After getting pointers from Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid a couple of years ago on how to deal with a bye week, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has enjoyed the same results Reid has - to a lesser degree.
Which is why Payton decided to give his team an extended period of time away from the practice field before bringing them back next week to start preparing for a Nov. 28 game with the New York Giants.
Two years ago, Payton was 0-3 in the first game after a bye when he dialed up Reid, who, at the time, was 10-0 after a week off. Reid has since added three more wins and is 13-0 after ripping the Dallas Cowboys 34-7 last month.
The secret, Reid told Payton, was to give his players as much down time as possible to let them relax and recharge their batteries.
Since Payton backed off a regimented bye-week practice schedule, the Saints won their post-bye game in both 2009 and ‘10.
He didn’t want to mess with the football gods this season and turned his team loose again.
“Prior to the ‘09 year, I had a chance to visit with Andy,” Payton said. “You call around and you try to find out what guys do. I don’t know that there’s anyone in our league that’s been better after a bye than Andy and the Eagles.”
Of course, it’s a lot easier to do when the formula has worked the past two seasons and you’re 7-3 and atop the NFC South standings by 1-1/2 games.
“We talked to the players about it and got everyone out of the building for a good period of time,” Payton added. “There’s a part of you, as a coach, that feels like when that happens, you’re not nervous, but you feel like you want to be back in the building.
“Yet you also recognize that after 10 weeks, there is a point it can be beneficial both physically and mentally.”
During a news conference Wednesday, Payton did not confirm a report that three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Citing league sources, the Times-Picayune reported after Sunday’s 26-23 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons that Vilma had a cleanup procedure on his knee. Vilma has missed the past two games because of the ailing knee.
Payton said only that Vilma, who was hurt in Week 2 and later played five games with the injury, is rehabbing the knee and is hoping to be back for the next game against the Giants.
When asked about Vilma, Payton said, “I’d rather update you guys next week and not really get into detail right now. I know he’s doing well. He hasn’t really made mention to it, and I don’t want to as well, especially during this bye week.”
Veteran strong safety Roman Harper was named Wednesday as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his work in the win over the Falcons.
After a review of the coach’s film, Harper was credited with 16 tackles, two altered passes and a sack. He also broke up one pass. The release from the NFL noted that six of his tackles came within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage or behind it.
Harper, who also won the award in Week 2, is the third safety in franchise history to be honored as Defensive Player of the Week twice in one season, joining Sammy Knight (2001) and Malcolm Jenkins (2010).
Porter to help needy
Cornerback Tracy Porter, a Port Allen native, will spend his off day Sunday hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for needy families at DC’s Grill in Port Allen.
Porter, one of the heroes of the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV win, recently launched his Tracy Porter Pick Six Foundation. The 501(c) (3) foundation provides underprivileged youth with support systems and mentoring activities to better themselves through academics and recreation.
Porter will be joined by former LSU star Chad Jones in hosting and feeding about 100 people who were selected with the help of Porter’s church.
“Thanksgiving is a time for family,” Porter said in a news release. “I want this dinner to bring people together during the holidays, and give them a chance to share the many things we have to be thankful for.”
Drew Brees is one of three nominees for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week, which is voted on by fans via the Internet.
Brees, who is going against New England’s Tom Brady and Dallas’ Tony Romo, was 30-of-43 for 322 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions in the win over the Falcons. He had a passer rating of 106.9.
Fans have until 11 a.m. Friday to vote at http://www.NFL.com/
FedEx, with the winner to be announced later that evening.
The Saints on Monday waived reserve tackle Ray Willis and signed tackle William Robinson from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster.
Willis, a former Seattle Seahawks starter, was signed on Nov. 2 when backup tackle Charles Brown was put on injured reserve with a hip injury that required season-ending surgery. Willis, however, was inactive for the two games he was with the Saints.