After being released from the hospital on Wednesday, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton began getting back into his game-week routine Thursday when he oversaw portions of his team’s practice.
Payton underwent surgery Monday morning for a fractured tibia and torn meniscus in his left knee following a sideline collision with tight end Jimmy Graham and two Tampa Bay defenders in a 26-20 setback to the Bucs a day earlier.
A few hours after leaving the hospital, Payton joined his coaching staff for Wednesday night meetings as they continued preparing for Sunday night’s game with the Indianapolis Colts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
On Thursday, Payton used a golf cart for the walkthough and individual drills, then held his daily news conference for the first time since being hurt. He’ll call offensive plays Sunday night from the coaches’ booth high above the Superdome field.
“I think more than anything it’s just looking at the schedule and just deciding how much of it you’re going to be able to see,” Payton said of dealing with practice and his leg.
“There is some soreness of course and swelling, so I think it’s going to work just fine in regards to logistics (of practice).
“We’re in a routine and on a schedule, and that serves us well whenever there’s any type of distraction. I don’t see this being a big one, but we stay with our normal schedule.”
Graham, who has four straight 100-yard receiving games, was added to the practice report Thursday after he missed the workout with ankle soreness that cropped up following Wednesday’s practice.
It wasn’t immediately known if the injury was considered serious or if trainers and coaches simply wanted him to rest up and hope the soreness subsides. Payton will give his final injury report for the week and game status following Friday’s practice.
Also out because of injury Thursday were defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (ankle), middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), tackle Zach Strief (knee), defensive end Turk McBride (shoulder), strongside linebacker Will Herring (hamstring). Center Olin Kreutz was excused for personal reasons.
Tight ends David Thomas (concussion) and John Gilmore (neck.shoulder) had limited participation.
Two former LSU players, running back Joseph Addai (hamstring) and defensive tackle Drake Nevis (back), were among the Colts who missed practice again Thursday. Quarterback Peyton Manning, who’s recovering from two neck surgeries, also didn’t work and won’t play Sunday.
Like the coach he used to work for, Bill Parcells, Payton often uses his sense of humor to poke fun at his players -leaving motivational tools in their lockers when he thinks they need something to get them going.
One of his tricks backfired on him when he stepped into his office Wednesday night, however, as among the cookies, balloons and well-wishes was a fragile china doll on his desk that he subtly uses to motivate players who are nursing injuries.
Attached to the doll, Payton said, was a note that read, “Return to Sender.”
Piling up the yardage
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has 2,152 passing yards in the first six games of the season, is averaging 358.7 yards per game and is on pace to throw for 5,738 yards.
That total which would easily eclipse his personal mark of 5,069 yards, which he established in 2008, and Dan Marino’s all-time NFL record of 5,084 yards.
Brees ranks second in the NFL in passing yards, just 11 behind New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady - who has 2,163 yards so far.
Hall of Fame tickets
Tickets for the Saints Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, which include the All Saints Night Gala and enshrinement dinner are still available.
Former Saints safety Sammy Knight is this year’s inductee, while longtime New Orleans broadcaster Bruce Miller will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis Award for his contributions to the organization.
Tickets to the All Saints Night Gala, which is set for Nov. 4 from 6-10 p.m. at the Rivertown Exhibition Hall in Kenner, are $50 per person. Tickets for the induction banquet, to be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 in the Bienville Room of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, are $75 each.
For more information, call Ken Trahan at (504) 309-1004, ext. 209.