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Kristian Garic

Talk sports and more with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weeknights 8pm-Midnight

Twitter: @kristiangaric
Email: kristian@wwl.com


Kristian: Armstead out again for Sunday's Saints game

Injury report: For the second straight game the Saints will be without left tackle Terron Armstead (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday's week four match up against San Diego.  CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), Tackle Tony Hills (ankle), and Senio Kelemete (hamstring) have all been ruled out this week.  WR Willie Snead (toe), S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) DT Tyeler Davison (foot/shoulder) LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) LB James Laurinatis (quad) are all questionable for this week. 

Shakeup: I'm starting to wonder if the Saints might shake up the defense with some personell changes. "I think at some point you have to think about it, or do it, because you risk losing your team if you don't make changes. If players see that one player can keep making mistakes and still play, you will lose the respect of the locker room," explained Deuce McAllister. Safety Jairus Byrd could be a candidate to watch for replacement.

Prediction:  The Saints feel the pressure that is 0-3 facing the bye next week, and certainly understand going into the open date winless and sitting on the loss for two weeks.  With that said I just feel like the Saints are too banged up and not talented enough to win this game.  I think the Chargers pull it out late with a close win over the Saints 38-35, despite a herculean effort from quarterback Drew Brees. Sound familiar?
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Kristian: James Laurinaitis added to Saints injury report

The Saints injury report remains the same as yesterday ahead of this week's match up with the San Diego Chargers with the addition of LB James Laurinaitis with a quad injury. He was limited in practice today.  I expect Laurinaitis to play this week against the Chargers.

LT Terron Armstead was not on the practice field and did not practice today.  Armstead is listed on the injury report with a knee injury.  Coach Sean Payton said today in his conference call the injury is not long term, and that was the only comment he had on it.  Armstead did not play on Monday night against Atlanta and Andrus Peat filled in at left tackle in Armstead's absence.  I would expect to see the same line up this week against the Chargers.  

G Senio Kelemete (hamstring) also did not practice, which likely means Tim Lelito will be the starting left guard on Sunday.  TE Josh Hill and CB Delvin Breaux were among the players that missed practice with Armstead and Kelemete.  DT Tyeler Davison (foot/shoulder), WR Willie Snead (toe), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) were all limited in practice. 

The Saints are scrapping for any optimism they can find after starting 0-3, doing their best sales job to the fans and media that the team won't splinter and point fingers. "We're two games back, so it's a bump. If you keep losing you're in a hole and then you find yourself not going to the playoffs and knowing that by the middle of the season," explained safety Kenny Vaccaro.  

I would describe it differently then a bump - more like a pot hole that you find so often in New Orleans! An 0-4 start before the bye could turn that bump into a Superdome-sized crater.  What about the injuries you say? The Saints are banged up "Nobody cares, all it says is we're 0-3, it doesn't say 0-3 with an asterisk 'no depth.'  Yeah and that unto itself is a small problem, no depth. The team can't weather the injury bug when it bites, or chomps on the Saints as it has this year. 

Drew Brees will make his return to San Diego this Sunday for the first time since joining the Saints in 2006... it's hard to believe it's been since 2005 when he last played a game at the home of the Chargers in Qualcomm stadium.  In fact, he's only stepped foot in that stadium one other time since coming to New Orleans. "I helped Reggie (Bush) in his football camp there I believe in 2007, but haven't played a game there."  

Brees admitted that he'll have some extra juice to him this week preparing for the team that told him he wasn't their guy anymore following a shoulder injury at the end of the 2005 season.  "I'm trying to visualize what it's going to be like walking into that stadium for the first time in a long time and try to get those feelings and emotions out right now so once the game starts I'm locked in and ready to go," Brees said.  In two previous games against the Chargers, Brees and the Saints enjoyed victories in 2008 (London) and 2012 in the Dome. 
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Kristian: Saints sign OL Khalif Barnes, are a tick healthier overall

The Saints need a W headed into the bye.  As painful as it has been to watch the Saints get out of the gate with an 0-3 record, it would be even worse having to sit on a loss for two weeks during the bye following the game against San Diego. 1-3 during the bye week would provide a flicker of hope for the remaining 12 games that would await.  0-4 would be downright dreadful for the team and the fan base, with games after the off week against Carolina, Kansas City, Denver, and Seattle - just to name a few!

