There were no surprises Friday when Saints coach Sean Payton issued his final injury report for Saturday night’s NFC wild-card playoff game with the Detroit Lions in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
As expected, wide receiver Lance Moore (hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee) and tight end John Gilmore (toe) were ruled out of the game after each were sidelined for all of the team’s three big practices this week.
After Moore injured his hamstring in a Dec. 26 game with the Atlanta Falcons, Payton characterized the injury as “significant.” His loss leaves quarterback Drew Brees with one less weapon, although second-year pro Adrian Arrington was added to the mix last week along with Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.
The absence of Casillas, who reinjured his knee in the regular-season finale, could be a problem for the Saints as they’ll have just six healthy linebackers with two of them — Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey — being rookies.
Meachem (knee), middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), free safety Malcolm Jenkins (neck) and safety Jonathon Amaya (shoulder) are probable.
LIONS’ HARRIS DOUBTFUL: Backup safety Chris Harris, a former University of Louisiana at Monroe standout, is doubtful for the Lions after missing the last two practices with a back injury.
The Lions have 10 players listed as probable for the game.
The list includes six starters — All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson (Achilles’), free safety Louis Delmas (knee), cornerback Chris Houston (hand/knee), defensive end Cliff Avril (back), running back Kevin Smith (ankle/knee) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (hip).
THE WILD CARD: Over the years, the Saints haven’t been so wild about the wild-card round.
Even though they’re 5-7 all-time in the postseason, the Saints are just 1-5 in first-round games. Four of the losses came under Jim Mora (1987 and 1990-92) and the other came a year ago when Payton’s team dropped a 41-36 decision to the Seattle Seahawks.
Their only wild-card win came under coach Jim Haslett in 2000, a 31-28 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the Superdome.
EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Thirty-seven of the 53 players on the Saints’ active roster that will go against the Lions on Saturday night has NFL postseason experience.
A total of 31 players on the roster have been to the playoffs with the Saints, including seven who have been around for the six postseason games that Payton has coached since he was hired in 2006.
That group includes Brees, Colston, Henderson, guard Jahri Evans, tackle Zach Strief, linebacker Scott Shanle, and defensive end Will Smith.
PRIMETIME PLAYERS: The Saints are 3-0 in night playoff games under Payton.
They beat the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC Divisional Playoff game in 2006 (27-24), Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship game (31-28 in overtime) and Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV (31-17).
LAGNIAPPE: Counting the playoffs, Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games. The last time he didn’t was on Oct. 4, 2009 against the New York Jets and he has 114 TDs in that stretch. … LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland will provide pregame and halftime entertainment for Saturday night’s game. … NBC’s top announcing team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will call the game with Michelle Tafoya serving as sideline reporter.