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FORT WORTH, Texas – The New Orleans Saints will be without seven assistant coaches Sunday in Carolina due to COVID -19 protocols and will be missing at least three starters due to injuries.
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 by the Saints on Friday afternoon after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, wide receiving coach Curtis Johnson, tight coach Dan Roushar, running back coach Joel Thomas, offensive analyst Jim Chaney, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and special team assistant Phil Galiano all miss Sunday’s game.
Payton said all the coaches were vaccinated so they can return to work when they have two negative tests at 24-hour intervals. Apparently, however, it did not happen in time for them to leave on Saturday.
Payton joked that he, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry and assistant offensive line coach Zach Strief have been like the small coaching staff from the show “Ted Lasso”, while the other position coaches have attended meetings via video conferencing.
Among the lower-level assistants who have risen for the Saints is former Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who joined the team this summer as a coach / scout through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Bushrod worked with the tight ends in practice.
“It’s not always what you’re used to, and yet those guys zoom in on meetings, they zoom in on evening meetings while we attack and defend,” Payton said. “And thing # 1 is that they rest and get healthy. They get tested every day, and in the meantime, there are others here who pick up extra work. We meet more collectively than anyone who has broken up into our groups. So, bottom line is that I’ve been doing as well as expected. “
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.”
As for the injured players, it is a disappointing setback for Davenport and Alexander – who have both struggled with a number of injuries over the course of their careers.
Alexander had just made an impressive recovery from a torn Achilles he suffered in December before starting in Week 1. He also suffered a torn chest with the San Francisco 49ers in 2019 and a sprained ankle in 2020 before being traded to the Saints .
Davenport missed a total of 12 games in its first three seasons with the Saints with toe, foot and elbow injuries.
Rookie’s defensive end Payton Turner, the Saints’ first-round draft pick, and second-year linebacker Zack Baun will be among those needed to step into more prominent roles.
Lattimore injured his thumb during Sunday’s 38-3 win over the Green Bay Packers — the same day he signed a five-year, $ 97.6 million contract extension.
Asked what is included in the decision on when a player can be approved to play with a hand injury wrapped for protection, Payton said it depends on the specific injury.
“If you go back through history, then what is the damage itself?” Said Payton. “We will see how he feels today [in Friday’s practice]. And he’s probably going to be one of those guys who’s a decision in playing time. He moves around well. He’s in shape. It’s just a matter of what type of injury each person has and what position they play. “
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.