Tim Hightower had trouble sleeping on Sunday night.
Hours after the best performance of his remarkable comeback story, Hightower found himself drifting off, then popping back awake as visions of bigger and better things flooded his mind.
Hightower, who picked up 122 yards on 27 carries in Sunday’s 38-27 win over Jacksonville for his first 100-yard performance since 2010, wanted to head right back to the field.
“When you have an opportunity that I’ve been given, you just want to take advantage of it,” Hightower said. “I just kept thinking about what I could have done better and what I can do next week to get better. I literally couldn’t get back to sleep.”
Hightower’s performance emphatically validated three years of fighting to come back from a crippling knee injury, proving the 29-year-old can still shred a defense.
And Hightower hopes his late-season performance as the Saints’ lead back — he has 309 yards and three touchdowns for New Orleans — will extend his comeback into 2016, whether it’s with the Saints or another NFL team.
“I can only hope so,” Hightower said. “All I know is that I’ve given it my best these last several weeks and plan to do so this final week, if that’s good enough to earn me an opportunity next year.”
Andrus Peat has spent most of his rookie season filling in at spots other than the one the Saints drafted him to play.
Peat finally got his chance on Sunday against Jacksonville.
With starting right tackle Zach Strief sidelined with an elbow injury, Peat made his seventh start of the season, this time in the spot the Saints projected him to eventually take over when New Orleans selected the Stanford product with the 13th pick of the 2015 draft.
“I think he played well yesterday, probably one of his better games this season,” Payton said, “at a position that certainty he is more comfortable with and fit for.”
Peat has made seven starts this season: two at left tackle, four at left guard and finally Sunday’s start at his natural position. By moving him around, New Orleans has gotten its top pick 426 snaps as he learns behind Strief.
“One of the challenges he has been faced with is he has worked at left tackle, worked at left guard, played left guard and then over to right tackle,” Payton said. “I’ve said this before and I think it’s important to say it again. We see Andrus as a tackle.”