Saints WR Lance Moore inactive for game with Dolphins

Saints wide receiver Lance Moore, who suffered a hand injury in last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, is one of Sean Payton’s seven inactives for Monday night’s game with the Miami Dolphins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Moore, who was hurt in the second half of the game with the Cardinals, didn’t practice all week and was listed as questionable on Saturday by Payton.

The Saints’ other inactives are SS Roman Harper (knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tom Johnson (hamstring), T Terron Armstead and CB Rod Sweeting.

Inactive for the Dolphins are CB Dimitri Patterson (groin), DE Cameron Wake (knee), DB Will Davis, RB Mike Gillislee, T Dallas Thomas, G Danny Watkins and QB Pat Devlin.

Thomas, a third-round draft pick of the Dolphins this spring, is a Baton Rouge native and a graduate of Scotlandville High School.

Live chat during the Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints game

Saints’ Evans back on the practice field after hamstring injury

After having a streak of 122 consecutive starts snapped by a hamstring injury on Sunday, Saints guard Jahri Evans was back on the practice field Thursday.

The Saints started preparations for their Week 4 game with the Miami Dolphins a day later than usual because it will be played on Monday night, which Evans welcomed after sitting out Sunday’s 31-7 win against the Arizona Cardinals.

Evans, who was dressed for the game in case of an emergency, said Sunday he hoped to be back for the game with the Dolphins — a matchup of 3-0 teams in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — and he took that first step Thursday when he practiced on a limited basis.

Evans injured his hamstring in the first half of a Sept. 15 game with the Tampa Bay Bucs, but managed to finish the game. He didn’t practice all last week and Friday couldn’t run well enough to play, which helped coach Sean Payton make a decision to insert rookie Tim Lelito into the lineup.

“We were just cautious not to hurt it more,” said Evans, a four-time All-Pro. “We wanted to be smart with it. We knew we had extra days coming into this week, and it paid dividends.”

SAINTS RISING: With three solid defensive performances behind them, the Saints’ new-look defense continues to climb in the NFL stats.

In allowing a season-low 247 total yards to the Cardinals, the Saints’ defense soared seven spots to fourth in the league in fewest yards allowed at 295.7 yards per game.

The Saints also moved up four spots from eighth to fourth against the pass at 184.3 yards per game and improved seven spots against the run, going from 27th to 20th at 111.3 per game. They’re also fifth in scoring defense at 12.7 points a contest.

SCORING DOWN: One of the biggest reasons the Saints are 3-0 going into Monday night’s game is the scoring defense after they allowed 17, 14 and 7 points in their wins over the Atlanta Falcons, Bucs and Cardinals.

Seven of those points against the Bucs came on an 85-yard interception return by Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster, which should be chalked up to the offense.

Officially, the Saints have given up 38 points in the first three games. That’s two points less than the Saints allowed in their 2012 season opener — a 40-32 setback to the Washington Redskins.

Only the 1992 Saints, who allowed just 28 points in the first three games, have given up fewer points at this point in the season.

PRACTICE REPORT: Seven Saints did not participate in Thursday’s practice.

Not working were WR Lance Moore (hand), RB Mark Ingram (toe), SS Roman Harper (knee), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), DE Tom Johnson (hamstring) and G Tim Lelito (calf).

In addition to Evans, CB Jabari Greer (back), CB Chris Carr (knee) and FS Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle) were limited.

For the Dolphins, CB Dimitri Patterson (groin) did not practice. DE Cameron Wake (knee), DT Paul Soliai (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ribs), LB Koa Misi (shoulder), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder) and S Chris Clemson (quadriceps/hamstring) were limited.

STRONG START: After defeating the Falcons, Bucs and Cardinals, the Saints are 3-0 for only the seventh time in the franchise’s 47-year history.

It’s the third time they’ve gone 3-0 under Payton as they did it in 2006 and ’09. They also started with three consecutive wins in 1991 and 1993 under Jim Mora, in 1998 under Mike Ditka, and in 2002 under Jim Haslett.

BREAKING GROUND: Saints owner Tom Benson was among those participating Thursday in a ground-breaking ceremony for a new athletic facility adjacent to Carver High School in the Ninth Ward.

The “Ninth Ward Field of Dreams” will consist of a community football field, Olympic-sized running track and 1,000-seat facility, will be open to area high schools, middle schools and community members.

“We do everything we can to help as an organization, especially with playgrounds, because it’s so important that our young people become Super Bowl stars some day,” Benson said.

Saints’ defense rises seven spots to fourth in NFL rankings

With three encouraging defensive performances behind them, the Saints continued their rise up the NFL stats on Tuesday.

After allowing a season-low 247 total yards in a smothering 31-7 win against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Saints’ defense jumped up seven spots to fourth in fewest yards allowed at 295.7 yards per game.

The 3-0 Saints, who play the Miami Dolphins (3-0) on Monday night, also moved up four spots from eighth to fourth against the pass at 184.3 yards a game and improved seven spots against the run, going from 27th to 20th at 111.3 per game.

