I'm back after a day spent mostly in bed. I've been swilling Nyquil like it was grandpa's corn whiskey. It sure helps take the edge off of a cold virus when you can sleep through most of it. Many thanks to Hans for filling in yesterday and to all of those who wished me a speedy recovery.
Enough about me, though. There's an uberimportant divisional game against the hated Dirty Birds coming up this Sunday. The loss of Reggie Bush for approximately the next six weeks is still a concern, but there is some good news today. It's looking highly likely that rookie standout Chris Ivory may be able to help fill the void starting this week. He was a full participant in practice today. He's a much different runner than Reggie and may not be as talented, but it'll be interesting to see how Payton incorporates him into the offense. There's also word that they're looking to get rookie Jimmy Graham more involved too.
How well do you expect Ivory to do while Reggie recovers from his fibula fracture? Answer in the poll and discuss after checking out the plethora of tweets, links, transcripts, and video I have for you after the jump.
jgoody76 Off to meetings
Official_Saints The Saints are tied for 2nd in the NFL in turnover differential at +5 (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles recoveries)
reggie_bush What's up peeps. I'm in the training room getting healthy. No time to sleep gotta get back on the field. What are you guys up to?
jeffduncantp Payton said Gay has still not been cleared to play. Doctors will continue to monitor him throughout the week.
jeffduncantp Payton said Matt Ryan is someone that doesn't take a lot of hits. The ball comes out fast. He's someone that becomes difficult to get to.
jeffduncantp Payton said preseason media picks of the Falcons to win the division mean nothing to him or the team. He won't use as motivation.
Official_Saints "I don't know who has picked who to win the division. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. What matters is what happens (on the field)"- Payton
Official_Saints Falcons have returned some of their visiting team allotment tickets for Sunday's game & they are now available to fans through Ticketmaster!
HOW WILL SAINTS FILL THE VOID DURING BUSH'S ABSENCE?:
New Orleans Saints RB Chris Ivory looms as possibility Sunday with Reggie Bush out | NOLA.com
After practice Ivory said he is trying to prepare himself mentally, and make sure he has his assignments down pat. But he has not been given any indication as to his status for Sunday's game, he said.
Two new running backs may debut for New Orleans Saints on Sunday
The next handoff from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to running backs Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory will be the first official handoff between those teammates in the NFL. That could happen as early as Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at the Superdome.
New Orleans Saints will shuffle their lineup in these days A.B. (After Bush) | NOLA.com
Game 1 of the New Orleans Saints' 2010 season A.B. -- After Bush -- is only three days away, but you couldn't sense any remorse or panic on Airline Drive.
New Orleans Saints have alternatives without Reggie Bush | NOLA.com
New Orleans Coach Sean Payton hinted the team will also rely on free-agent rookie Chris Ivory, who has been out with a medial collateral ligament knee injury suffered in the third preseason game at Tennessee. Ivory, who has at times had a brace and at times a wrap on his leg, was limited at practice at Wednesday, Payton said.
Saints know they have to rely on others without Bush | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
Two days after fracturing his right fibula in the Saints’ 25-22 win over San Francisco, Reggie Bush wasn’t physically in the locker room.
Numbers say Saints can win without Bush - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Over the three previous seasons, the Saints have played 12 games without Bush. In those games, they went 8-4 and have averaged 33.4 points a game. Last season, they played two games without Bush. They won them both and averaged 38 points a game.
Bush injury creates surprising new roles | shreveporttimes.com | Shreveport Times
METAIRIE — Reggie Bush's versatility gives the New Orleans Saints' offense an element of surprise, even when he is injured, apparently.
New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas has great chance to show worth
Now that Reggie Bush is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks recovering from a fractured right fibula, those 10 to 12 touches a game that usually go to him will have to go to someone else.
DIRTY BIRDS ARE COMING TO TOWN:
New Orleans Saints injury report: Randall Gay, Anthony Waters, Reggie Bush don't practice | NOLA.com
Tailback Chris Ivory (knee) and offensive tackle Zach Strief (knee) were both upgraded to full participants, making it likely that both will be eligible to play Sunday.
Saints Injury Report: Ivory, Strief return to practice - wwltv.com
Running back Chris Ivory and offensive tackle Zach Strief were both full go in practice Thursday, the first time either has practiced in more than three weeks.
