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Fleur-de-Links - Sept. 30th: Pierre Thomas is a Game-Day Decision, John Carney to Start This Sunday?

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Not much new to report today. Pierre Thomas was held out again, but that shouldn't be surprising. He doesn't need much practice during the week to be effective in Payton's offense, so he's being given as much time as possible to heal that gimpy ankle. Even though Coach described him as a game-day decision, I'd be surprised if he doesn't play this Sunday.

ESPN is reporting that John Carney will get the start over Garrett Hartley this week. Not sure I believe this just yet. I still think Hartley will get the nod, unless he's been struggling in practice. Payton did say yesterday that Carney nailed all of his kicks at the Tuesday tryout. Maybe the old man will indeed get to add to his 3rd place all-time points scored total.

Beware James Varney's shirt in the last video!


j_bushrod7475 "@jessmendez_: Can't wait to be in NYC for my birthday! I wish @j_bushrod7475 could come with me though:("... Mmhmm, you leavin me :-(

HeathEvans Long day folks & another long one tomorrow! Maybe tomorrow I will have time to play w/ my new Iphone..doubt it!! #fb

thomasmorstead For all those asking, John carney being back is a good thing. He is a great mentor and even better friend.

LanceMoore16 Everybody have a blessed day today. Smile when you might not feel like smiling. It could help brighten someone's day.

reggie_bush One of my teammates just showed me this YouTube of this break dancer

Official_Saints Attention Saints season ticket holders: we currently have limited season parking available in the Dome! For more info call (504) 731-1700

Official_Saints Congrats to @robyslyfe for being named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month!

Official_Saints In September, Roby averaged 25.8 yds per kickoff return, led the Saints with 5 special teams tackles & recovered a fumble vs. 49ers!

dmcallister26 Abt to be on mid day miss talking about the Big Cat Classic on oct 16. Jsu/Su

jeffduncantp No change to the #Saints injury report: P.Thomas (ankle) & R.Harper (ham), did not practice.

jeffduncantp Other #Saints injured players: U.Young (quad), limited; A.Waters (ham), R.Bush (fibula), did not practice.

Official_Saints Coach Payton meets the media

Official_Saints Payton on Sharper & Ingram "They are doing well & on schedule. We are hopeful but there is no guarantee (on when they return)."

jeffduncantp Payton said the decision on who will kick between Carney & Hartley will be made on Sunday.

jeffduncantp Pierre Thomas will also be a game-day decision. Payton said he's a rare player that can miss practice & still play b/c of his intelligence.

ChaseDaniel I'll be wearing these come Sunday! It's Breast Cancer Awareness month in the NFL.



Saints Practice Report: Thomas sits out again | | Eye on Black and Gold
In addition to Thomas, linebacker Anthony Waters (hamstring), running back Reggie Bush (right fibula) and safety Roman Harper (right hamstring) were listed as did not practice. Safety Usama Young (quad) was limited. | Sports | Saints RB Thomas sits out practice — Baton Rouge, LA
While everyone has been concerned with the struggles of kicker Garrett Hartley in the aftermath of Sunday’s 27-24 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints may have more pressing concerns.

In the Numbers: Saints look to get on track against Panthers | | Eye on Black and Gold
The Saints didn’t feel a loss until December during the 2009 season. Well, they can’t say that this season and New Orleans will head into Sunday’s NFC South showdown in a sort of a must-win situation against the Panthers.

Weekly NFL picks from USA TODAY's analysts -
Saints are the lock of the week.

NFL Picks, Grades - Football
The Saints have some flaws on defense that have showed up the past two weeks. But the best thing for that is bad offense. That's what they face here in Carolina. Jimmy Clausen makes his first road start. That's tough to do in New Orleans. But you can run on the Saints. I see Carolina keeping it closer than expected. SAINTS 35, PANTHERS 22

Week 4 matchup: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints - NFL - Sporting News
Bouncing back. The Saints suffered their first loss in nine months Sunday, and it was a painful one — a 27-24 overtime defeat at home against division rival Atlanta after kicker Garrett Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal. The Saints should be plenty motivated to get back on track against another division rival, the struggling Panthers.

Panthers-Saints Preview - Sep. 29, 2010 - NFL - Game Preview
Garrett Hartley's missed field goal in overtime last week kept the New Orleans Saints from starting 3-0 for the second consecutive season. That prompted them to add some familiar insurance as they look to avoid similar fates in the future.



