METAIRIE — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton expects to give his first-team offense and defense between “14 and 16” snaps in their preseason opener Friday night against the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome.
The plan, Payton said, is typical of what the coaching staff has done in previous exhibition openers. He decided not to deviate from the norm even though they’ve only been working with their players for the last two weeks because of the lockout this spring and summer.
“There may or not be a few exceptions,” Payton said after Thursday’s practice. “Generally, if you say ‘a quarter,’ one side of the ball gets more snaps than the other. So we’ll pay attention to that and make substitutions after we hit that total.”
Payton hinted that quarterback Drew Brees, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and running back Darren Sproles may get a few snaps less.
The second units will play until the third quarter before the third-teamers finish up, Payton said.
A slower pace
Because of the lockout and the fact that veterans who signed new contracts had to be held out of the first week of training camp, Payton said the staff is two or three installations behind where they’d normally be at this time.
He said a week ago he wouldn’t rush the installations just because the Saints had to play a game on Friday night.
“We haven’t had a full, thorough goal line install, nor have we had a full short-yardage install,” he said of his team, which has had only three plays of full contact since camp started.
“There’s plenty of plays we can run in those situations, but that would be the difference from this year compared to the prior years.”
Friday’s game will come just more than a week after the Saints and 49ers essentially traded two highly-respected unrestricted free agents.
First, the Saints signed 49ers defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, a franchise player last year, to a one-year contract. A day later, the 49ers signed Saints center Jonathan Goodwin, a three-year starter, to a three-year deal.
On Friday night, it’ll be kind of strange for both players.
“It is kind of unusual to play against your old team so fast, the first team you get to play,” Franklin said after practice Thursday.
Payton said after practice that tackle Alex Barron and linebacker Ezra Butler had undergone surgical procedures in the last couple of days.
Barron, who had not practiced since Saturday, had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Butler, who had been out with a hamstring injury, underwent surgery Thursday for a sports hernia. He should be out about three weeks.
In addition to Barron and Butler, not practicing Thursday were CB Tracy Porter (knee), RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), WR Marques Colston (knee), LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps), and LB Clint Ingram (hamstring).
T Jon Stinchcomb (knee), T Roger Allen (knee), WR Jarred Fayson (ankle) and WR Adrian Arrington (ankle) all returned to practice after missing time.
Payton ruled Porter, Ivory, Romeus, Colston and Arrington out of Friday’s game —along with Barron and Butler. It was uncertain if Humber and Ingram will play.
Saints, Cox partner
The Saints and Cox Communications announced that they’ve reached agreement on a long-term deal that will keep Cox as the team’s exclusive telecommunications partner through 2015.
In the deal, Cox will provide services at the Saints training facility in Metairie, while Cox Sports Television will continue to carry preseason games, coach’s shows, post-game highlight shows and press conferences.
For the second straight year, Brees will choose a teammate to lead the “Who Dat!” chant in the Superdome just prior to the coin toss. Brees, however, would not reveal who he has selected to lead the fans Friday night.