Forecast: More fun to hate the Falcons when they're good | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
From our buddy Ralph Marlbrough: Atlanta is going to be really good for the next few years and I couldn’t be more excited. Why? It’s because the Atlanta Falcons will be much more fun to hate if their games against the Saints actually matter.
In the Numbers: Saints look to improve on recent 7-1 record against Falcons | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
For the second season in a row, the Saints have gotten to 2-0. And yeah, that’s a franchise first. Never before has New Orleans reached 2-0 in back-to-back seasons.
Fantasy Source - Pro Football - Sporting News
Drew Brees. Michael Turner. Marques Colston. Roddy White. Any of these stars has the talent to explode in any given week; that's why they're must-start fantasy studs. But there are a few rising stars who could also shine in this NFC South matchup, including New Orleans' Pierre Thomas and Atlanta's Matt Ryan. Read on to find out who else could steal some of the spotlight this weekend.
Atlanta Falcons tailback Michael Turner fully participates in Thursday's practice | NOLA.com
He's not expected to be hampered by groin injury
VIEW FROM THE FALCON'S PERCH:
Do the Falcons really catch a break with Bush out? | Atlanta Falcons
He really hasn’t done much against the Falcons since he’s been in the league. All his broken leg really means is that the Falcons will get to see more of the hard-charging Pierre Thomas.
WR Michael Jenkins returns to practice | Atlanta Falcons
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who missed the first two games with a shoulder injury, returned to practice on Wednesday.
Falcons look to limit Saints' big-play offense | ajc.com
Subtract two plays, and the Falcons' defense has held its first two opponents to a total of nine points.
New Orleans Saints are winning with a patient offense | NOLA.com
Drew Brees on 49ers game- "The game turned out exactly like we thought it would, although when we sit there and look at the film, we saw where we had some opportunities that we probably could have scored some more points."
New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl win -- and The Times-Picayune headline the next day -- end up in 'Final Jeopardy' | NOLA.com
Jelisa Castrodale's job as a sportswriter in Winston-Salem, N.C., no doubt came in handy on an episode of the TV game show "Jeopardy" that aired Tuesday. During the "Final Jeopardy" segment, the category was "Sports and the Media" and the clue was: "On Feb. 8, 2010, the headline in a major newspaper in this city read, 'Amen! After 43 years our prayers are answered.'"
Where the Saints rank in the NFL - Week 2: Offense, Defense lagging | wwltv.com | Eye on the Saints
Total offense (297.5yards) – 21st Rush offense (64.5 yards) – 31st Pass offense (233 yards) – 12th Total defense (335 yards) – 23rd Rush defense (116.5 yards) – 19th Pass defense (218.5 yards) – 20th
New Orleans Saints mailbag - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Pat Yasinskas: Although the Saints haven’t done much down the field in the first two games, I think it’s premature to say defenses have figured out how to stop their deep game. First off, they played two very good defenses, San Francisco and Minnesota. They also had to deal with a very strong wind in San Francisco and that definitely had an impact on the deep passing game. I recall a deep pass where Meachem was wide open. Drew Brees missed him badly. It’s rare for Brees to have a throw that’s not even close to the receiver and I attribute that one to the wind. Let’s give the Saints a few more weeks and Payton a little time to make some adjustments before we go writing off their deep passing game. Satch nods in agreement.
Peter King's NFL Week 3 game-by-game predictions - Peter King - SI.com
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0) Tempted to pick the Falcons after New Orleans' short week following an unimpressive performance on Monday night and the loss of Reggie Bush. In the last four meetings between the teams, the score is Saints 110, Falcons 109. But I've picked against the Saints too much already this year. They're pretty good. Saints 30, Falcons 24
Texans, Steelers make move in Week 3 NFL Power Rankings - Don Banks - SI.com
1. New Orleans Saints (2-0) The Saints have displayed that resilient, whatever-it-takes-to-win mentality in narrow wins over the Vikings and 49ers, and that's a necessity when defending a Super Bowl title. Losing Reggie Bush with a fractured fibula is a blow to the versatility of the offense, but there are weapons in reserve and I expect Sean Payton and Drew Brees will creatively adapt. We're about to find out how the NFC South stacks up against New Orleans, because the Saints get the Falcons, Panthers and Bucs over the next four games.
NFL.com Photos - 2010 NFL Cheerleaders: Week 2
Saintsations Help Open NFL Women's Shop
Alas, no pictures.
