Tagged in: New Orleans

Tyrann Mathieu reports to New Orleans Saints after missing start of training camp

New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu reported for training camp and was practicing Wednesday after initially being excused to attend to what the team described as a personal matter.

Mathieu made his first appearance of training camp Wednesday morning after missing the first six practices of camp and getting to the team hotel Tuesday night. Saints coach Dennis Allen stated they were able to talk at the hotel and that Mathieu appeared to be in “good spirits.”

The 30-year-old Mathieu did not participate in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills but went through the team walk-through and did individual drills with the defensive backs.

“He’s anxious to kind of get back here and get started,” Allen said. “We’ll go through a little bit of a ramp-up period with him, kind of let him get his feet up under him, but man, to have a player of his decorated ability back in the building is a positive.”

On Thursday, Mathieu spoke to the media for the first time since his return to the team on Wednesday, praising the support he has received from his coaches and teammates and saying he’ll go through a ramp-up conditioning period as he gets back into football shape.

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“Everyone was really supportive, teammates, former teammates,” Mathieu said. “Lot of different people just being supportive. Obviously that was a great feeling, to have that support. … I’m sure at some point I’ll be more transparent about the first six days of practice, but more important I’m just happy to be back and around the guys. I’m feeling good, I’m in great spirits, really healthy. Everything that’s important, it’s going good. I’m just in a good place and just all about ramping it up and getting back into it.”

The offseason addition of Mathieu to the Saints’ secondary was met with much fanfare in New Orleans, where Mathieu grew up and played in high school before starring in college at LSU.

The nine-year NFL veteran agreed to a three-year, $33 million free agent contract with the Saints in early May.

Mathieu was raised by his grandparents in New Orleans then became a star football player and track athlete for St. Augustine High School. He maintained deep ties to the city, enhanced through his charitable endeavors and football camps in the area.

He also has deep ties to LSU, where his tenacious play over two seasons earned him the nickname “Honey Badger.” As a sophomore in 2011, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and obtained the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. But his college career was cut short when then-Tigers coach Les Miles dismissed Mathieu in the summer of 2012 for repeated drug test failures.

Mathieu spent time in a Houston rehabilitation program, but it wasn’t until he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round in 2013 that he put his life together.

Mathieu became a dependable defensive standout for coach Bruce Arians and has since added two All-Pro nods with Kansas City to go with one earned in Arizona. He also has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons. He wound up playing five seasons for the Cardinals before a year with the Houston Texans.

He signed with Kansas City as a free agent for $42 million over three years and immediately became the quarterback of the Chiefs’ defense, often relaying signals and directing the pre-snap alignment of defensive teammates.

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New Orleans Saints QB Andy Dalton and RB Mark Ingram agree to deal on jersey number

New Orleans Saints veterans Mark Ingram II and Andy Dalton have completed a jersey swap that can only be described as a win-win.

Dalton, who signed with the Saints this offseason, will get the No. 14 that he has worn throughout his career as a quarterback with TCU, the Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.

Ingram, meanwhile, gets to wear a more slimming No. 5 jersey.

Last season, Ingram hilariously tried to describe his angst over the unappealing jersey number options he had when he returned to New Orleans in a midseason trade.

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Not only was his former No. 22 not an option, but nothing in the 20s or single digits was available either. So Ingram very reluctantly decided to go with 14 “because it seemed the best of the worst.”

Ingram stated he didn’t like numbers in the 30s because “it’s too big of a number for me.”

“I don’t want no 30s,” Ingram said. “It’s just too wide. I’m short, stocky. I gotta have a number that fits me a little bit.”

The 40s were even worse, in Ingram’s sartorial opinion. Ingram said he contemplated asking kicker Wil Lutz if he could wear his No. 3 while Lutz was on injured reserve last year.

He even considered reaching out to former Saints quarterback Archie Manning about wearing No. 8 in his honor (both Manning’s 8 and Drew Brees’ 9 aren’t officially retired, but they never get assigned to new players).

