After having X-rays on his injured left knee Wednesday, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton hopes to be back on the sideline when his team returns from its bye week for a Nov. 28 game with the New York Giants.
When Payton had surgery to repair a torn meniscus and fractured tibia on Oct. 17, his doctor said it would be about eight weeks before he could put partial weight on the leg.
But Payton told Tampa Bay reporters on a conference call Wednesday that he hoped to be back on the sideline for the Monday Night Football game with the Giants in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Payton will be in the coaches’ booth high above the Superdome for a third straight game when the Saints play the Bucs on Sunday, three weeks after he was hurt in the first Tampa Bay game in Raymond James Stadium.
“I had an X-ray (Wednesday) and it looked good,” Payton said during his daily news conference Thursday. “I’m kind of a little bit ahead of schedule. We looked at the fracture area and the screws and the plate that are in it.
“I didn’t realize there were seven screws in there. I’ll be setting off some alarms at the airport for the rest of my life. Overall, it’s doing well.”
On the mend
Payton was asked if a possible early return to the sideline might be a result of his team’s 31-21 loss to the previously-winless St. Louis Rams last week.
“You want to get down as soon as you can,” he said. “Really, the holdup is the fracture area (in the tibia).
“It wasn’t specifically because of that game, but each Monday we have a chance to meet with the doctors about our players and then we had a chance to sit down and he wanted to do a follow up X-ray-which would be pretty standard. Things look good.”
There was no change in the Saints’ practice report Thursday as only running back Mark Ingram and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma did not work.
Ingram continues to be sidelined by a bruised right heel that he suffered on Oct. 23 and will likely miss his second straight game Sunday.
Vilma has not practiced or has been limited since being injuring his left knee in a Week 2 game with the Chicago Bears. But he missed just one game and has started the last five games with very little practice during the week.
Right tackle Zach Strief (knee), defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (ankle), tight end David Thomas (concussion) and weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee) all had full participation again Thursday.
Jackson sits out
For the Bucs, free safety Tanard Jackson, who was not listed on the injury report Wednesday, didn’t practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury.
Jackson came up with one of the three interceptions of Saints quarterback Drew Brees in their first meeting on Oct. 16.
Also not working Thursday were tackle Jeremy Zuttah (knee), tight end Kellen Winslow (not injury related) and defensive tackle Frank Okam (calf), who was held out after working limited Wednesday.
The Saints rank near the bottom of the NFL with eight takeaways, but they make them count when they get them as they’ve been turned into 52 points.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ unit has had four interceptions and four fumble recoveries and is responsible for two of the touchdowns - a 42-yard interception return by cornerback Leigh Torrence and a fumble created on a sack by safety Malcolm Jenkins and covered in the end zone by Vilma.
The offense has cashed in on the other six takeaways with six touchdowns and a field goal.
Former Saints safety Sammy Knight will become the latest inductee into the Saints Hall of Fame during a dinner Saturday night in the Superdome.
Knight, an undrafted free agent from USC, played for the Saints from 1997-2002 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2001.
A ball-hawking safety, he led the Saints in interceptions in five of his six seasons and ranks third in club history with 28 interceptions. He still holds the franchise record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Bruce Miller, a 50-year veteran of TV and radio broadcasting in New Orleans, will also be honored as this year’s recipient of the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis Award for contributions to the franchise.