Derland Moore To Appear At Hall Of Fame
Former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Derland Moore will appear at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum, located at Gate B on the Plaza Level of the Louisiana Superdome, from 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m. on Sunday, September 26 prior to the New Orleans Saints home game with the Atlanta Falcons.
Saints Owner Tom Benson Gifts $8 Million To Loyola
Through the Gayle & Tom Benson Charitable Foundation, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has generously pledged $8 million to Loyola University New Orleans to create a new home for the university’s Jesuit Center.
Former 49er Ronnie Lott explains speech to New Orleans Saints - San Jose Mercury News
I guess in my heart, (I had) the responsibility of saying, 'Hey, guys, be careful. ... Don't put yourself in the position where you ruined what you guys have earned," Lott said. "That's really the message.
Studs and duds: Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne should light it up - Fantasy Joe: Fantasy Football News, Draft Information, and Player Rankings - USATODAY.com
Duds: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. Realistically, you'll automatically start Brees. But bear in mind that the Atlanta Falcons have yet to allow a TD pass, and New Orleans is coming off a short week.
NFL Head Coaches Ratings Week 3 - National Football League - ESPN
Guess which coach sits at the top.
Clausen starting QB with limited WR options
The Panthers' woes continue.
New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson among Forbes' 400 'Richest People in America' | NOLA.com
Benson ranks 382nd on list with net worth of $1.05 billion
Garrett Hartley makes good on the New Orleans Saints' faith in him | NOLA.com
"Just from watching him practice and the way he kicked for us last year, I thought the reaction (after the season opener) was probably a little bit of an overreaction", Payton said.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Thursday, September 23, 2010
"Zach Strief, knee was full today. Chris Ivory, knee was full. Usama Young with his quad was limited and the following three players did not practice: Anthony Waters, Reggie Bush and cornerback, Randall Gay."
What happened with Gay’s independent exam due to the concussion?
"That test was done this morning. He’s still not cleared. We’ll go at it again and see where he’s at tomorrow and just keep monitoring his progress and make sure that he’s full speed and ready to go if we put him on the field."
What do you have a feel for about the Falcons?
"A couple things. I think Mike (Smith) and his staff has done a great job. They’ve put a team together that’s built with speed. I think they’re a team offensively that certainly has big play ability. The quarterback has done a real good job. Defensively, they run to the ball very well. They cause a lot of problems, because they’re multiple in the looks they give you. They pressure you. They’re very well-coached."
Is there anything you remember about your last meeting with them?
"Nothing specific. Just that it’s a hard-fought game. The one we played here went back and forth, certainly with the momentum swings. It ended up being as I remember real close and one where the momentum shifted back and forth and we were able to make enough plays in the end."
Patrick Robinson was inactive last week and now with Randall Gay’s injury could be thrust back into a role potentially. Do you think he’s ready?
"If Randall can’t go he’ll have to be ready to go."
Can you talk about the progress you see from him?
"He’s doing well. I think certainly he understands what we’re doing. He’s had a couple good practices. Just from the snaps we’ve given him yesterday and today, he’s done a good job. He and Leigh (Torrence) are both getting a lot of work."
Matt Ryan seems to be a guy with a quicker release than your first two quarterbacks you faced. How do you face the different dynamic?
"He’s a hard sack. They’re different and I agree. He’s someone that doesn’t take a lot of hits. He’s very decisive. He knows their system very well and is comfortable in it, so when you watch him play, the ball doesn’t come out fast. He operates very efficiently with his play action under center, certainly his throws under center and then under the gun, in a lot of the games we’ve played, it becomes very difficult to get after him with pressure because he gets rid of it so quickly. But, he has great arm strength. Certainly he has a lot of confidence in his targets and where he’s going with the football. They give you a lot of looks."
As a rookie who has not practiced fully in a regular season practice until today, what kinds of issues could Chris Ivory potentially face?
"I think more than anything you want to make sure you have a role for him, if in fact he’s going to be one of the guys you get in the mix. There are certain things he does well. There are certain things you continue to work on and the key is identifying what the player’s role is if you take a guy like (Chris) Ivory or Jimmy Graham, one these young players. You want to be able to before the game say this is what we want and this is what we need. That would be no different for him."
Can you talk about the special teams unit’s ability to recover a turnover like in the other night?