Coincidentally, the No. 5 that Ingram has now landed in is the same one that former Saints running back Reggie Bush was unable to acquire as a rookie in 2006 before the NFL permitted running backs to wear single digits.

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New Orleans Pelicans draft pick E.J. Liddell suffers torn ACL in right knee, out indefinitely

New Orleans Pelicans second-round pick E.J. Liddell suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during Monday’s summer league contest and will be out indefinitely.

Liddell went down in the third quarter of the game against the Atlanta Hawks when his right knee buckled underneath him. In two games in Las Vegas, Liddell averaged 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds.

The Pelicans feared the worst as soon as the injury happened on Monday as he was carried off the court by teammates.

An MRI on Monday night in Las Vegas confirmed the injury.

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Liddell, who spent three years at Ohio State, had a first-round grade for the 2022 NBA draft from many draft experts including ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who had him as the No. 21 overall prospect. However, Liddell slid to the Pelicans at No. 41 overall.

Liddell was a third-team All-American during the 2021-22 college season while also being named to the All-Big Ten first team and All-Big Ten defensive team first team. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks per game in 32 games for Ohio State last year.

New Orleans has 15 guaranteed contracts on its roster after 14 carried over from 2021-22 and the team selected Dyson Daniels with the No. 8 pick in the draft.

The Pelicans could free up a space for a contract for Liddell or slot him into one of their two-way spots.

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Seattle Seahawks to face Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Munich on Nov. 13

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL’s first regular-season game in Germany.

The league revealed Wednesday the teams will play at 9:30 a.m. ET on Nov. 13 at Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich.

The NFL also announced the three 9:30 a.m. ET games that will be played in London next season. The New Orleans Saints will face the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 2 and the Green Bay Packers will play the New York Giants on Oct. 9 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Denver Broncos on Oct. 30 at Wembley Stadium.

In addition, the league stated the Arizona Cardinals will play the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 21 in a Monday Night Football game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City; it will be the fourth NFL game played at that stadium. (The Oakland Raiders beat the Houston Texans 27-20 in 2016, the New England Patriots beat the Raiders 33-8 in 2017, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 in 2019.)

The Chiefs were arranged to play the Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City in 2019 but the game was moved to Los Angeles because of poor field conditions.

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Arizona lost its lone international matchup in 2017 33-0 to the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium in London. The 49ers are 2-0 in international games, beating Denver 24-10 in 2010 and Jacksonville 42-10 in 2013 at Wembley Stadium in London.

The Bucs will be seeking their first victory playing outside the United States.

They’re 0-3 in their three games played in London, losing to the Patriots 35-7 in 2009, the Chicago Bears 24-18 in 2011, and the Carolina Panthers 37-26 in 2019.

This will mark the Seahawks’ third international regular-season game in franchise history. They beat the Buffalo Bills in Toronto in 2012 and the Oakland Raiders in London in 2018.

The Seahawks have a German-born player in linebacker Aaron Donkor, who was allocated to Seattle last year as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. Donkor is from Achern, about 200 miles west of Munich, and spent the 2021 season on Seattle’s practice squad. The Seahawks received another roster exemption for Donkor this week.

The NFL revealed in February that it will play four games in Germany over the next four seasons, two apiece in Munich and Frankfurt.

The Packers were the lone team to have never played in an international game. The Giants are 2-0 overseas, beating the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in the NFL’s first international game played in 2007 at Wembley Stadium and beating the Rams 17-10 in 2016 at Twickenham Stadium.

“Our fan base in the U.K. has always been extremely loyal and passionate,” Giants chief commercial officer Pete Guelli said. “The organization has had two memorable games in front of the London fans, and we look forward to engaging with them leading up to the game this fall.”

The Saints are 2-0 in London, defeating the San Diego Chargers 37-32 in 2006 and the Miami Dolphins 20-0 in 2017 at Wembley Stadium. The Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 in 2013 at Wembley Stadium and the Cleveland Browns 33-16 in 2017 at Twickenham Stadium.