Offensive lineman Khalif Barnes has been added to the Saints roster, agreeing to terms on a one year deal first reported by NFL Network. To make room for Barnes on the roster the Saints placed LB Obum Gwachem on Injured Reserve.  Barnes has been in on visits on two different occasions and even on the roster toward the end of the preseason, and is finally healthy enough to sign with the team.  

The Black and Gold are a tick healthier this week with WR Willie Snead returning to practice, along with S Kenny Vaccaro.  LT Terron Armstead was not at practice today.  Snead missed Monday night's game against the Falcons with a toe injury.  Vaccaro also sat out in week 3 with an ankle injury, and told me today that he could have played this week with some injections and heavy tape, but the team felt it was best to sit him down to make sure the injury doesn't linger throughout the season. G Senio Kalemete also missed practice; he suffered a right leg injury in the loss to the Falcons and did not return in the second half. CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) also did not practice.

The entire Saints injury report is below.

Did Not Practice
G Senio Kelemete (Hamstring)
CB Delvin Breaux (Fibula)
TE Josh Hill (Ankle)
T Terron Armstead (Knee)

Limited Practice
LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad)
DT Tyeler Davison (Shoulder/Foot)
S Kenny Vaccaro (Ankle)
WR Willie Snead IV (Toe)
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Kristian: Life comes full circle on Payton's Saints

Blood is in the water in South Louisiana, with LSU coach Les Miles being fired this week. Fans are bloodthirsty and I get it. I think it’s warranted, considering what has transpired with the Saints and their 0-3 start.  One week it's the defense, one week it’s the offense and one week it’s the special teams.  Well in fact the special teams has played a role in all three losses, but more on that later. 

Injuries are a factor, and sure the team won't make excuses as to why they’ve gotten off to a 0-3 start, but this is just a direct result of drafting poorly and spending money in free agency that hasn’t worked out to your favor.  The Saints are in this position because they’ve put themselves in it with bad personnel decisions followed by more bad decisions. When it comes to personnel mistakes, just take the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert's take on it: “Sean Payton is like Les Miles when it comes to talent evalutation.  Les Miles was clueless in X’s and O’s, and Sean Payton is equally clueless.”  Pretty strong words from the Cannon.  When a coach thinks he knows better than the scouts and talent evaluators, there is a problem. 

I wonder how long it will be before we see the bags come out?  I thought we would never see the bags again, but I’m wondering how long until we see them revived from the past.  The bags came out when the Saints were a wretched franchise incapable of wining because they invent ways to lose.  Wait, am I describing the 2016 team?  I might be. The Saints have lost games from special teams miscues, defensive meltdowns and offensive mishaps this season.  The team would say they don’t know how to win.  That’s alarming. How do you not know how to win? Because you’re young and lack talent.  Who is to blame? The head coach and general manager, that’s who!
 
I’m being to wonder if the Saints are going to reach Ditka depths. No I’m not talking about trading an entire draft for one player, but it’s looking like a more sound strategy give the teams recent draft struggles. The Saints are 4-11 in their last 15 home games… that didn’t happen even during the dubious Ditka era.  While the Saints have enjoyed great success under the Sean Payton era, it’s kind of clouded based on the recent failures.   Gone is the Dome Field Advantage that used to carry the team to wins despite being outplayed by the opponent.  Gone are the days where the Saints could win in spite of mistakes, because they were the more talented team. The Saints have no margin for error,  in large part because the front office has whiffed on talent in the past half decade. 

Finally, I think the Saints are closer to the Cleveland Browns than the New England Patriots.  That’s a far cry from where we once thought this franchise to be a few short years ago.  The Saints used to be that team on the cusp of a playoff or Super Bowl berth, today they’re on the cusp of a toilet bowl berth.  Already fans are asking, who’s the top pick in the draft instead of who’s the top team in the NFC.  Home field advantage and the prospect thereof, is hyperbole at this point, instead we’re starting to wonder if the Saints will be in contention for the top pick in the draft.  My point? Cleveland, you have company in New Orleans.  We share your misery!  

I was asked today by a fan, what will it take for the Saints to fire Sean Payton.  Prior to today I would have said an act of God. Divine intervention. Following today’s 45-32 loss to the Falcons I’m not so sure it would take that.  Another couple of losses I think it’s more real than we might want to believe.  Life has come full circle on Sean Payton and the Saints.  Yesterday is just that, a long foggy memory of what was, and what could have been; and a long harsh reality of what is to come.  Buckle up Saints fans, I think it’s safe to say it’s going to get uglier before it gets prettier.  Bring back the bags? Maybe, start the second guessing? Absolutely! Game on!!​
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Brees: Despite 0-3 start, Saints are an "ascendant" team

You might read the headline and roll your eyes, but in Drew Brees’ eye, the Saints are just that - an ascending team, a team that is still learning how to win. “That’s fair, obviously things have happened this week that will prevent you from winning. Special teams need to be asset for us. Offensively we need to be efficient as we can be.  We had a lot of great individual performances tonight.  We all need to work together,” an undeterred Brees said after the Saints fell to 0-3 after a 45-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.

