METAIRIE – Even though they’re on pace to give up an NFL-record 7,595 yards — which would be about 800 more than the 1981 Baltimore Colts — don’t expect drastic changes from the Saints’ defense.
It may not be what fans want to hear from a unit that’s allowed 474.7 yards per game and has given up 400 yards in each of its first seven games, but interim coach Joe Vitt said it’s much too late to make sweeping changes as the Saints approach the midway point of the season.
Vitt said there will be new wrinkles here and there, but it’s impossible to implement a scheme and work on it throughout the offseason and training camp and then make a change halfway through the season.
“If you have dramatic changes and you have erratic changes, that’s when panic sets in,” Vitt said Thursday as the Saints began preparing for Monday night’s game with the Philadelphia Eagles. “If you put panic in, the players can smell the house burning before the match is ever lit.
“We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to execute better. That being said, if we think we can do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, that’s the definition of insanity. … But we’re not going to rewrite the playbook.”
STILL A SAINT: The trade deadline came and went Thursday with the Saints not making any deals, which wasn’t totally unexpected.
There was speculation they might try to move running back Chris Ivory because he has not played this season and was a healthy inactive for five of seven games as the fifth halfback on the depth chart.
“There was going to be a decision made if I was going to be here, or if I was going to be somewhere else,” Ivory said when asked if he was surprised to still be with the Saints. “It was out my hands and I’m still here today.”
Vitt said Ivory had a good practice Thursday.
“Chris Ivory is ready, he’s prepared to play,” he said. “He practiced well today, so we’ll see where this leads us. We like Chris Ivory.”
PRACTICE REPORT: The Saints may have to rely on Ivory for the first time this season in the game with the Eagles as running back Darren Sproles did not participate in Thursday’s practice because of a hand injury.
Vitt did not elaborate on Sproles’ specific injury or its severity.
Wide receiver Courtney Roby (shoulder) also did not practice, while linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) and wide receiver Joe Morgan (chest) had full participation after being limited last week.
ROSTER MOVE: The Saints did make one roster move Thursday as they terminated the contract of veteran tight end Daniel Graham and signed wide receiver Greg Camarillo.
Graham injured his knee last week and didn’t play Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. Camarillo has been signed and released three times since initially joining the team in training camp.
RUNNING GAME WOES: According to the latest NFL stats, the Saints, who rank 32nd in the league with just 72.6 yards per game, are being out-rushed by five backs who have played the same number of games.
Houston’s Arian Foster (659 yards), Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (595), Denver’s Willis McGahee (554), Baltimore’s Ray Rice (524) and Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller (523) all have more yards than the Saints’ team total of 508.
SANDY’S AFTERMATH: After going through Hurricane Isaac in late August, Saints backup safety Isa Abdul-Quddus’ family went through a similar situation earlier this week when Hurricane Sandy plowed into the northeast.
Abdul-Quddus grew up about 10 miles from Hoboken, N.J., which experienced severe flooding from the storm surge from Hudson River.
“There wasn’t a lot of rain around my way, but the wind knocked the power out,” Abdul-Quddus said. “My folks still don’t have any, but they’ve gone to stay with family friends that have.”
Advocate sportswriter Ted Lewis contributed
to this report.