This will be the ninth time the Jaguars will have played a game outside the United States, which is more than any other team. The Las Vegas Raiders and Miami have each played five international games.

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New Orleans Saints name Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard as co-defensive coordinators

The New Orleans Saints have promoted assistant coaches Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard into the roles of co-defensive coordinators under new head coach Dennis Allen, the team revealed Wednesday.

Nielsen and Richard will continue to oversee the Saints’ defensive line and secondary units, respectively.

Allen previously served as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator under Sean Payton, while Nielsen was the assistant head coach/defensive line coach and Richard was the secondary coach.

Allen hinted at his introductory news conference that he will likely continue to call plays for the defense, though he hasn’t made that official yet.

The use of co-defensive coordinators is much more common in college than in the NFL. However, the Minnesota Vikings used co-defensive coordinators during their final two seasons under coach Mike Zimmer, and the New England Patriots have split duties on defense without naming anyone as their official coordinator over the past four campaigns.

Other teams have used passing game coordinators and run game coordinators. Richard served as a passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys from 2018 to 2019.

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Most likely, Allen wanted to find a way to promote both of his highly valued assistants to make sure to retain them on his staff.

Nielsen has been with the Saints since 2017, while Richard arrived in 2021.

The Saints ranked fourth in the NFL in points permitted last season and seventh in yards allowed. They have ranked fourth in both categories overall since 2019. And they became the first team to shut out Tom Brady in 15 years with a 9-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past December.

Nielsen and Richard, both 42, were teammates on USC’s defense in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Richard went on to play six NFL seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Nielsen signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but never cracked a NFL roster.

Richard then became one of the architects of the Seahawks’ famed “Legion of Boom” secondary as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator from 2010 to 2017. He has had several head-coaching interviews in recent years and also interviewed for multiple defensive coordinator positions in the NFL this year.

Nielsen, meanwhile, has had multiple opportunities in recent years to become a college defensive coordinator. But the Saints didn’t want to let him go and promoted him to assistant head coach last year while keeping him away from nearby LSU.

The Saints have had the NFL’s No. 1 run defense since Nielsen arrived in 2017.

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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton stepping away after 16 years with franchise

Sean Payton revealed his decision to step away Tuesday, 16 years after he was hired as the New Orleans Saints’ coach, though he stressed multiple times that “retirement is not the right word.”

Payton, 58, said he doesn’t plan to coach another team in 2022, adding, “That’s not where my heart is right now.” And since he has three years left on his contract, the Saints would have to agree to trade compensation if he wanted to coach another team.

However, Payton didn’t rule out a return to coaching in the future. And he said he is interested in pursuing a TV analyst job, though he insisted that neither he nor his agent Don Yee have talked with any media outlets yet.

“I don’t know what’s next — and it kind of feels good,” Payton said during an emotional 90-minute news conference at the team’s practice facility. “But, man, I felt like it was time. … But not with any regret. There’s some excitement, like, ‘All right, what’s next?'”

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Payton explained that he had been considering this departure all the way back to training camp before confirming how he felt over the past two weeks. He said owner Gayle Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and team president Dennis Lauscha all tried to talk him out of it. And he thanked Benson for encouraging him to go on vacation for the past two weeks before making a final decision.

The Saints are now the ninth NFL team with a head coaching vacancy.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. are two obvious candidates for a possible promotion, considering the Saints just posted their fifth consecutive winning season and aren’t necessarily looking for an overhaul.

Payton mentioned Allen by name while explaining that he and the Saints never discussed any sort of arrangement where he might possibly come back after a one-year hiatus.

Payton admitted that he searched the internet Monday night for tips on how to avoid crying during a news conference.

He started by singling out Benson, Loomis and Lauscha individually, calling Loomis “one of my best friends.” And he presented Benson with a piece of king cake — a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras dessert — saying it was his version of TV character Ted Lasso’s biscuit tradition.