Brees realizes the Saints have plenty of work to do to climb out of an 0-3 hole “There is no doubt we can get better in a lot of areas. I was surprised when you look at the critical areas, third downs, red zone efficiency and those are the things the Falcons are very very good at. We won in those areas today. We didn’t win in the take away/giveaway ratio today. We had a chance.” The unfortunate part about the Saints for the first three games is they’ve had a chance in three game and haven’t been able to cash in on wins.  That’s the troubling part. 

This week the Saints will make the trek to the west coast to take on the San Diego Chargers.  Because of scheduling quirks, Drew Brees has never made a return trip to Qualcomm stadium in San Diego following his last game in that venue in 2005.  Brees walked off that field in the final game of the season that year with a torn shoulder injury that ultimately landed him in New Orleans in the 2006 off-season.  Brees has never played a game in San Diego against the Chargers since that fateful day. “I know we’re playing against a really good team with a really good QB. As for the emotions of walking into Qualcomm, it’s been a long time obviously. I’m sure there will be a little bit of emotion and I will try to get that out of the way this week. When I get there this week it’s all about the game and locking in.”  Brees has played the Chargers twice in his career, one in London, and one in New Orleans, and both were victories for the Saints. ​

To hear the full audio of Brees' comments, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Brees on "Monday Morning Quarterback"

Photo via USA TODAY
 
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Kristian:Saints face Falcons without Armstead, Snead, Jordan, Vaccaro?

The Saints will attempt to win their first game of the season without left tackle Terron Armstead (knee).

He's been ruled out for Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, along with CB Delvin Breaux (fibula).  We already knew Breaux was out several weeks.

Breaux said he sustained his broken fibula on a special teams play against the Oakland Raiders in week one. 

WR Willie Snead (toe) practiced today and will be a game time decision Monday night.

Snead said, "We'll see how it feels Monday" following practice today.  Snead has been the Saints most consistent playmaker in the first two weeks of the season.  Snead is officially listed as questionable for the game. 

The following players are also listed as questionable: DE Cameron Jordan (Knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad), TE Josh Hill (ankle), DT Tyeler Davison (Shoulder/foot) and Safety Kenny Vaccaro.
 
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Kristian: Six Saints still hurt ahead of Falcons game

The Black and Gold remain black and blue as they get ready to face the Dirty Birds on Monday Night Football.

The Saints second injury report of the week is just as bad as the first one we saw yesterday. CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) TE Josh Hill (ankle) T Terron Armstead (knee) DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder/foot) WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) all missed practice again today.  

Armstead missing practice again is alarming, but the thought of the Saints going into this game with Tony Hills at left tackle isn't as frightening as you would expect.  Hills came on in relief at left tackle last season against the Atlanta Falcons and played well for the injured Armstead.  He had very little time in the offense, having signed just four days prior to that game.  

Hills remembers that game well last season. "I was just playing the game based on old terminology that I learned in another system.  Occasionally I would have to check with my team mates as to what my assignments were."  

Fortunately for the Saints, Atlanta isn't one of the better pass rushing teams in the league. The offense should be able to manage without Armstead. 

WR Willie Snead has been the team’s most consistent threat in the passing game through the first two weeks of the season. If he can't go, I could see a larger role for rookie Michael Thomas.  This also might be the week you see Coby Fleener establish himself in the offense after two below average weeks to start the season.  

The Saints are back on the practice field tomorrow for the final day before facing Atlanta on Monday night in the Superdome at 7:30

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Kristian: Injuries mount for Saints ahead of Monday night against Atlanta

The first injury report of the week is a little eye popping for the New Orleans Saints.  

The list includes several key players.

CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad) TE Josh Hill (ankle) T Terron Armstead (knee) DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder/foot) WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) all missed practice today.  

Armstead’s injury is unnerving, because in the first two weeks of the season he was limited with a quad injury, but now shows up with a knee injury.  The Saints signed Tackle Tony Hills yesterday, and he could be the next man up at left tackle if Armstead can't play Monday night against Atlanta.  

