C.J. Spiller’s time in New Orleans continues to fall well short of expectations — and the fact that Travaris Cadet was able to come back to town this week, step in and perform just days later highlighted that fact.
Spiller, who took 26 snaps against Detroit on Monday — his highest snap count of the season — was not listed on any Saints injury report this week, making the running back’s inactive status a surprise.
Playing in his place, Cadet caught three passes for 69 yards, including a touchdown, and ran once for 6 yards. His yardage output exceed anything Spiller did in a single game, outside of a win over Dallas in which he finished with 109 yards from scrimmage.
Cadet, who also had stints with the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers after the Saints declined to re-sign him after last season, said he was not surprised by his success during Sunday’s 38-27 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“If they call you and you’re on the couch, then you’re going to stay on the couch,” Cadet said. “However, if you’re out working, fighting adversity and not giving up, then you’ll make it. A true champion always fights back.”
Spiller, who is averaging 3.1 yards per carry and has 34 catches for 239 yards this season, has played on just 19.7 percent of the snaps this season.
Coach Sean Payton said after the game he spoke with Spiller and told him to rest up and try to get healthy for next season. Spiller has battled issues since undergoing knee surgery during training camp.
“A lot of it had to do with just where he is at health-wise,” Payton said. “He and I spoke during the week. He’s healthy, and yet he just needs to get that strength back in his leg and that really promoted us to move Travaris up.
“There was no injury. He’s still fighting to get that strength back in the leg from that injury in training camp. That’s been the main reason.”
Payton said he was impressed with how quickly Cadet picked things up.
“He’s smart, so he’s a quick study,” Payton said. “When we claimed him, the feeling was that he could have some type of package, depending on how much we were in it. We were able to get a couple of matchups that we liked.
“He’s really a quick learner. The terminology hasn’t changed; he just had a few other stops and then came back. I was pleased with how he played.”
In addition to Spiller, right tackle Zach Strief, who had played all but two snaps at right tackle this season, missed Sunday’s game with an elbow injury. Wide receiver Marques Colston was also inactive, as expected.
One last surprise for the Saints was veteran linebacker James Anderson, who played 108 snaps over the previous three games. He was inactive even though Dannell Ellerbe was out with a hip injury.
Reports fly on Payton’s status
With only two games and eight days left in the 2015 season, multiple national outlets released reports about the future of the Saints on Sunday.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and CBS’ Jason La Canfora both reported that Payton could be interested in the San Diego Chargers if he decides to leave New Orleans this offseason.
Payton has rebuffed such speculation this season, saying he sees himself in New Orleans long-term, citing the house he just built and how close it is to his children.
But Rapoport reported that Payton has privately discussed the opening in San Diego.
Rapoport also reported that Drew Brees, who is headed into the final year of a contract that would set New Orleans with a $30 million cap hit next year, will have to take a hometown discount to return.
If Payton stays, La Canfora reported, there could be a front-office shakeup that would involve Mickey Loomis moving to a higher position in the front office and Jeff Ireland assuming GM duties. If he leaves, La Canfora said Doug Marrone could be a target.
The Saints set a record for futility Sunday.
The team has now allowed 43 touchdown passes, which breaks the previous single-season mark of 40 set in 1963 by the Denver Broncos.