Source: John Carney to kick for New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers - ESPN
The New Orleans Saints are planning for newly signed John Carney to serve as the team's kicker Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Carney Ready to Help Hartley
That could happen and I've trained all offseason to play," Carney said. "So I'm just happy to have an opportunity. | Sports | Saints wait to name kicker — Baton Rouge, LA is the authority on current news and information on Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Produced by The Advocate and WBRZ News 2.

Brees gives Hartley some advice - NFC South Blog - ESPN
"I told him I’ve been benched three times,’’ Brees said. "I said, it’s all part of the process. Every young player has to learn it. There’s no shortcut to it. There’s no easy way to it. You just have to learn it the hard way. You’re learning it the hard way. Make the most of it. Absorb everything you can from John Carney. John Carney’s a Hall of Fame kicker. I’ve lost track of how many years he’s played. He’s played more years than Hartley’s been alive probably. Really, we should look that up. Is that true?’’

NFL Two-a-Days: Kicking Off on Costly Kicker Blunders -- NFL FanHouse
New Orleans' Garrett Hartley and Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski cost their teams a win last weekend. Or did they? LeCharles Bentley talks kickers in this edition of NFL Two-A-Days.

Saints hope Carney can be 'kick whisperer' for Hartley again
On the surface, it appears New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton merely is bringing in veteran kicker John Carney to straighten out "Captain Hook.’’ And that is partly correct, but "The Hartley Project'' being commissioned by Saints officials goes much deeper than that.

Carney with Saints to compete, help Hartley | New Orleans News, Local News, Breaking News, Weather | | Eye on Black and Gold
John Carney stood in familiar environs Wednesday surrounded by more than a dozen reporters and cameramen. And then he likened himself to a caddy, not the golfer.

New Orleans Saints kicker John Carney says he's here to help the Saints and Garrett Hartley |
"Well, you know, every good golfer needs a good caddie," said Carney, 46, who re-signed with the Saints on Tuesday to serve as both a temporary replacement and a mentor while Hartley, 24, works through his early season funk.



The Charlotte Post - Bad News Cats

All-Pro Smith downplays talk of feud with Clausen | feud, smith, talk - Sports - Gaston Gazette
Sports: All-Pro Smith downplays talk of feud with Clausen | feud, smith, talk, charlotte, clausen, downplays

Offensive line isn't providing Panthers room -
Analysis: In the past, the Carolina Panthers' five offensive linemen have been enough to sustain an offense.

Constant changes not slowing defensive line -
The Carolina Panthers made another move Tuesday at defensive tackle, and at this point, the movement is the only thing constant about the group.

Clausen has a chance to be Panthers' elite quarterback -
Clausen has offered only glimpses of his potential. But I'm certain he'll be the best passer the Panthers have ever had, and I think he'll be the best quarterback.



Pat Y and ESPN to investigate the curse of the BLACK PANTS! - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Gabrielle in New Orleans writes: I know that you are going to think I'm ridiculously superstitious but I knew the Saints were in trouble on Sunday as soon as they walked on the field ... they were wearing white jerseys with black pants. We never ever seem to win with that combo. Do you have access to the winning percentages based on game day attire in the Sean Payton era? I'd be interested to know if the equipment manager is really to blame for the loss to the Falcons (since we have to blame someone!).

Pat Yasinskas: Amazingly, you’re not the first to bring this up to me. Within moments after the game, I had a text from a friend who should know better than to text me after the game when I’m trying to do interviews, and she’s a Saints fan and had the exact same observation about the uniforms. I hadn’t really given it much thought, and those who know me will verify that I’m not the most fashion conscious guy. But maybe you’re on to something. We’ve got a tremendous crew at ESPN Stats & Information and they can dig up some amazing stats. This one might be beyond them, but I’ll run it by them and see if we can see if there’s a fashion trend.



Steelers claim No. 1 spot in Week 4 NFL Power Rankings - Don Banks -
4. New Orleans Saints (2-1) Every game has been an exhausting battle so far for the Saints, and that's usually the way it goes the year after the big confetti shower. Every team hits you with its best shot, and even when you win, it takes a chunk out of you. New Orleans should get a bit of a breather this week, with struggling Carolina in town. The Saints have more to worry about than just the Garrett Hartley field goal drama. New Orleans is last in rushing (57.3 yards), third-to-last in rushing defense (145 yards allowed), and opponents are converting almost half of their third downs (47.5 percent).