Now, I know it seems like a lot of injuries, but at the same time it's typical to see injuries mount as the season goes on.  If a player seeks treatment for an injury, the team has to list them on the report.  Often players with minor injuries sit out the first day of practice for the week with an extra added benefit of rest in their favor.  

DE Cameron Jordan (knee) was limited in today's work out. 

Falcons week is always special, around Saints camp.  Players describe the rivalry with some intensity and some might even say a college type of feel.  

"It's been very much down to business this week," said Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.  

The Saints have owned the Atlanta Falcons since Brees and coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans. They’ve compiled a 15-5 record against the Falcons in that span.  Often players find themselves taking in a little extra film study or practice reps ahead of the match up with Atlanta.  

This week is no different for the Saints, not to mention the team understands what is on the line here.  Aside from the 10 year anniversary of the Superdome reopening, it's much more than that when it comes to the bottom line for the Saints in 2016.  Win, or the team will fall to oh and three with a very bleak outlook on the rest of the season. 

The Saints have significantly tough games waiting in October and November against teams like Carolina, Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver.  Get the point?  

Sean Payton quickly dismissed the 10 year anniversary moment as a potential catalyst to win in this game Monday night.  Payton says the team has to try and put the hoopla surrounding the anniversary behind them. 

"I see it being a physical game, Monday Night Football, a division opponent. I don't think that (emotional night) will come into play as much."  

While I feel what Sean Payton is saying.  The energy will be there from the fans, but just like 10 years ago, that night won't be special unless the team wins. 

I'm trying to wrap my head around the Saints starting oh and two for the third straight season.  I've questioned just how confident the team can remain after losing two games by a combined four points.  

Saints quarterback Drew Brees thinks the team is close because to putting it all together. 

"We're about to break the seal, and when we do we can catch fire and really get momentum and confidence and start stacking wins," Brees said.  
In fact Brees went a step further about not losing confidence. 

"I know how good we can be.  I know that you can catch fire and catch fire quick.  We'd like for that to happen this week." 

 While I agree a team can get hot quickly, I just wonder if it will be fire the Saints will catch or smoldering ashes of what was once a white hot inferno. 
 
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Saints DB PJ Williams out for the season after concussion

The Saints have placed DB PJ Williams on injured reserve, ending his season. Williams sustained a concussion in last weeks road loss to the Giants.

The Saints starting corners in August were Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, PJ Williams, and Damian Swann. In week 3, it's Sterling Moore, Ken Crawley, De'Vante Harris and B.W. Webb. 

The Saints signed OT Tony Hills as the corresponding roster move to Williams going on IR.  Hills was with the team in training camp and the preseason but was let go in the final round of cuts on September 3rd.  Right Tackle Zach Strief left last weeks game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury and did not return. 

Photo via USA TODAY
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Payton preaches more balance on Saints offense

When you’re 0 and 2 the laundry list of things to fix could be pages long.  In the Saints case, offensively, the fix is simple. On the WWL Saints Coaches Show Monday night, Payton called for balance on offense.

“With a lead, your rushing numbers go up.  I felt coming off the field looking at the numbers, third down has an impact on the plays you run.  Thirteen attempts rushing is not how we want to play.”  In the 16-13 loss to the Giants, the Saints rushed the ball just 13 times.  Another area Payton wants improvement is on their downs. “We had our opportunities offensively, and we weren’t very good on third down.  To get three turnovers and not come away with points is disappointing.” Three turnovers and two sacks usually results in wins, but not for the Saints of 2016 - at least not yet anyway. 

Payton again heaped praise on rookie kicker Will Lutz. “We think this guy is gonna be special... we had to give him a clean snap and hold, along with protection.”  Lutz had a FG blocked and returned for a touchdown in the loss to the Giants.  The protection in the B gap was the breakdown, not a low kick from Lutz. At least that's how the the Saints see it.

Now the Saints are looking up at the rest of division as the only team in the NFC South without a win.  No time for self pity with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town Monday night. “Atlanta’s offense had a big day against Oakland.  Anytime these two teams play, it always comes down to the final drive. I’m sure this will be a game like that,” Payton explained.  The Saints swept Atlanta last year, but are desperate for a win to avoid falling to 0 and 3.  Right now the Saints have just a 12 percent chance at making the playoffs. ​

Listen to the Saints Coaches Show every Monday at 6:30pm. To hear Payton's comments in full, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Payton on the Saints Coaches Show
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