Saints minus two assistants more in the middle of protocols

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The list of assistant coaches not with the New Orleans Saints for their game Sunday vs. The Carolina Panthers grew Saturday.

The Saints announced that defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and passing specialist Brian Young will not be with the team in his second game of the season due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. Nielsen and Young’s duties will be shared among the defensive staff, the team said, adding that offensive coach Brendan Nugent will be with the club in Carolina.

Saturday’s announcement brings the team to a total of eight coaches unavailable this week, and the Saints are missing at least three starters due to injuries as they look to improve to 2-0.

Defender Marcus Davenport (shoulder) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (elbow) were both placed on injured reserve on Friday, meaning they will be on the sidelines for at least three weeks. Center Erik McCoy (calf) and back-linebackers Pete Werner (femur) and Chase Hansen (groin) were also ruled out for Sunday’s match.

Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore will have a chance to play on Sunday despite a thumb operation earlier in the week. Lattimore is listed as questionable after practicing to a limited extent Thursday and Friday, and coach Sean Payton said he is likely to be a “game-time decision”.

The coaches, meanwhile, were ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, tight coach Dan Roushar, running back coach Joel Thomas, offensive analyst Jim Chaney, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and special teams assistant Phil Galiano were among the first names to be announced as out Friday.

Payton said earlier this week that all coaches were vaccinated so they can return to work when they have two negative tests at 24-hour intervals.

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead said Payton has been “kind of getting back to his early days” this week while doing more practical training with different position groups.

“He runs around. He trains every position,” Armstead said. “I think he’s having fun taking up the challenge of missing some good minds in our coaching staff. He’s leaning towards some of the older guys and veterans to help where he sees fit. But his energy has been “And it’s Sean. Never one to use any situation as an excuse, and that kind of approach spreads to a team.”

Lattimore is crucial to New Orleans’ defense against a divisional competitor featuring uniquely wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. The Saints, however, will have veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in the lineup for the first time Sunday after acquiring him in a trade with the Houston Texans last week. And rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo played well in his debut, intercepting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Starting safety CJ Gardner-Johnson (knee), reserve defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (calf) and reserve defensive back PJ Williams (back) are also listed as questionable for Sunday’s match.

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