Hakim Drops the Ball!: NFL Power Rankings (Week 3 - 2010)
9. New Orleans Saints (2-1)

Big Chief's NFL Top 10 - Week #4 - WWL - AM870 | FM105.3 | News | Talk | Sports
4. New Orleans 2-1 (last week #1) - New Orleans had a chance to win a game that didn't get their best football, but got kicked by the Falcons in overtime. The Saints were in my Top 10 every week last season, but a loss to the winless Panthers will drop them out of the Top 10! The Saints are just a heartbeat...I mean a Hartley...away from being perfect! Last week New Orleans lost to Atlanta 27-24 in overtime / this week vs Carolina.



New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush again predicts an earlier return than expected |
Nah, no cast, no wrap," Bush said outside his locker. "It wasn't as serious as I think probably everybody thought. I was on crutches for maybe three days just to keep the pressure off of it. Went to one crutch for a day, and then I was completely off crutches."

Forecast: NFC's awful play is good news for Saints | | WWL Sports
While the Saints certainly have their problems (more on that below), being in a tough conference doesn’t appear to be one of them.

Courtney Roby is Player of the Month - NFC South Blog - ESPN
First posted by Grumps.

Willl Smith's Facebook Interview
Defensive Captain talks run defense, trash talking & that "other" Will Smith

Zach Strief Foundation to Host BIG NIGHT OUT Gala Tonight
Saints Offensive Tackle Announces Fundraiser to Assist Local NOLA Charities; Event Is This Evening!!!

Saints Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The National Football League and NFL Players Association will support October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its largest on-field presence and a national breast cancer screening-reminder and fundraising campaign.

Brees Wife Holds Off On Delivering Baby Until Saints Schedule Favorable | AHN
Brees Wife Holds Off On Delivering Baby Until Saints Schedule Favorable

Sean Payton Overexposing Drew Brees With League-Worst Rushing Attack -- NFL FanHouse
Satch, IMHO - I think these guys are overlooking something important here: all three of our games so far were against teams with very strong run defenses (most days). We should be patient with the run game and overall offense. I think both will improve with each future game.

Dirty Dozen: Best, Worst Head Coaches in NFL Right Now -- NFL FanHouse
Satch, IMHO - What a total crock this is! Payton isn't on here, but they have Wade Phillips at no. 6??!! Is Dave Goldberg on crack?! He must be a big Cowboys fans.

From the locker room: New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Shanle - New Orleans Sports |
Did the defense do a good job of bouncing back from all the third-down conversions Atlanta made?

Shanle: "I’m proud of the way we fought all the way until the end. With that being said, it’s been an issue for three weeks of the season not getting off the field on third downs. If we don’t want to play 12 and 20 play drives, we’ve got to start getting off the field. We can all do better on third down."

Shotgun formation works in NFC South - NFC South Blog - ESPN
A recent survey, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, says that the shotgun formation works for three out of four NFC South teams. BreesLooking

NFL filled by many coaching products with Louisiana backgrounds
It has been well documented all of the local talent participating in the NFL as players that honed their skills on the playgrounds and high schools in New Orleans and around the state. It may surprise you that there are a few coaches in the league that are homegrown as well.

Tyrone Hughes to appear at Saints Hall of Fame Museum
New Orleans native Tyrone Hughes will appear at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum from 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m. this Sunday, October 3 prior to the New Orleans Saints home game with the Carolina Panthers.

Sentencing is delayed in film tax credit fraud involving New Orleans Saints |
Sentencing is being delayed until Jan. 19 for the head of a defunct movie studio who pleaded guilty to selling $1.9 million in nonexistent tax credits to members of the New Orleans Saints. On May 13, Wayne Read pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen funds and wire fraud. He once ran Louisiana Film Studios LLC in suburban New...



New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Post-Practice Press Conference

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opening Statement:

“Today’s injury report: Usama Young with his quad was limited; Anthony Waters (hamstring) did not participate; Reggie Bush (fibula) did not participate; Roman Harper (hamstring) did not practice and Pierre Thomas (ankle) did not practice. Most of this afternoon was the nickel.”

From a defensive perspective, is a 19-play touchdown drive a positive or a negative? Does making a team work that hard for a score provide anything?

“Generally if an offense has the ball for 19 plays, they’ve converted third downs, and although it has taken time, the objective is to not let an offense score. We look at is as a team that if we go 19 plays and score, we would feel pretty good and that we had accomplished a lot of what we were trying to do; number one scoring a touchdown. Now if you’re up 21 points in the fourth quarter and you’re trying to hurry the game up, then you could look at it that way, but other than that I don’t think it’s looked at as a good thing because the other team scored.”

How did the defense play against the run? You didn’t give up any long runs but was it a matter of getting worn down?