Payton made his mark as the winningest coach in Saints history and one of the NFL’s all-time great offensive minds. The Saints signed Brees two months after Payton was hired in 2006, and they led New Orleans to the first Super Bowl triumph in franchise history in 2009.

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Cavaliers trade for Lakers guard Rajon Rondo after Ricky Rubio’s ACL injury

With Ricky Rubio now out for the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are apparently turning to Rajon Rondo for help.

The Cavaliers got the Los Angeles Lakers guard in a trade on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Guard Denzel Valentine will head to the Lakers as part of the deal.

The Lakers are expected to waive Valentine’s partially guaranteed deal to open a roster spot, per Wojnarowski.

Rubio, late in the Cavaliers’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, collapsed to the court after his left knee buckled trying to drive through the lane. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room, and an MRI the next day revealed that he had torn his left ACL.

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Rubio was just one assist shy of a triple-double versus the Pelicans.

The 31-year-old averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 assists per game this season, his first with the Cavaliers after spending last season back with the Timberwolves — who first drafted him out of Spain with the No. 5 overall pick in 2009.

Rondo has averaged 3.1 points and 3.7 assists in 18 games with the Lakers this season. The jump to Cleveland will mark the ninth team Rondo has played for since the 2014-15 season, when he was with the Boston Celtics. Rondo is presently on a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Lakers.

The 35-year-old hasn’t played for the Lakers since before Christmas and is currently in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. He’ll need to clear protocols before he can join the Cavaliers. 

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Seattle Seahawks sign veteran Adrian Peterson to practice squad

The Seahawks are taking a look at Adrian Peterson to see what the veteran running back might have left in his Hall of Fame career.

Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday that the Seahawks signed the 36-year-old Peterson to their practice squad as a potential reinforcement for their banged-up backfield.

“Excited to see if he can help us out and give us a little something,” Carroll stated. “He’s a player that I’ve known forever — way back to his high-school days — and admired him tremendously over the years. Always disappointed we didn’t get him back in the day, but like I just told him, we finally got him.

So I’m looking forward to seeing how he does and where he can fit in. He’s an incredible competitor and a great guy, so I’m anxious to give him a chance to get on the field with our boys.”

Peterson was waived last week by the Tennessee Titans, who signed him after losing star Derrick Henry to a broken foot. He carried 27 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in three matches.

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Carroll held off on any comments about what Peterson may add to Seattle’s backfield, saying he needs to see him practice first.

The Seahawks (3-8) are in what Carroll described as “recovery mode” in practice these next few days as they prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, having lost to the Washington Football Team on Monday night before making the cross-country trip back home.

“I’ve got to wait and see how he does out here,” Carroll said. “I’ve watched the film and seen him play. He plays just as tough and aggressive as he ever has, so I’m anxious to see what he adds to the club. He’s fired up about it, too.”

Peterson ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,902 career rushing yards. He spent his first 10 campaigns with Minnesota and then had stints with Arizona, New Orleans, Washington and Detroit before his most recent one in Tennessee.

The Seahawks rank 25th in the league with 92.5 rushing yards per game. They’ve been without their preferred No. 1 running back, Chris Carson, since Week 5 because of a neck injury that required season-ending surgery. Alex Collins has started in his absence and has only topped 50 yards rushing once in that seven-game span.

Collins and DeeJay Dallas combined for 18 rushing yards on 10 carries against Washington as Rashaad Penny (hamstring) and Travis Homer (calf) were inactive due to injuries. Undrafted rookie Josh Johnson was elevated from the practice squad for that game but only played on special teams.

Carroll didn’t know whether Penny or Homer will be available Sunday versus the 49ers, though he said the word from trainers is that Penny will practice.

The Seahawks’ loss to Washington all but eliminated their opportunities of making the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Carroll was asked about the thinking behind adding Peterson versus giving a look to a younger back like Johnson.

