First, cornerback Keenan Lewis said hello from New Orleans.
“That’s my guy,” Lewis, grinning, said of Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy on Thursday afternoon.
Lewis, though, had more to say of Lacy, also a Westbank product in Greater New Orleans. Like most of the NFL, Lewis will be in no rush Sunday night to greet Lacy during one of his potential runs through the Saints secondary.
The Saints (2-4) host Green Bay (5-2) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“I’m going to ask him not to try to drop his knees (during contact),” Lewis said of Lacy, who has 92 carries for 369 yards (4.0 yards average) and four touchdowns.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t try to take anything out on me. ... I’m (definitely) going to ask him for a little favor. I don’t want too much problem.”
Lacy prepped at Helen Cox in Harvey, not far from Lewis’ O. Perry Walker High (now Landry-Walker). Lacy then starred at the University of Alabama, while Lewis played at Oregon State.
Lacy is in his second NFL season; Lewis in his sixth, his second with his hometown team.
Saints outside linebacker Parys Haralson is preparing for a less-friendly approach to Lacy, whose production this season is similar his 2013 rookie campaign — he had 352 yards and two TDs entering last fall’s Week 8, playing in two less games than this fall. Still, his strong running style, coupled by an offensive line which blocks well for him, makes Lacy a tough go.
“He’s one of those guys that’s not going to go down with an arm tackle, so you have to get there, wrap up and get a body on the tackle,” Haralson said. “We have to be able to get on and off blocks, gang tackle and do what we’ve been doing; run to the ball, get a bunch of hats on him. Technically sound football, gap sound.
“It’s no secret. You have to tackle him.”
Said Saints coach Sean Payton: “They are committed to running the football and I think he’s giving them that, the yards, the yards after contact.”
The Saints defense is allowing opposing running backs an average of 103.2 yards and nearly one score per game.
NT Bunkley limited
Nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (concussion) was limited at Thursday’s practice, which coupled with the recent loss of defensive end Glenn Foster to a season-ending knee injury is expected to lead to more playing time for second-year nose tackle John Jenkins.
“He is back in the rotation now,” Payton said of Jenkins. “He and we kind of went back and forth with (Brandon) Deaderick. (Deaderick) was getting (in) some of the early games just because of John’s health. Now with Foster going to IR, it’s a good chance that both of those guys will be up and going.”
Lorig getting in game shape
Fullback Erik Lorig returned from an ankle injury last Wednesday, but was inactive for Sunday’s 24-23 loss at Detroit. On Thursday, Lorig said his immediate challenge is to get back into football shape nearly midway through the 2014 season.
“The entire time I’ve been with the team, I’ve been in meetings, trying to keep (my) brain going and very focused the entire time, keep yourself in the moment,” said Lorig, who this offseason was signed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, Austin Johnson has handled fullback duties for the Saints.
Robinson, Thomas don’t practice
Running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) did not practice Thursday, as well as running back Pierre Thomas, who is expected to miss Sunday’s game with a rib/shoulder injury. Center Jonathan Goodwin (knee/ankle) and linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle) also missed practice. Lewis (knee/shoulder), linebacker Ramon Humber (ankle), tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) and Bunkley (concussion) were limited.
For Green Bay, cornerback Sam Shields (knee) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) did not practice, while defensive end Datone Jones (ankle) and running back James Starks (ankle) were limited.
Come dressed in black
Saints players went on Twitter on Thursday night and asked fans to wear all black to the Packers game. “Let’s black out the dome!” Saints pass-rusher Junior Galette tweeted. Punter Thomas Morstead tweeted that the Saints would wear black jerseys and black pants and said, “Y’all do the same.”