The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - New Orleans Saints - INSIDE SLANT
It's unusual for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to miss a practice because of injury -- even in the early stages of training camp when he could take things easy -- let alone two practices.
But that's what happened Monday when Brees missed the team's afternoon workout, its first since the annual Black and Gold scrimmage on Saturday and the only one on the day's schedule.
The 35-year-old Brees was held out of Saturday's scrimmage with what coach Sean Payton said was a strained left oblique muscle.
After Monday afternoon's practice, Payton would not put a timeline on Brees' return and noted the team would be cautious with the triggerman of his offense -- which wasn't surprising considering there's still more than a month to go before the regular-season opener at Atlanta.
Brees apparently was injured Friday, either during practice or a weightlifting session, and was a surprise no-go in the scrimmage. The ailment came to light just days after Brees, who hasn't missed a game nor many practices because of injury since signing with the Saints in 2006, said he could play until he's 45.
Payton said the injury was being treated as a "day to day" thing although Brees felt good enough to jog over to a group of autograph-seekers after Monday's practice at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.
"We will make sure it's something that won't be aggravated again," Payton told reporters after practice.
Veteran journeyman Luke McCown and second-year pro Ryan Griffin, who are locked in a battle for the backup quarterback job, are splitting repetitions during Brees' absence.
Brees headed up a growing injury list for the Saints although cornerback Champ Bailey was working on a stationary bike in his first sighting since apparently having his ankle rolled up on Thursday morning.
Payton, who rarely talks about injuries in training camp, hasn't talked specifically about Bailey's ailment.
NFL Team Report - New Orleans Saints - NOTES, QUOTES
--Saints coach Sean Payton on Wednesday said he hadn't made a decision on whether to play quarterback Drew Brees in Friday night's exhibition opener with the St. Louis Rams.
Still, it's unlikely that Brees, who has a strained left oblique muscle that has kept him on the sidelines for last Saturday's scrimmage and three subsequent practices, will suit up against the Rams.
When Brees didn't practice Monday after a day off, Payton said the team would be cautious with the 14-year veteran. Brees also did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday, which will make Payton's decision easier.
"We just haven't come out and said which way or another. ... We are monitoring it day-by-day," Payton said Wednesday when asked why he hadn't made a decision one way or the other. "He is feeling a lot better. We will see.
"Probably by tomorrow we will know. I don't want to say one thing and then all of a sudden it be the other. I know he is feeling better."
--Payton and Gregg Williams, the Saints' defensive coordinator when they won Super Bowl XLIV after the 2009 season, will coach against each other Friday night for the first time since parting ways in January 2012.
Williams, who was the central figure in a bounty scandal that resulted in Payton being suspended for the entire 2012 season and Williams drawing an indefinite suspension that turned out to be one season, is the Rams' defensive coordinator after returning to the league last season with the Tennessee Titans.
On Tuesday, Payton would not say how he will handle a potential meeting with Williams although he said when he was reinstated in January 2013 that he had "no interest" in talking with his former defensive coordinator.
"That's not even, in my opinion, a big deal at all," Payton said Tuesday. "It's not a big deal. Our jobs are to make sure we get our guys ready for this first preseason game."
--The Saints made several roster moves after the players returned from a day off following their annual Black and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday.
The team waived/injured wide receiver Steve Hull and cut nose tackle Tyrone Ezell and linebacker Marcus Thompson. Hull was put on injured reserve after he cleared waivers Wednesday.
To take their spots on the 90-man roster, the Saints signed longtime Jacksonville Jaguars fullback Greg Jones, an 11-year NFL veteran, as well as wide receiver Tobais Palmer and tight end Richard Quinn.
The signing of Jones was necessitated when fullback Erik Lorig apparently suffered a leg injury in Saturday's scrimmage.
--Just 1 1/2 weeks after the start of training camp, the Saints are hurting as they prepare for Friday night's preseason opener with the St. Louis Rams.