“We’re trying to get ready to win this football game,” Carroll said. “So I’m going to see if Adrian has got something to offer us. Just in his presence and his toughness, he brings something. So let’s see what happens. We’re just trying to get the right mix. Rashaad’s been in and out. We’ve been concerned about him getting back and staying back. Homer has been banged up and we’re not sure about him this week either. So it just looks like there’s some opportunities.

“So we’ll see how it goes and see how the guys respond. I’m as excited as probably you guys are just to see what he looks like playing in our uniform and doing something for us, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Seahawks made two other additions to their practice squad Wednesday with receiver Cade Johnson and free safety Elijah Benton. Johnson was previously on Seattle’s practice squad.

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New Orleans Saints again to be without RB Alvin Kamara vs. Buffalo Bills

Running back Alvin Kamara has been ruled out for the third consecutive week with his knee injury as the New Orleans Saints prepare to host the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving night.

Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (knee) and defensive ends Marcus Davenport (shoulder) and Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) were also ruled out for Thursday’s game.

Running back Mark Ingram II (knee) and left tackle Terron Armstead (knee/shoulder) are listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday.

If Ingram is out or limited, the Saints will obviously be short-handed at running back. Second-year pro Tony Jones Jr., RB/WR Ty Montgomery and backup quarterback Taysom Hill would likely be among those who fill the void.

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Kamara is not expected to be sidelined long term, and he was not placed on injured reserve after he first started experiencing knee soreness during the Saints’ Week 9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Saints will play another Thursday night match at home versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13 before having three extra days between games in Week 14.

Kamara has obviously been missed in a depleted Saints offense that has been short on playmakers in the passing game all season.

He leads the team with 840 yards from scrimmage, 7 touchdowns and 32 receptions this season.

The Saints (5-5) have battled injuries all season — but especially over the past month (including quarterback Jameis Winston’s season-ending ACL tear and receiver Michael Thomas’ season-ending setback with an ankle injury).

The Saints have hit a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2016

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RB Mark Ingram traded by Houston Texans, reuniting him with New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have reunited their dynamic running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram by getting Ingram in a trade with the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal contains a swap of late-round picks, the source said. NFL Network first reported the trade, the second in two months between the Saints and Texans after New Orleans acquired veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in Week 1.

The Saints desperately needed running back depth after releasing veteran Latavius Murray in September and losing backup Tony Jones Jr. to injury. So they turned to one of the most popular and productive backs in franchise history.

Ingram, 31, spent his first eight campaigns in New Orleans after being drafted in the first round in 2011, tallying 6,007 rushing yards, 1,598 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns before the Saints let him leave as a free agent in 2019. Ingram is just 89 rushing yards behind Deuce McAllister for New Orleans’ franchise record.

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At their peak, Ingram and Kamara were one of the best running back duos in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Boom and Zoom,” they became the first duo ever to both surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season in 2017, and the first in more than 40 years to both make the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Murray proved to be an excellent replacement from 2019 to 2020, while Ingram had success with the Baltimore Ravens. But the Saints missed both veterans this year while relying more than ever on Kamara as a one-man show.

Kamara is on pace to break his career high for carries in a season by more than 100, and he reached 30 touches in a game for just the second time in his career in Monday night’s 13-10 victory at Seattle. Kamara was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“Aye @markingramII ….. we back,” Kamara tweeted in response to the reported trade.

Ingram was the Texans’ lead back this season, running for 294 yards and a touchdown on 92 carries on a team that ranks last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

With his trade to New Orleans, the Texans now have four running backs on their roster: veterans David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and second-year pro Scottie Phillips. Phillips has been inactive for all but one game this season, but just played on special teams.

Earlier in the month, the Texans moved on from veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who signed with the Green Bay Packers after he was released by the Texans. Mercilus, a first-round pick in 2012, was one of the longest-tenured Texans players on the roster.

Since Ingram signed in Houston, coach David Culley has spoken about the importance of the running back on the roster because of his leadership role in the locker room.

After the trade was reported Wednesday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks appeared to react to the move on Twitter, writing, “This is bulls—. Such a joke.”

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