We learned two things Friday afternoon about the ongoing feud between Saints coach Sean Payton and disgruntled former running back Darren Sproles:
1. Sproles still doesn’t like the Saints seven months after the franchise traded him to Philadelphia where he’s continued his role as an offensive game changer.
2. The feeling isn’t mutual, Payton said.
“I would list him, easily, my top five most favorite players to coach,” Payton said.
Sproles told NJ.com that the Saints “disrespected,” him; first, by not keeping their word to cut him (versus trade), then to let him discover the trade via Twitter.
Payton called the report, “old news,” citing Sproles made similar comments after he was traded. Sproles said the Saints promised they would release him, which would have allowed him to pick his own NFL destination. Instead, he was traded for a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
The saga continued when Sproles’ wife took to social media to voice her displeasure. Her message went viral before she deleted it.
With Philadelphia, Sproles has 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 152 receiving yards. He’s also scored on an 82-yard score on a punt return.
Calling in the reserves
With free safety Jairus Byrd out for the season (torn lateral meniscus) the Saints may need to rely on more reserves, as well as starters, to fill the void.
That includes cornerback Corey White (foot), who Payton listed as probable for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay (1-3). Safety Marcus Ball (hamstring) is also probable. Both were limited at Friday’s practice.
Also limited Friday were center Jonathan Goodwin (neck) and left tackle Terron Armstead (concussion), who were also listed as probable Sunday.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson (thigh), tight end Benjamin Watson (groin) and linebackers David Hawthorne (ankle) and Curtis Lofton (shoulder) are listed as probable.
Papa Byrd always fan of son
Jairus Byrd’s father, Gill Byrd, is the cornerbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Friday — before the announcement of Jarius’ season-ending injury — Gill spoke favorably about his son and their matchup against each other’s teams on Sunday.
“I am a Jairus Byrd fan 16 games a year,” Gill Byrd was quoted by ESPN.com in Tampa. “I want him to play the best game of his career every game, including when he plays the team I’m coaching. I’m a Saints fan for 14 games a year. But I’m a Bucs coach 16 games a year, and I want to win every game.”
Bucs RB compliment Saints
Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin complimented the Saints defense Friday, saying the unit is known for having a lot of guys “running to the ball.”
Martin chose to omit the unit’s challenge of tackling once there.
Martin hopes to follow Dallas’s DeMarco Murray (149 yards, two TDs) with a solid performance against the Saints.
This season has started slow for the Saints defense and Martin, who has 23 carries for 49 yards and one score. He’s missed two games with injuries.
“Physically, I feel pretty good,” he said. “I don’t feel my knee (hurting) anymore. I feel 100 percent.”