In scoring defense, the Saints dropped their season average from 15.5 points per game to 12.7 and now rank fifth after being tied for sixth a week ago.

After allowing an NFL single-season record of 440.1 yards per game in 2012, the Saints’ defense actually is ranked higher than its record-setting offense — for one of the few times since Sean Payton arrived in 2006.

The Saints’ offense ranks sixth at 404.3 yards per game, up three spots from last week, and are fourth in passing with 318.7 yards a game and remained 24th in rushing despite a 12.2-yard increase over last week at 85.7 yards a contest.

The Dolphins, who shocked the Atlanta Falcons 27-23 on Sunday, rank 26th in total offense at 319.3 yards per game and are 22nd in total defense in allowing 372.0 yards per game.

The Saints and Dolphins are tied for ninth in turnover differential at plus-2. Both teams have six takeaways and four giveaways.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Monday night’s game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

SAINTS

Offense: Total yards, 404.3 (6); rushing, 85.7 (24); passing, 318.7 (4); scoring, 23.3 (t15).

Defense: Total yards, 295.7 (4); rushing, 111.1 (20); passing, 184.3 (4); scoring, 12.7 (5).

Turnover differential: plus-2 (t9)/4 giveaways, 6 takeaways.

DOLPHINS

Offense: Total yards, 319.3 (26); rushing, 70.3 (28); passing, 249.0 (14); scoring, 23.3 (t15).

Defense: Total yards, 372.0 (22); rushing, 108.7 (19); passing, 263.3 (20); scoring, 17.7 (8).

Turnover differential: plus-2 (t9)/4 giveaways, 6 takeaways.

Saints chat with Advocate sportswriter Ramon Antonio Vargas

Saints’ Evans has consecutive games streak snapped at 122

Saints’ All-Pro guard Jahri Evans had a streak of 122 consecutive starts snapped Sunday because of a hamstring injury he sustained in the second quarter of last week’s game with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Evans, who started 114 regular-season games and eight postseason games in a row since joining the Saints in 2006, was held out of practice all week and dressed but did not play in a 31-7 win against the Arizona Cardinals.

That was the good news for Evans, who hopes to return to the lineup for the Saints’ next game — a Sept. 30 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

“It was pretty tough,” Evans said of sitting one out, “but we got the win.

“That’s what was most important,” he said. “We just wanted to be smart about things and not make it worse. I should be good for next week, getting more treatment and having an extra day because it’s on a Monday night.”

Rookie Tim Lelito, who made the team as an undrafted free agent this summer, started in Evans’ place at right guard.

INGRAM SIDELINED: Saints running back Mark Ingram, who did not practice all week because of a toe injury, was inactive Sunday.

Ingram, who sustained a turf toe injury that ended his rookie season prematurely in 2011 and required surgery, was listed as questionable by coach Sean Payton on Friday but was held out of the game.

INACTIVES: In addition to Ingram, the Saints inactives were S Roman Harper (knee), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tom Johnson (hamstring), WR Nick Toon and CB Rod Sweeting.

Inactives of note for the Cardinals were DT Dan Williams (personal) and LB Kevin Minter (hamstring). Minter is a former LSU standout.

Williams didn’t make the trip after his father, Thomas, was killed in a car accident on Friday near Grenada, Miss.

INJURIES: For the Saints, WR Lance Moore left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

For the Cardinals, LB Lorenzo Alexander left the game with a right foot injury in the first quarter, S Rashard Johnson injured a finger in the second period and LB Sam Acho left in the third quarter with an ankle problem.

None of them returned to the game.

GETTING ON THE BOARD: The Cardinals had two firsts Sunday when they scored for the first time in the opening period and allowed their first points of the season in that period.

After taking the opening kickoff, the Cardinals drove 80 yards in 11 plays to a 3-yard TD run by Alfonso Smith.

On the ensuing drive, the Saints’ offense marched 80 yards in eight plays to put up the first points in the first quarter against the Cardinals this season on a 27-yard TD from Drew Brees to Robert Meachem.

FLYING EAST: Instead of returning home to Phoenix, the Cardinals chartered flight will head to Tampa, Fla., where they will play the Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Cardinals will set up camp and practice in Bradenton, Fla. The last time they did that in the regular season was in 2008 when they sandwiched games with the Washington Redskins and New York Jets around a week of practice in northern Virginia.

GOING BACKWARDS: Since a 45-14 playoff loss to the Saints in the Superdome on Jan. 16, 2010, the Cardinals, who claimed NFC West titles in 2008 when they went to Super Bowl XLIII and also in 2009, have a 19-32 record.

LAGNIAPPE: Saints rookie defensive end Glenn Foster, who was questionable after missing the first two games with an ankle injury, was active for the first time. Foster recorded his first career sack against Carson Palmer in the third period. … Running back Darren Sproles’ 15-yard run in the third quarter was the longest of the season for the Saints until Khiry Robinson had a 21-yarder in the final period. … Veteran NFL official Greg Gauthreaux, of Lafayette, was the field judge for Sunday’s game.

