledged that he took some flak from people on social media for appearing in public at the Oaklawn race track in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on March 14, the day before he began feeling symptoms.
“My Twitter blows up. ‘Hey, what is he doing at the races?’ Hey, if I knew I had this, I wouldn’t have been at the racetrack two weeks ago. And the racetrack was closed; I was there in a small ownership group,” Payton said. “And then [people complained], ‘He got a test on Monday without symptoms.’ I had symptoms. I wasn’t gonna use a test if I didn’t have symptoms.”
Payton also spoke about the resilience of Southern Louisiana through some of the country’s most well-known crises over the past two decades, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Katrina.
“We’ve been through so much,” Payton said. “But we don’t just have to be tough, we’ve got to be smart now, too.”
Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson also offered an update on Payton’s condition earlier Wednesday in an interview with the Pelicans’ podcast.
“He’s talking about going to play golf, so he is getting better,” Benson said. “But he’s still quarantined, so he still has to kind of cool it. But he is getting better. I’m glad that he was able to stay home and take care of himself during this time.”
Drew Brees laughs off talk of decline, says out-of-sync Saints ‘not even close’ to full capability
Drew Brees chuckled when asked about the growing narrative that he might be showing signs of decline to start his 20th NFL season.
“Well, my job is to execute the offense. … My job’s not to have the most air yards or throw the ball down the field most or anything like that,” the New Orleans Saints quarterback said after his team flopped in several areas during a 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night.
“I think I’ve always evaluated myself on being a great decision-maker. And so at the end of the day, I’ll throw the ball to the open guy, move the ball down the field, score points, help us win football games. So that’s my job,” Brees said. “My job’s to help us win. My job’s to help put everyone around me in the best position to succeed.”
However, the numbers do show a noteworthy trend. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Brees’ average of 4.82 air yards on his passes this season are the lowest of any quarterback through two games since Brett Favre in 2009.
And as ESPN analysts Louis Riddick and Brian Griese pointed out after Monday’s loss, Brees has looked less comfortable in the pocket and hasn’t been as “surgical” as usual on those short and intermediate throws. Brees, 41, has completed just 44 of 68 passes this season (64.7%) after topping 74% in each of the past two seasons (the two most accurate seasons in NFL history).
He completed 26 of 38 for 312 yards, one touchdown and one interception Monday night. His first interception of the season was a costly one just before halftime — turning a potential scoring drive into a game-tying field goal for the Raiders.
“Are we totally in sync right now? No we’re not. We’re not even close to where we are capable of. Not even close,” said Brees — who was also missing his security blanket in receiver Michael Thomas, who missed his first game in four years because of an ankle injury. “We did some good things — early on — but it just wasn’t enough for the few opportunities that we had.”
The Saints (1-1) will have to try to get back in sync on a short week before hosting the Green Bay Packers (2-0) on Sunday Night Football.
To be fair, the deep ball has not been a big part of Brees’ arsenal in recent years — and he has still managed the two best passer ratings of his career over the past two seasons while the Saints have posted back-to-back 13-3 records.
And there are plenty of reasons why he and the Saints’ offense might be a little off to start this season — including the abbreviated offseason and the ankle injury that Thomas suffered in the final minutes of New Orleans’ Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brees and new Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders have yet to get in sync consistently, with Sanders catching just one pass for 18 yards on three targets Monday.
Brees and coach/play caller Sean Payton both described their performances as “awful” in Week 1 as well, despite the 34-23 victory over Tampa Bay.
“Again, I think we just need to be more efficient,” said Brees, who blamed himself for a bad decision on his interception — pointing out that he should have settled for the check-down on that throw instead of rushing it under pressure.
“We called a shot play or two today — and just got the wrong coverage on both of them. So what could’ve been big-play opportunities, what could’ve been throws down the field, unfortunately had to be checked down,” Brees said. “But I think both of those [resulted in completions for about 10 yards]. At the end of the day, our job is to move the ball and score points, however we have to do that.”