"I think the turnover that night was significant. We felt in that game that the kicking game was going to be important and we ended up with a number of big plays in the kicking game, the punt return by (Reggie) Bush, the big turnover. That was a big part of the win. Our coverage units have done a good job. I think it’s going to be important in this game as well."
Chris Ivory ran hard in the preseason. Are you curious to see if that can carry over to the regular season?
"With any young player whether it’s Chris or these other guys we’re talking about, you’re anxious to see how it transitions to a regular season game against a lot of starters. In his case, or no different with some of these other guys, you’re anxious to see him play. Today was clean with him. Today we got into some nickel looks, some of those looks he would or would not be involved with, but I think we all are."
As a young player, is pass protection a big deal for Ivory or do you talk to him about ball security? What are the things that you need to remind him about?
"I think you hit on all of those things. If you ask what the transition is for a running back from college to the NFL, it would start with protection – the multiple looks that defenses give you, not only in base but in nickel. That’s a big learning curve; there’s a lot there and certainly you stress upon ball security and all the little things that go into playing that position at a high level."
How big of a challenge is it to come off of a road game on Monday night, especially on the West Coast?
"I think you have to look closely at your schedule itself and understand that you’re coming off of a hard-fought win and then losing time coming back. You have plenty of time for that Monday night game and now it’s flipped around where we’ve tried to back off some of the snaps. We’ve put together the schedule to where they were going to be in later yesterday. I think you do have to be mindful of that and certainly that is a challenge. You want to make sure that mentally you’re getting through the reps and you want make sure that if anything, the plan is reduced because of the short week and then put that together and implement it."
Since you had 11 days in between the previous two games, were you doing some advance gameplanning on Atlanta?
"No, usually when you play a Monday night game you have time on Monday to get a lot of the scouting report stuff done and some of the film study done, which we did while we were in San Francisco, which I think is pretty common."
So you want to reduce the gameplan and not have too much in it with the shorter prep time?
"You want to be careful and not have too much in your plan, as far as scheme, plays, defensive calls, special teams. I think you want to make sure that the plan is such that it reflects the amount of time that you’re practicing. If you’re going to reduce practice and reduce snaps, then you have to be able to reduce the plan to some degree."
Facing that kind of challenge on top of Reggie Bush being out, does that make it doubly reduced?
"No, I don’t think so. It’s just overall plays that you look at, run and pass, just making sure that there’s not too much where you’re not getting to practice it all. But I think with his injury, there are certain things that immediately you move on from and there are other things that you look to."
The Falcons have been picked by some to win the division. Do you care about that?
"What do you think?"
I think you do. Will you use that as a motivational tactic?
"Honestly, I think that all of that is unimportant to all of us, myself included. I really wouldn’t know how many people have picked them to win or us to win; it’s really unimportant. What’s important is what happens. To be honest with you, it’s not something that we’ve looked at and pointed at. Certainly we believe that this is a team that we have a lot of respect for and this is a team that has gotten better each year. I think they’re well-coached. Our players see that and we have seen the additions that they’ve made in each offseason but I don’t think that after having had success you pay as much attention to who’s picked to do what because ultimately it doesn’t matter."
But playing a team that is a very good team in your division, do you look at this as measuring stick game where you can find out where you are as a football team?
"Where we’re at is we’re 2-0 and it’s a division game. You can point to it and say that it’s our first opportunity within the division and it’s certainly and NFC game because of that and this is the only game we can play. Outside of that, that’s what it is. It’s a real good team. That’s how we handle it, just in regards to the preparation and the meetings. We’ll study closely what they do well, what their strengths are, and knowing that it’s a team we’re familiar with just as they are with us. The programs have been together now and have been established. I think that’s the most important thing."
So you won’t handle them any differently than when you did when you played them when you were 12-0 last year?
"No. Again, at that point we were playing a division game and that was the game you played. That’s the way we approach it."
If you’re in Atlanta’s shoes, could this be a game where you’re putting a lot of stock into it?
"Certainly they played well last week and I’m sure they’re looking at it much the same way that we do. Anytime you play in the division, and for them they’re playing the team that won the division a year ago – we’ve been in that position ourselves. But really this is Week 3 and this is the third game of the season and this is the only game you can win this weekend. So it’s the most important game and it’s the one you play."
|Black and Gold Report: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons|
|Video: Can New Orleans Saints revive the run game?|