Saints defense puts together a complete game in 24-17 victory at Tampa Bay _lowres

Associated Press photo by Brian Blanco -- Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws a pass against the Buccaneers during the fourth quarter Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Brees threw his 420th and 421st touchdown passes to leap-frog former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino into fourth place on the career list.

TAMPA —Damian Swann, who returned to action Sunday for the first time in four games, was carted from the field in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ 24-17 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Swann, a rookie cornerback who has shown promise, was making a return to the field after missing six of the past seven games because of concussions suffered against the Eagles and Giants.

With the Buccaneers driving in the fourth quarter, Swann made a tackle on a charging Charles Sims over the middle and stayed down on the field for a couple of minutes before trainers and Saints coach Sean Payton helped him to the sideline. After the trainers evaluated the rookie, Swann was carted off the field.

Payton did not say after the game whether Swann had suffered his third concussion.

“We’ll evaluate it, and then we’ll know,” Payton said. “It’d be too early to tell.”

Swann had not suffered a concussion on the football field before this season.

But an impact with the ground in Philadelphia caused his first concussion, and after missing two weeks, he suffered another when his head hit the ground in his first game back against New York, forcing the rookie to miss the next four games. Given his history, Swann going to the field was a jarring sight for the Saints.

“It always is (scary),” Payton said. “We’ll be smart and evaluate him, and make sure he goes through the proper protocol.”

Swann has said in the past that he’s aware of the potential long-term ramifications, and the team understands the concern.

“There’s a lot of concern,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “I know my rookie year, when I got two — I mean, I’m a little crazy, so I was like whatever, I’ll keep playing — but it was in the back of my mind, if I got my third one, they’d shut me down.”

If Swann suffered another concussion, New Orleans could place the rookie on injured reserve.

“For your safety as a player, you want to go on IR,” Vaccaro said. “Awareness for concussions has risen so much the past couple of years that they’re not playing with it. That’s why you see guys get concussions and miss three weeks.”

Passing a legend

Drew Brees is at the point in his career where he could pass a major milestone almost every week.

The Saints’ veteran quarterback tossed the 420th and 421st touchdown passes of his career in the first half against Tampa Bay, passing Dan Marino into fourth place on the all-time list for touchdown passes.

Brees trails only Peyton Manning (539), Brett Favre (508) and Tom Brady (423, not counting Sunday night’s game) on the all-time list.

“It’s humbling,” Brees said. “My first NFL game ever, preseason game, back in 2001 when I was a rookie, was down in Miami at the stadium there, I think it was Joe Robbie Stadium. I remember going on the field in pregame and looking up at their Ring of Honor, and there’s Dan Marino’s name.”

Next to Marino’s name, the Dolphins listed his passing records, which were all-time bests at the time.

“I remember looking up there and thinking, those are astronomical,” Brees said. “Those are impossible.”

McAllister on the mic

Former Saints running back Deuce McAllister handled the color analyst duties on the Saints’ radio broadcast Sunday, taking over from long-time announcer Hokie Gajan as he recently began treatment for cancer.

“I thought it went well,” McAllister said. “It helps to get a ‘W.’ Working with the crew, those guys are veterans.”

McAllister said he likes the effort he’s seen from the Saints recently, even in a 41-38 lost to unbeaten Carolina.

“There’s a saying: ‘What you put on tape is out there,’” he said. “You have to make sure you go out and compete the right way. I’m proud of the way they competed.”

McAllister said he wasn’t sure if he will call next Monday night’s home game against the Detroit Lions or whether Gajan will be able to return.