Payton: Saints expanding on NFL pandemic protocols

Wed Aug 5 4:48pm ET
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer

In this Thursday, May 26, 2016 file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left, talks with general manager Mickey Loomis during NFL football practice in Metairie, La. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says unusual circumstances surrounding this pandemic-altered NFL season haven't changed high expectations; the Saints seek a fourth-straight playoff appearance. Loomis says it's an advantage that he and coach Sean Payton have worked together since 2006 and that there has been little turnover on the staff or roster recently. Loomis spoke Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)


NEW ORLEANS (AP) Saints coach Sean Payton says the club's decision to occupy four floors of a hotel during training camp is simply an effort to cut down on the sheer number of people going their separate ways each day during a pandemic.

Payton said that along with 80 players on the roster during camp, there are about 90 others -- such as coaches and support personnel - who are involved in daily operations.

''You have 170 stories each day,'' Payton said during a conference call Tuesday. ''And then you take that and times it by seven, and then you take that and times it by four weeks in a month - and then do the season.''

So the Saints sought to create an optional ''bubble'' where players and staff could stay for about a month, during which they'd have minimal contact with family or the public as they try to avoid contracting the corona virus.

''It's really about trying to reduce the possible exposure, not eliminate,'' Payton continued, noting that staying in the hotel is optional and that at some point during camp, those staying there are bound to visit with family. ''You're just trying to reduce those numbers and I think that could just help the team.''

Payton said there is currently no plan to keep the hotel space during the regular season, but he expects similar plans to be adopted by teams that make the playoffs.

''Teams will at some point say, `You know what? This is too important at this time of the year,''' Payton said. ''They'll begin to quarantine themselves or find a way to be smart about that.''

The Saints have combined for an NFL-best 37 victories during the past three regular seasons, only to be bounced from the past three postseasons in losses decided on the final play of each game.

So, Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis sought to err on the side of doing more than required by the NFL in an effort to keep the virus from interfering in what New Orleans expects to be another run at a Super Bowl.

''It was me and Mickey talking about how can we take the protocol given to us by the league and then further improve on it ... and really looking at ways to be a little bit better than the norm,'' Payton said.

Payton was the first NFL coach known to contract COVID-19 back in March. He has said he had mild symptoms for a few days.

The Saints have not had any positive tests since players began reporting to team headquarters for testing on July 27. This week, the Saints began holding meetings and performing non-padded ''walk-through'' practices.

But Payton predicts the NFL will have positive cases throughout the season because the league is not operating in the same kind of highly regulated, monitored and restricted ''bubble'' in which the NBA and NHL have operated while recently restarting their seasons.

''We're fooling ourselves if we think that's not the case,'' Payton said.

''Maybe you live with a spouse, three kids, maybe two kids, but each day, there are multipliers there,'' Payton said. ''We're certainly trying to be smart in limiting our outside contract, but when you're not operating in a clean bubble ... then you're going to have positive tests.''

Payton said the majority of players and staff have been receptive to staying in the hotel.

Among those is punter Thomas Morstead, a father of school-aged children who has made New Orleans his primary residence.

''I am not going to be 100% there every single night,'' Morstead said. ''There'll be some times where I need to get home or need to help out, but I'm going to try and stay at the hotel as often as possible.''

While the Saints have taken numerous measures to make team headquarters relatively safe, Payton said not everything has worked as designed.

He said contract tracing devices have produced ''a ton of technical errors,'' in monitoring how long people inside the practice facility are within six feet of each other.

''We've had a number of these that `Player A' registers that he was next to coach Payton for 18 minutes and then mine registers I was next to him for 29 minutes,'' Payton said.

Payton also said he's ''skeptical' of the clear plastic ''splash shields'' that can be fitted inside the face masks.

''The jury's still out on some of that. When you breath there's still a ventilative hole right there,'' Payton noted. ''That's an option that's available. I'm anxious to see any studies or see some experts' opinions.''

Player Notes
Chris Harris Sep 29 4:34pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers placed cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday and promoted defensive back Jahleel Addae to the active roster in a corresponding move. Harris suffered a foot injury in the Week 3 loss to the Panthers that is expected to keep him out for at least a month and potentially up to six weeks. With All-Pro safety Derwin James (knee) already out for the year, it's another blow to a strong Chargers secondary. The good news is that Harris will be back this season. Against a strong Buccaneers passing attack this Sunday, the Chargers Defense could be a bit more vulnerable, especially against wide receiver Chris Godwin in the middle of the field.

Kareem Jackson Sep 29 4:23pm ET

Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (shoulder) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Sept. 29. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (quad), CB Davontae Harris (hamstring) and RB Phillip Lindsay (foot) were limited. CB Bryce Callahan (wrist), DE Shelby Harris (neck, quad), S Kareem Jackson (back) and S Trey Marshall (wrist) practiced in full. The Broncos did not hold a practice Tuesday, so the report was an estimation.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 29 4:20pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles placed tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, meaning he'll be out at least three weeks. In a corresponding move, the team signed tight end Hakeem Butler to the active roster off the Panthers practice squad. Goedert has a small fracture in his left ankle and also an ankle sprain. He'll be back this year, though, and was a big part of the team's passing game before going down, so he's worth stashing if you have the extra roster space. A banged-up Philly receiving corps will now rely more heavily on Zach Ertz and DeSean Jackson, if he's healthy to go in Week 4. Greg Ward Jr. might be worth a flier off the waiver wire in deeper leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jahleel Addae Sep 29 4:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers CB Chris Harris Jr. (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a foot injury Tuesday, Sept. 29. S Jahleel Addae was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Natrell Jamerson Sep 29 4:13pm ET

Carolina Panthers S Natrell Jamerson was activated from the practice squad Reserve/COVID-19 list and returned to the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 29.

