The Saints have plenty of issues to sort out during their time off this week. Chief among those issues is getting healthy and figuring out how to fill out their roster.
New Orleans suffered a rash of injuries during Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, namely with tight end Jimmy Graham and center Jonathan Goodwin being knocked out of action.
A report from NFL Network labeled Graham’s injury as a sprained shoulder, but coach Sean Payton refused to get into specifics about the tight end’s condition.
Goodwin addressed the media Monday and said the knee injury he suffered is not serious.
“I felt like I couldn’t push off good enough,” Goodwin said. “I thought it would have been selfish if I know I’m not healthy enough to get through it and play well and be effective, I should come out of the game.”
Goodwin, who has suffered ankle, neck and knee injuries in consecutive weeks, said he’s thankful to be coming up on the off week.
“I think I’ve had like four straight weeks of knickknacks,” Goodwin said. “Normally I like for the bye to be later in the year. But this year, I’ll thankfully take it in Week 6.”
Payton refused to comment when asked about the status of running back Mark Ingram, who is fighting his way back from a hand injury.
The coach did, however, address the roster spot created by safety Jairus Byrd’s knee injury. The team has not yet officially placed Byrd on injured reserve after he suffered a lateral meniscus tear during practice last week, but the team plans to fill his roster spot in the near future.
“We didn’t have to work on or act on that immediately because whoever we signed wouldn’t have played in the game,” Payton said. “Whenever that comes up, you wait until the weekend’s over with. ... We’ll look at it closely and look at what we want to do, but we have time.
“It very well could be someone on a practice squad for another team.”
Kenny Vaccaro did not feel like himself during the first four weeks of the season. He wasn’t moving like he wanted to or playing up to the standard he set for himself.
He said he doesn’t want to make excuses, but he admitted Monday that the ankle injury he suffered at the end of last season has been bothering him. He said Sunday was the first time this season that he has felt like himself on the field.
“I’ve been kind of beat up the first four games,” Vaccaro said. “This game, I was just lights out, didn’t care. Kind of got back to my old self from last year.”
He continued: “People forget that I broke my ankle the last week of the season. It’s not as easy as y’all think it is coming back from that. I might not show it or I might not say anything about it. It definitely had to get going the first couple of games. I feel great now.”
SCOUTING THE ZEBRAS
The opposing team isn’t the only group of people the Saints scout each week. The team also takes a long, critical look at the officiating crew to get an idea of how the game will be called.
This week, the three-page report the team put together on referee Carl Cheffers’ crew showed that the flags would be flying. So it was no surprise that there were 21 accepted penalties during Sunday’s 37-31 win over the Bucs.
“The one thing we did know when we profiled these guys on Friday was: There’s a crew that’s tops in the league with penalties called, and then there’s a distant gap between second, third, fourth and fifth,” Payton said. “That’s the case this year, and we had that crew yesterday.”
The gap might not be as big as Payton suggests. Cheffer’s crew is second in the league in called penalties with 21.8 per game heading into Week 5, according to ESPN. The crew in third place averages 21.5.
One penalty that was prevalent Sunday was illegal hands to the face. It’s something that players are struggling with, and defensive end Cam Jordan noted that the rule has changed the way game is played.
“The rules that they implemented this year, you just have to learn to abide by them even if you idolized people like Reggie White and Chris Doleman and all the rest of those old-school road warriors,” Jordan said. “You just watch them play, and that’s not how you can play now. Times change and rules change.”