In addition to quarterback Drew Brees missing his second consecutive practice with a strained left oblique muscle, the injury list grew when the team returned to the practice field Monday following Saturday's Black and Gold scrimmage.
Meanwhile, cornerback Champ Bailey, who hasn't practiced since having his ankle rolled up on during Thursday morning's practice, was seen riding a stationary bike.
At least 10 other players were held out of Monday's practice. That group was headed up by Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs, who missed some of the team's off-season work and parts of the early portion of training camp with an undisclosed injury.
As if that wasn't enough, inside linebacker Khairi Fortt and cornerback Derrius Brooks appeared to get banged up during Monday's practice.
--With Grubbs ailing, the Saints are having problems on the offensive line.
While coach Sean Payton said recently that Grubbs' injury was minor, he missed a sixth straight day of practice Monday.
As that continued to play itself out, there were indications that a battle for the starting center job between second-year pro Tim Lelito and veteran Jonathan Goodwin is still up for grabs.
The Saints plugged guard Senio Kelemete, a fifth-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 and a member of New Orleans' practice squad last season, in at center Monday and gave him reps with the starting offense.
"He's had a ton of reps, and I would say he's been pretty impressive," Payton said of Kelemete, who has worked with the first team at left guard in place of Grubbs. "He knows what to do, and I think he's handled it pretty well."
--Brees made sure some of his teammates got to see their families after a week and a half of training camp, renting a plane to get them home following Saturday's scrimmage in West Virginia.
The Saints traditionally have a scheduled day off after their Black and Gold scrimmage and several players -- among them tight end Benjamin Watson -- got to take advantage of it thanks to Brees' largesse.
"Drew Brees, great guy he is, volunteered to bring a few of us back home," Watson said. "We were able to get on the flight and head back (to New Orleans) just for the 24 hours. It was really good to see the family."
Watson has four children and Brees has three sons. Brees' wife, Brittany, is pregnant with their fourth child -- a girl.
--Saints owner Tom Benson was taken last week to an emergency room in West Virginia to be treated for dehydration, team spokesman Greg Bensel said.
Bensel said Benson was given fluids and was fine after being stricken on Tuesday, the fifth day of training camp. Bensel said the 87-year-old Benson, who was back at practice Thursday, had problems with the altitude at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
It was the second time Benson went to the ER in a little more than two months.
At a league meeting in Atlanta in May, Benson fell and hit his head during a vote in which he was trying to bring the Super Bowl back to New Orleans. He was checked for a possible concussion and was cleared after spending the night in the hospital as a precaution.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Shayne Graham vs. Derek Dimke for kicking job. Graham, who was signed late last season, could be in a fight for a roster spot after 14 NFL seasons. He missed a pair of field goals in the team's divisional playoff loss at Seattle, albeit in harsh conditions, and has been inconsistent in training camp so far. He missed a field goal for a second consecutive day in the Saturday's scrimmage, while Dimke, who made a favorable impression during a tryout last fall when former kicker Garrett Hartley struggled, made all six of his field-goal attempts over the two-day period.
NFL Team Report - New Orleans Saints - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Drew Brees did not take part in Saturday's Black & Gold scrimmage or in Monday's practice because of a strained left oblique muscle.
--CB Champ Bailey had his ankle rolled up on Thursday and was held out of practice since although he was back Monday riding a stationary back.
--LG Ben Grubbs missed his sixth consecutive practice Monday with an undisclosed ailment and it's not known when he'll return.
--NT John Jenkins remains on the physically unable to perform list after apparently having off-season surgery on a torn pectoral muscle.
--WR Kenny Stills is still sidelined with a quadriceps injury that he suffered on the first day of training camp on July 25.
--OLB Victor Butler was held out of practice Monday although it's possible it was just a maintenance day after he missed last season with an ACL injury.
--FB Erik Lorig didn't practice Monday because of an unknown injury and it's not known when he'll be back.
--DE Glenn Foster was held out of Monday's practice with an undisclosed injury.
--CB Terrence Frederick sat out the lone practice Monday with an unknown injury.
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