“One of the things we just talked about was third down. The key importance of this down – which was today’s emphasis – is that it can really cure a lot of your other issues. If you’re converting offensively at a good percentage, you’re on the field longer, your rushing numbers and your snaps can increase. Defensively, if you’re getting off the field on third down your snap totals decrease and your efficiency increases. I think third down is a pivotal down because when you’re staying on the field, you have what you just talked about in a long drive; you begin to wear a defense down with a series of 19 plays or 16 plays or 12 plays. The emphasis for us and one of the things that we literally just finished talking about was the importance of us winning third down on both sides of the ball and how much that can affect some of the other areas of the game if you’re able to do that. It’s a chance to really give the ball back to your offense or a chance to stay on the field offensively, so that number is going to be important.”

On third down, is it over-eagerness on the part of your defense to get off the field that has been the issue?

“I wouldn’t say that. If you’re talking specifically defensively, you’re looking at coverage, pass rush, all of those things, and it’s a statistic that we have been pretty good at – but not as good these first three game, nor have we been as good offensively. Those numbers are important numbers to all of these other things that can become a cumulative effect. If a quarterback throws a deep interception on 3rd-and-10, it’s a turnover.  If on 3rd-and-10 he throws an incompletion and then we in turn punt, essential there’s a similar result. We didn’t turn the ball over but we turned it over on downs. So I think that down is critical for not just our team, but for team success in our league, and it’s a down that we handled very well a year ago and I think we can handle better this year.”

Last year you had success against some rookie quarterbacks. How do you guard against overconfidence seeing that Jimmy Clausen will be making just his second start this week?

“You have to pay close attention to the weapons. You have to look closely at the two halfbacks, to the experienced offensive line, Steve Smith. I think from a defensive perspective you study closely the scheme and what they do. It varies with who’s behind center but I think most importantly is identifying where the threats are and making sure that you know where those guys are on every play. If Clausen is able to turn and hand the ball off with success, that certainly changes his job description for the game. That’s no different for Drew (Brees). If we’re able to run the ball with some success, then the workload on that quarterback changes. The two greatest allies for a quarterback – any quarterback – would be a good running game and a good defense. So you look closely at the scheme and understand that the person behind center is different and try to pay attention to the things that he’s doing well and what he isn't doing so well and capitalize on those.”

Is it easy to say that Steve Smith has beaten us and use that to motivate your team?

“There clearly is respect in our locker room for the player. When you’re in the division and you see a guy like him – no different than Roddy White a week ago – you begin to understand how dynamic those guys are. They can turn games around. There is certainly that respect level.”

Is there any reason behind all the injuries we’re seeing to running backs? It seems like there aren’t any Jim Brown type of running backs anymore.

“What we are seeing around the league though is teams carrying a number of backs knowing that the toll on those players oftentimes is tough. You really can’t have enough coming into the year and we’ve had an unusual amount of injuries at that position for us. The quicker we can get healthier there, the better certainly.

I don’t know that there is one specific reason though. It may be that it’s the type of running back that’s playing, compared to a guy like Ottis Anderson or Jim Brown. Some of those bigger backs are able to handle that workload a little bit more. I would imagine that would still be the case with teams that are carrying a bigger back. But I think that it is a position that gets stressed during the course of a game and you see so many teams carrying at least three that they feel like can play.”

Has that philosophy changed since you got into the league?

“Probably prior to me getting into the league, but I think that there certainly is more of an emphasis on the passing game, so you look at what that player gives you in the passing game in regards to protection and route-running. I don’t know of anyone that would turn down or not be interested in a guy that could carry the load and have durability. You’re still going to have your nickel backs and backs that play in your sub protections and are a little bit more specialized, but there has been a little bit of a trend toward the spread offenses than the traditional two-back sets.”

The way you use some backs – like Chris Ivory last week – is he getting a handful of snaps because of the physical load that your backs are taking?

“When you go into a game, for instance last week minus Reggie (Bush) where you have Pierre (Thomas), you have Chris and you have Ladell (Betts) and you want to be able to help take some of the workload off of Pierre Thomas. We didn’t have as many snaps last week but I think that’s a cause of concern this week, making sure that we have enough healthy bodies that in the event of an injury or if someone is wearing down that someone else can carry the ball. Chris would be a guy that I think has good durability or appears to have good durability and is built well. He’ll get a chance this week.”

Will the decision on which kicker to use be a game-time decision?

“Probably. Towards the weekend we’ll know. That probably will be the case each week, as it was last year. We’ll see how they work, see how they’re doing and then go from there.”

How are the two guys that are on PUP – Clint Ingram and Darren Sharper – doing?