As Brees pointed out, the Saints had the ball for just 23 minutes, 42 seconds on a night when their defense also struggled to stop Raiders tight end Darren Waller. And for the second week in a row, New Orleans led the NFL in penalty yardage with 129 yards on 10 accepted flags.
“We didn’t possess the ball enough offensively, and defensively … we couldn’t get off the field,” Payton said.
“We gotta do a better job coaching. I don’t think it’s gonna be a real pleasant film to watch for some of our star players as well.
“We have to be precise with what we’re doing. The last two weeks, I think it’s been average at best offensively. We’re not functioning well enough.”
Las Vegas Raiders lineman Richie Incognito aggravates Achilles injury, leaves win in first half
Incognito, 37, was listed as limited in practice on Friday and Saturday with the injury. He was replaced by rookie John Simpson in the second quarter. Incognito stood on the sidelines, hands on his hips and a ball cap on his head as he talked with injured and inactive right tackle Trent Brown in the second quarter.
Through just six quarters of the 2020 season, the Raiders had lost Incognito, Brown (calf) and Brown’s replacement, Sam Young (groin), to injury. Denzelle Good, normally a guard, started at right tackle after replacing Young, who had replaced Brown, in Carolina last week.
Short-handed or not, the line has produced. The Raiders amassed 375 total yards in the 34-24 victory over the Saints, and quarterback Derek Carr was not sacked in a performance that included three touchdown passes.
Incognito has been one of general manager Mike Mayock’s best free-agent signings since coming to the Raiders after the 2018 season, a year after Incognito took a one-year retirement.
Incognito, who has had his share of both on- and off-the-field issues, has not been a distraction for the Raiders since signing a “prove-it deal” and then getting a two-year contract extension worth up to $14 million, with more than $6 million guaranteed.
Saints’ Drew Brees acts his age in off-target loss to Raiders – New Orleans Saints Blog
Brees, 41, had his second straight lackluster performance in the Saints’ 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, completing 26 of 38 passes for 312 yards, one touchdown pass and his first interception of the season.
Brees has averaged 4.82 air yards on his passes so far this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That’s his lowest through two games as a member of the Saints, and it’s the lowest by any QB through two games since Brett Favre in 2009.
But he was hardly the only culprit in an ugly loss that put a serious damper on the Saints’ role as a top Super Bowl contender. Their offense couldn’t generate much while star receiver Michael Thomas was sidelined with an ankle injury. Their defense couldn’t stop Raiders tight end Darren Waller (12 receptions, 103 yards) all night. And the team had 10 penalties for 129 yards Monday night, including two costly pass interference penalties and three personal fouls by the defense.
“I don’t think it’s gonna be a real pleasant film to watch — for some of our star players as well,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, who pointed to the struggles from the offense, defense and coaches included.
Now the 1-1 Saints will have to try to get their groove back on a short week before they host the sizzling-hot Green Bay Packers (2-0) on Sunday Night Football next week.
QB breakdown: They were whispers last week, but they turned into shouts on social media under the Monday Night spotlight: Are we seeing the begin of a steep decline in Brees’ 20th NFL season, a la Peyton Manning in his final year with the Denver Broncos?
The jury is still out on that after such a small sample size. Remember, Brees wasn’t throwing the ball downfield much the past two years either, and he still found a way to post the two highest passer ratings of his career and the two highest completion percentages in NFL history.
But Brees is barely taking any shots down the field. And what’s more disturbing is that he is showing uncharacteristic inaccuracy on short and intermediate throws, as well.
Brees looked fine throughout training camp after working with longtime throwing coach Tom House on adding zip to his deep throws this summer. But he’ll be the under the microscope — with defenses shrinking the field on him — until he proves otherwise.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Newly signed Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins looked a step behind for most of Monday night. And while we’re picking on the older players, newly signed Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders hasn’t found his groove yet with his new team, either. He caught just one pass for 18 yards on three targets with a drop and a penalty.
Silver lining: At least Alvin Kamara looked healthy. The Saints’ running back provided the team’s only real spark with 13 runs for 79 yards, nine catches for 95 yards and two TDs. He has already paid big dividends with four TDs in the first two weeks after signing a five-year contract extension the day before the season opener.
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