From TheHuddle

Earl Thomas Sep 29 4:03pm ET

Free-agent S Earl Thomas (Ravens) has already taken in offsite physical - likely in preparation to sign with the Houston Texans - but the Texans sent him home before his scheduled workout after the NFL asked all 32 teams to review their COVID-19 procedures for bringing in new players, according to sources.

From TheHuddle

Kai Forbath Sep 29 4:03pm ET

Free-agent PKs Kai Forbath and Elliott Fry are expected to work out for the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 29 3:23pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with an ankle injury Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Fantasy Spin: Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the "hope" is that Goedert can return at the end of his three-week IR stint, although it sounds like it is far from a guarantee. In the meantime, his absence should lock Zach Ertz into nearly 10 targets per game for an offense that may need Greg Ward to handle a similar workload given all the injuries at receiver. Owners should hold onto Goedert, as he has incredible upside at a position that lacks a lot of it for fantasy purposes.

From TheHuddle

Deone Bucannon Sep 29 3:13pm ET

Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards was elevated from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 29. The Falcons also released CB D.J. White and LB Deone Bucannon from the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Darqueze Dennard Sep 29 3:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a hamstring injury Tuesday, Sept. 29.

From TheHuddle

Brett Rypien Sep 29 2:10pm ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien is expected to get the start on Thursday against the Jets over Jeff Driskel, according to sources. Driskel looked terrible, albeit against a strong Buccaneers Defense, in the Week 3 loss, and Drew Lock (shoulder) will miss at least another week of action while he recovers from his injury. Rypien, 24, saw his first game action last Sunday with the game out of hand, going 8-for-9 for 53 yards and one interception. Even against a Jets Defense that has looked terrible, Rypien won't have much upside in an offense missing their top receiver for the rest of the season. Downgrade rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant for this one. If Rypien struggles early, don't be surprised if Denver goes back to Driskel.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ioannidis Sep 29 1:43pm ET

Washington Football Team DE Matt Ioannidis (biceps) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 29. DE Nate Orchard was signed off the practice squad to replace him on the roster.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin Sep 29 1:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) may not be able to play in either of the team's next two games as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 versus the Denver Broncos.

Fantasy Spin: It appears he would have an outside chance of playing in Week 5, but the Buccaneers are scheduled to play the Chicago Bears two Thursdays from now. With Scott Miller (hip, groin) batting his own injury issues, Justin Watson could be thrust into action as Mike Evans' tag-team partner in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers. If that ends up being the case, Watson should probably be considered a low-end flex option.

From TheHuddle

Drew Lock Sep 29 1:20pm ET

There is a chance that Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (shoulder) could play in Week 5 against the Patriots, but the Broncos have more hope that he'll return in Week 6 in a more favorable matchup against the Dolphins. This is why Denver didn't place the 23-year-old on short-term Injured Reserve. The offense was just unable to get into any kind of flow in Week 3 against a tough Buccaneers Defense, and it also doesn't help that wide receiver Courtland Sutton (knee) is lost for the season. Lock's return should make rookie Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant more attractive in season-long and DFS leagues, but the second-year signal-caller will remain a midrange QB2 until further notice with the Broncos dealing with so many injuries. Until Lock returns, Jeff Driskel is a desperation QB2 streamer in superflex setups.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Sep 29 1:20pm ET

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and offensive tackle George Fant (concussion) will all be limited in Tuesday's walkthrough practice. All three players are trending toward playing on Thursday night against the Broncos. It's good news for a Jets offense that has been pitiful without Crowder and running back Le'Veon Bell the last two games. If Crowder suits up this week, he should be quarterback Sam Darnold's top aerial target, which would put him on the flex radar in PPR leagues. Crowder could see even more targets if Breshad Perriman misses another contest with his injury.

From RotoBaller

Damon Arnette Sep 29 1:10pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders rookie cornerback Damon Arnette (thumb) is visiting a thumb specialist on Tuesday after he injured it in the Week 3 loss to the Patriots, and he could be sidelined up to six weeks. In a worst-case scenario, Arnette would be placed on Injured Reserve. The first-round pick fractured the same thumb in training camp, so this is certainly something to watch moving forward. Either way, Arnette should be able to return this year for the Raiders secondary. The 24-year-old has been improving and has tallied 14 tackles (11 solo) and one pass defensed in the first three games of his NFL career.

From RotoBaller

Jermaine Kearse Sep 29 12:03pm ET

Free-agent WR Jermaine Kearse (Lions) announced his retirement Tuesday, Sept. 29.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 29 11:03am ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) has a small fracture in his ankle that will keep him out multiple weeks. He's not expected to require surgery.

Fantasy Spin: Goedert's absence will force the Eagles to rely more on Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders. Richard Rodgers could see a few looks, but it's not enough to move the needle in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 29 11:00am ET

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) has a left ankle fracture and not a sprained ankle, according to an NFL source. Head coach Doug Pederson said that Goedert will be out for an extended period of time, but the source said the timeline for a return shouldn't be too lengthy. Everything will depend on how Goedert's recovery goes. It's bad news for those that roster Goedert, as he had 12 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the first two games before getting injured after just six snaps in the Week 3 tie with the Bengals. Zach Ertz should see his target share increase with Goedert out, especially since Philly's receiving corps is really banged up. If you have the room, Goedert is worth stashing in an Injured Reserve spot since he should return at some point in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Sep 29 12:43am ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes became the fastest player to 10,000 passing yards in NFL history during the Week 3 win against the Baltimore Ravens, doing so in just his 34th career game.

From TheHuddle