“They’re doing well. Certainly they have different injuries but they’re currently on schedule. With Darren, he’s keeping his weight down and going through the rehab process well. With Clint, he’s going through it just as thorough as we would expect. We’re optimistic, we’re hopeful, and yet there are no guarantees. Looking back, clearly we made the right decision. I’m not sitting here right now with Darren ready to play but he has to wait two and a half or three more weeks; that’s not the case. Hopefully we can have them back in that six-week timeframe.”

When kicking a field goal on first down, if it gets blocked on your side of the line and you recover it, can you kick again?

“I don’t think that’s the case. I think once you kick it, that’s it. I’ve been places where the school of thought was to kick a field goal on third down in the event of bad snap where we could live with that and kick it again. I’ve always believed, and I still do, that when we choose to kick I don’t want to even plant that seed. Four years ago we played Philadelphia and had a long drive late in the game and got down in there tight and took a knee three times and kicked the game-winner with no time left on the clock. We didn’t leave eight seconds in the event that there was an errant snap. The message was that we were going to kick it right here to win it and that was mainly to keep Philly’s offense from getting back on the field. That same scenario kind of came up this weekend with Chicago and Green Bay. There has been a lot of talk of if Green Bay should have let Chicago score. If Philly had let us score, I didn’t want that to happen because that would have meant that they had a chance then to tie the game so we just took a knee. We were at the 10 or 11-yard line and we felt real comfortable with that down and distance and location on the field, so we just bled the clock and ended up kicking it with no time left. That’s the approach that I would always take.

“When you look at our game a week ago, once we got to that spot where we felt like the percentages were in our favor, that was something that was an easy decision. That wasn’t a difficult decision. There are other parts of the game that were more challenging but that was an easy decision.”

Are you coaching there with percentages in mind?

“The screen to Devery (Henderson) was key. It as 3rd-and-9 and obviously if we don’t convert, we’re kicking – it’s fourth down. The yardage he gained on it brought us to the 11 and at that point the risk-reward – whether it’s sack-fumble, tipped ball, fumble – any of those things – you throw out the window and you say this is where we have to be. I know the numbers are above 90% - in fact closer to 95% - of a kick at that location. So field location does matter. If you’re 1st-and-10 at the 21-yard line, you’re still probably looking for a little bit better position to increase the percentages of the kick.

“I said before in overtime in the postseason that it’s different. If that’s your first drive, you’re thinking touchdown to avoid the follow-up touchdown with the rule change. But that was the second possession of overtime, so it didn’t matter if that would have been in postseason or not, a field goal wins it. That one was a pretty easy decision.”

Does watching the Green Bay-Chicago game plant a seed in your defensive thought process of allowing a team to score?

“In that position, I think you discuss and certainly consider it. Back to the percentages, inside the 10, it’s a 90% winner, so how do you feel about your offense? If you’re having trouble offensively, then maybe you don’t, but if you feel pretty good about your two-minute offense and you have enough time to operate, then I think you can consider it. Flip it around though, and you strongly consider taking a knee so you’re not in that position. You’re at the 90-some percentile already and that’s something that happened to us. That happened in our first Philly game in ’06. That was in regulation, but nonetheless, it was to keep their offense off the field.”

Is there a chance that Pierre Thomas could be a game-time decision?

“He will be.”

How comfortable would you be playing someone who hasn’t practiced all week?

“He’s smart enough. If you asked me what some of his strengths are, he’s extremely intelligent with what we’re doing. Pierre is the type of player that could not practice during the week and play well on game day. I don’t know that that’s always the case. Certainly you’d like to see him get work and we’re hopeful that he’ll get work tomorrow. The swelling is going down and he’s feeling better but you just have to give it time and not hurry it. We’ll look closely at it. Fortunately it wasn’t a severe sprain, but at his position that’s important.”

You said that Ivory looks like he’s durable. What do you look for to make that determination, especially now when it seems like the shelf life for running backs is dwindling?

“He’s put together pretty well. He’s strong. When you look at his weight, he’s above 220. He’s built differently than some of the other running backs that we have. So a lot of it would be size. There are still a lot of unknowns with Chris so it might be a little bit premature, but based on watching him he seems to have durability and he possesses speed and he runs with power. But I think the size of the back can matter.”

If Pierre Thomas can’t go, do you feel more comfortable having a third running back active? Would you bring DeShawn Wynn up from the practice squad?

“Obviously if he can’t go, we would have to look closely at that. The other option is just two backs.”

Would you feel uncomfortable with just two?

“Probably more uncomfortable than comfortable. Heath (Evans) gives flexibility to some degree but we’ll have to see.”



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