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What you missed this week with the New Orleans Saints

A look at some of the biggest Saints news and notes from the week of Christmas.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The final week of the NFL’s regular season is here, which stinks for many clubs. Fortunately, the New Orleans Saints aren’t in that number this season, as they’re headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. There’s plenty at stake as we roll into Week 17, as the black and gold seek the NFC South crown. Here’s a look at some things you may or may not have missed with the Saints.

Quick Hits

  • Three Saints were ruled out of action for Sunday, which included Terron Armstead (thigh), Trey Hendrickson (ankle), and Michael Hoomanawanui (concussion). Look for Andrus Peat to play at left tackle, with Senio Kelmete filling in at left guard. Don’t forget the game is a late kickoff. White jerseys and gold pants is the attire, plan accordingly.
  • Desmond Trufant was fined $12,154 for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Michael Thomas. He tried to throw a punch, but like the Falcons last week, failed to connect.
  • Staying on the subject of fines, Alvin Kamara received some Grinch-like news from the NFL, getting tagged with a $6,076 bill for his cleats. He has a GoFundMe set up, but these funds will go in the form of a donation to the Willie Hall playgrounds Recreational Department in New Orleans.
  • There were a good bit of Saints roster moves this week. Additions included Kasim Edebali being claimed off of waivers, bringing back Tony McDaniel, and calling up John Fullington from the practice squad (Mykkele Thompson took his spot). Losses saw John Hughes and Hau’oli Kikaha head to injured reserve, while John Phillips was waived.
  • Speaking of moves, John Kuhn was designated to return from injured reserve.
  • Darryl Tapp is serving as an coaching intern on the staff right now, which is all sorts of interesting.
  • Marshon Lattimore won his fourth Pepsi Rookie of the Week award on Friday, which gave the Saints the award 10 times in 16 weeks. That’s pretty impressive.
  • Sean Payton turned 54 on Friday.
  • While the Saints have a playoff spot locked up, their seeding isn’t decided. There’s a host of scenarios that could see New Orleans be the 3rd, 4th, or 5th seed in the NFC. The bottom line? The Saints win or the Panthers lose, and they take the NFC South. If the Saints win and the Rams lose, New Orleans jumps to 3rd. If the worst-case scenario happens where the Saints lose and Panthers win, they sink to 5th.

Petitioning Roger Goodell: Fire Pete Morelli

On December 24th, Morelli and his crew have yet again taken complete control of a game and made it practically unwatchable. The Atlanta Falcons have had 8 penalties enforced against them that 95 percent of NFL officials would not have called. The Falcons and Saints (both members of the NFC South) are competing for a division title and Morelli has shown his blatant bias in favor of the Saints all game. The Atlanta Falcons (9-6) face playoff elimination in a must win week 17 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. As a Falcons fan, I have watched the NFL wrong our franchise for many years but more importantly as a fan of this league I believe that all of us could benefit from the immediate removal of Morelli and every one of his crew members to send a message to NFL officials that corruption within the officiating group will not be tolerated. Morelli has some sort of favoritism towards certain teams and has a personal vendetta against others. We have to do something about this to protect the game and to ultimately do away with corruption. If you feel compelled to sign this, I encourage you to do so. We must remove Pete Morelli.

Y’all. I can’t even. This is beyond hilarious. Oh, the karma. This petition has been in force for over 5 days, and it had just over 4,000 supporters. That sure sounds like Falcons support to me.

Why Saints have had success locating free agents to plug gaps late this season |
The Saints call their roster of candidates for these jobs their “Tidewater” list. They update it with every transaction made across the league and keep an eye on who can fill specific roles. The process has paid some dividends this season. It already led New Orleans to veteran pass rusher George Johnson, who has 2½ sacks in two games. And it brought the Saints back to defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who returned to New Orleans following an injury to John Hughes this week after failing to find a role within the defense during training camp.

It’s a big nod to Terry Fontenot too, who serves as the team’s Director of Pro Scouting. The behind the scenes work that he and Jeff Irleand has been able to accomplish is a big reason why the Saints have been able to turn the ship around.

Taysom Hill, the receiver? Saints considering creative options in putting backup QB on field |
"Just looking at different situations," Payton said. "We'll continue to do that."

Hill, who has the kind of running ability that could be a weapon as a pass-catcher, offers a wide range of possibilities.

"When you can move a quarterback around, that can become challenging, both defensively and in the kicking game," Payton said.

There’s the crazy gadget play I’m thinking in my head that Payton executes in the playoffs. Here’s to hoping it’s in the NFC Championship and/or Super Bowl. It’s probably way too premature to say Taysom Hill is becoming a modern-day Kordell Stewart.

Drew Brees, Michael Thomas among Saints who can make NFL history | ESPN
Drew Brees is on pace to set the record for single-season completion percentage ... for the third time in his career.

Receiver Michael Thomas is on pace to set the record for most catches in the first two seasons of a career.

And rookie running back Alvin Kamara has a chance to accomplish a few things we haven’t seen in the past 50 years.

It’s nice to be able to celebrate these accomplishments more when facing the postseason. Let’s hope the Saints get on the Bucs early to be able to pull out some starters when the second half starts.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans intends to apologize to Marshon Lattimore | ESPN
Evans told ESPN Thursday that it was a "bulls--- move" on his part and that it was done "in the heat of the moment." At that point in the game, the Bucs were down 30-3.

He was very complimentary of the season Lattimore has had; the rookie received a Pro Bowl invite and is now in consideration for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"He's a great player, having a fantastic season. The ball just finds him, a physical corner, a really good player," Evans said. "It's gonna be fun to play him again."

These young Saints players sure do like getting under the skin of the opposition, and I love it. Lattimore, like many of the players, could only see limited action on Sunday. Of course, nothing is decided ahead of time since the Panthers-Falcons play each other. However, don’t be surprised if Payton does some scoreboard watching.