When the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers open the regular season Thursday night, a nationwide television audience will get to see a pair of young coaches whose careers are almost mirror images of each other.
Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy were a pair of eager 42-year-olds with no previous head coaching experience whey they took over the Saints and Packers, respectively, in 2006. But that’s hardly the only thing they have in common.
After five seasons, they have almost identical records - both in the regular season and playoffs. And, of course, both have led their teams to a Super Bowl win, with the Saints taking the title after the 2009 season and the Packers winning last year.
Payton is 53-33 overall, going 49-31 in the regular season and 4-2 in the postseason. McCarthy, the Saints offensive coordinator from 2000-04, is 53-34 overall with a 48-32 mark in regular-season play and is 5-2 in the playoffs.
Moore rests again
Saints wide receiver Lance Moore did not practice again Tuesday as he continues to nurse a groin injury that he suffered two weeks ago.
Payton said Moore worked Sunday, but then was held out Monday and Tuesday.
While it would appear that Moore’s chances of playing Thursday are slim with only a walkthrough remaining on Wednesday, Payton said he’d be the kind of player who could play without practicing.
“We’ll see where he’s at (Wednesday) and the final report comes out,” Payton said after Tuesday’s practice. “From a mental standpoint, he would be the type of guy who could do that because he knows what we do cold.”
Besides Moore, the only player on the 53-man roster to not practice Tuesday was kicker Garrett Hartley.
Hartley injured his right hip in an Aug. 28 exhibition game at Oakland and probably won’t play for several weeks.
Wide receiver Adrian Arrington (knee) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf) both worked limited after Arrington didn’t work at all Monday.
For the Packers, starting left tackle Chad Clifton (knee) did not practice after working Monday and tight end Jermichael Finley (ankle) was limited for the second straight day. Linebacker Frank Zombo (shoulder) also did not work Tuesday and won’t play.
Strief’s new job
Saints right tackle Zach Strief, who took over when veteran Jon Stinchcomb was released in mid-August, won’t miss his old role now that he’s a starter.
In addition to being a backup tackle, Strief served the past couple of seasons as an extra tight end, which required him to report as an eligible receiver to the referee before every play he was involved in.
“I hope it’s the end of my tight end career,” Strief said. “But I’ve always appreciated those reps and those opportunities because a lot of guys don’t get those.
“A lot of guys don’t have the chance to play when they’re in the role that I was in, but clearly I want to keep my job at right tackle.”
Welcome to the NFL
Some youngsters might be intimidated by playing in a highly anticipated game like the one Thursday night, but not Saints rookie running back Mark Ingram.
Payton said Ingram is set after a solid and consistent training camp and is ready for whatever’s thrown at him, whether it’s running the ball or giving Drew Brees added pass protection.
Part of that, Payton said, comes from playing in big games at Alabama. But he also jokingly reminded the 21-year-old Ingram of something.
“I told him we’re not playing Kent State this weekend, we don’t get a couple of warm-ups,” Payton said.