Drew Brees and other starters won't play Thursday for the New Orleans Saints
Quarterback Drew Brees will be one of several starters who won't play in the New Orleans Saints' preseason finale at Tennessee on Thursday night, Coach Sean Payton said.
Because New Orleans' regular season opener is Sept. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings at the Superdome, the Saints will back off their starters even more than they usually do in the fourth preseason game.
Payton didn't give a full list, but he mentioned defensive end Will Smith as an example of another healthy veteran who won't play. Tight end Jeremy Shockey also will be held out after apparently suffering a mild concussion during last week's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers in the Superdome. Payton described it as a "ding" but said Shockey will be fine for next week.
Other players who won't even make the trip because of injuries are safety Darren Sharper (knee), linebacker Jonathan Vilma (groin), cornerback Tracy Porter (knee), linebacker Clint Ingram (knee), safety Pierson Prioleau (knee) and offensive tackle Zach Strief (knee). Linebacker Stanley Arnoux (ankle) also appears doubtful.
None of those players have been ruled out for the regular-season opener. Porter should be OK, and Vilma appears questionable, but Sharper appears doubtful.
Sharper said he still hopes to play against the Vikings, even though he admitted he is disappointed that he hasn't returned to the practice field sooner this summer.
He insisted his surgically repaired knee feels good and just needs to get back into football shape. He is hoping to avoid starting the regular season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would require him to be sidelined for at least six weeks. But he knows that decision will be up to the coaches and front office.
"I feel good," Sharper said. "And that's not just me saying that because you guys are asking me right now in front of the cameras. I truly honestly feel good. I'm happy with the healing process. I feel as though it's healed, and now it's just about getting in football shape and getting ready to go."
Sharper, who started wearing a brace on the knee again during the past two weeks, said he didn't suffer any setbacks, and it was "just a different way to kind of help the healing process."
When asked whether he would wear the brace during a game, he said he hopes not.
"And have an X on my back during the game? No sir," Sharper said. "We've already got a bulls-eye on our back as a team, I don't need one on me."
Meanwhile, tight end Jimmy Graham is expected to play against the Titans while recovering from an ankle injury. Newly signed defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy also is expected to play.
QB ROTATION: With Brees on the bench, the backup quarterback battle will take center stage against Tennessee.
Payton said he expects veteran Patrick Ramsey to play the first half, with second-year pro Chase Daniel playing the second half.
The Saints' former No. 4 quarterback, Sean Canfield, won't get to see any game action. He was released Tuesday, along with rookie receiver Andy Tanner as the Saints get down to their mandatory 75 players.
COACH SUSPENSION: Assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones began serving his 30-day suspension Friday, according to Payton, and he is expected back before the third regular-season game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Jones was suspended for his admitted role in a real estate scam involving 40 people in northwestern Texas.
SPEAKING OF FISHER: Payton wouldn't confirm or deny a report by TMZ that the Saints have invited Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher to speak before their season opener against Minnesota.
Fisher would provide a unique perspective, having successfully won back-to-back titles, both in 2009-2010 and 2000, 2001 and 2002. But Payton prefers to keep his guest speakers as a surprise, and he seemed disappointed to hear the report was out there.
GOODELL FAN FORUM: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet with a selected group of 150 Saints fans at the Superdome on Sept. 8 on the eve of the team's nationally televised season opener against the Vikings.
Goodell will answer questions from the fans, who have been invited by the Saints, during a one-hour session that will be aired later that night, at 9 p.m. on the NFL Network. No topics are off limits, and questions are not screened, according to the league.
The one-hour special, called the "NFL Kickoff Fan Forum at the New Orleans Saints," will be Goodell's second televised Fan Forum. The first was held in July in Green Bay.
SATURDAY'S 'BASH': Payton and Brees will be among 30 players and coaches appearing at a Saturday night pep rally at Champions Square outside the Superdome, highlighting the daylong "Believe Again Bash."
The event is free to the public. It's scheduled to run from noon to 10 p.m. and will include live music performances, food, family activities and appearances by the players, coaches, Saintsations, mascots and the Lombardi Trophy.
Some players will be available for autographs and photo opportunities. The pep rally is scheduled to run from 8-8:30 p.m.
BREES ON COVER OF SI: Brees will be featured on one of five regional covers of Sports Illustrated's NFL preview issue, which comes out today.
The last time the Saints made the cover of SI was the Feb. 15 issue, when Brees was holding up his son, Baylen, during the Super Bowl celebration. In the issue, SI's Peter King predicts the Saints will go 12-4 and reach the NFC championship game.
AUCTION FOR GULF COAST: The NFL announced plans for the "back to football 2010 Kickoff Charity Auction" to support the Saints' Gulf Coast Renewal Fund.
The NFL is offering 150 items, including unique experiences and autographed memorabilia. Bidding will take place through Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. at NFL Auction.
And why should they play? Save them for the Viqueens!!
You got it.
the qb battle will keep us focused, i don't believe who plays first will matter any. were so deep on offense its awesome. the vultures will be waiting to see who gets cut.
Anyone else happy that preseason is almost over? I'm tired of these teaser games.
This game tonight is a prime example of why they should change things. When they get so flagrant about keeping the guys out of the line-up...guys that people come to watch play football are grab-a$$ing on the sideline, then if you are commissioner of a league that is still charging the same amount for this game as you would a regular season game...then you have to look at it and say, "This ain't right!"
I for one will be glad when this game is over. I'm tired of these meaningless games. But I will be watching the QB's. I like Chase Dainal better than Ramsey. But of course there will be a lot of guys playing for there football lives. Should be fun to watch.
My thoughts on 4 preseason games.
Game 1: Both offense and defense looked terrible. Back to practice.
Game 2: Better performance. Extended play. That's one game in a row...
Game 3: Offense sharp. Defense improved after opening drive. Not much time to review the backups.
Game 4: Committed to final evaluation of some starters, fringe-starters, backups (#2 QB) and special teams players.
I want to see the NFL go to one less preseason game just as much as anyone. But it's hard to argue that coaches don't need four games to get it all done and ready for the season.
Guess what - unless there's a bye week after preseason, the most important starters (or even mildly injured) will always sit out during the last game. Tweak it any way you want, but coaches will find a way to protect who they want to protect....sorry, fans.
I want to see our backups flying around makin plays...I hope we get to see a good look at Betts..Wynne and Gallett...and Clancy
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