Cardinals’ Dan Williams to miss game with Saints

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Dan Williams will miss Sunday’s game with the Saints after his father, Thomas, was killed in a car accident earlier this weekend.

Dan Williams did not accompany the team on its chartered flight from Phoenix on Saturday.

Thomas Williams was driving from Memphis to New Orleans with his wife and daughter for te game when their vehicle was involved in an accident.

Cardinals spokesman Mark Dalton said the crash happened in the vicinity of Jackson, Miss.

Dalton said Thomas Williams’ wife and daughter were hospitalized, but are expected to be OK.

Saints RB Mark Ingram inactive for game with Cardinals

Saints running back Mark Ingram, who did not practice all week because of a toe injury, is inactive for Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Ingram, who suffered a turf toe injury that ended his rookie season prematurely in 2011, was listed as questionable by coach Sean Payton on Friday but was one of seven inactives turned in to the league office.

Payton announced Friday that strong safety Roman Harper (knee) and free safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle) would not play against the Cardinals.

The other inactives for the Saints are NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tom Johnson (knee), WR Nick Toon and CB Rod Sweeting.

DE Glenn Foster, who missed the first two games with an ankle injury and was listed as questionable, is active.

Inactives for the Cardinals are LB Kevin Minter (hamstring), DT Dan Williams (family matter), RB Ryan Williams, T Bobby Massie, G Earl Watford, TE D.C. Jefferson and QB Ryan Lindley.

Dan Williams will miss the game after his father, Thomas, was killed in a car accident earlier this weekend.

Live chat during the Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints game

Saints RB Sproles says Goldson tried to hurt him

Saints running back Darren Sproles said Tampa Bay Bucs safety Dashon Goldson tried to hurt him when he delivered a helmet-to-helmet blow to Sproles in the second quarter of Sunday’s game.

Speaking with reporters after Thursday’s practice, Sproles said, “He tried to hurt me on the play. … But he didn’t, so it’s all good.”

Sproles, who was trying to catch a pass from Drew Brees when he was struck, said Goldson’s history shows he “tries … a lot of dirty hits. But that’s football, though.”

Sproles comments echoed those of Brees, who spoke out Wednesday after the one-game suspension Goldson was given Monday for repeated violations of NFL safety rules was overturned. He was fined $100,000 instead.

Goldson was also fined $30,000 in Week 1 for a hit on New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland. The unnecessary roughness penalty Goldson drew for striking Sproles was his fifth since 2011.

Meanwhile, Bucs safety Ahmad Black told Tampa reporters he was fined $21,000 for a late hit on Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. Black hit Graham as he was being tackled from behind by a defender after an incomplete pass.

BACKING VACCARO: Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro said he received words of support and  more from many fans after he was fined $7,875 last week for his Week 1 hit against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Vaccaro was penalized and subsequently fined for hitting Ryan, who gave himself up by sliding down after scrambling for a first down.

“A lot of fans reached out on Twitter,” Vaccaro said Thursday. “Some said they would pay it for me. I don’t know if they would have, but I couldn’t let anybody do that. It was my fine, but it means a lot for them to back me up like that.”

PRACTICE REPORT: The Saints had only one change on Thursday’s practice report as defensive end Glenn Foster (ankle) was limited after not working Wednesday.

Not participating for the second straight day were RB Mark Ingram (toe), G Jahri Evans (hamstring), S Roman Harper (knee), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tom Johnson (hamstring) and S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle).

DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) was limited again Thursday as the Saints continued preparing for Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals.

FITZGERALD SITS: Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald did not participate in practice for the second straight day on Thursday.

Fitzgerald has a hamstring injury that limited his snaps in Sunday’s 25-21 win against the Detroit Lions.

Also not practicing Thursday were LB Kevin Minter (hamstring) and RB Rashard Mendenhall (toe). Minter, a rookie, is a former LSU player.

TE Rob Housler (ankle) was limited.

ARIANS GETS HIS CHANCE: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is getting his first shot as a full-time head coach after going 9-3 a year ago, which earned him NFL Coach of the Year honors, when Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano was being treated for cancer.

The 60-year-old Arians was on the Saints’ staff in 1996, coaching tight ends for Jim Mora.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be a head coach, and to be able to go back to the places I was an assistant at is always very special,” Arians said of returning to New Orleans on Sunday.

“He’s done a great job offensively wherever he’s been,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Clearly, in his role last year in Indianapolis, he did a fantastic job and is well deserving of a head coaching job.”

FAMILIAR FACES: In addition to cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Kevin Minter, who all played at LSU, the Cardinals have three coaches with Baton Rouge ties.

Running backs coach Stump Mitchell was the head coach at Southern University (2010-12), while quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens (2000) and offensive line assistant Larry Zierlein (1993-94) are former LSU assistants.

EARLY ARRIVAL: Saints quarterback Luke McCown and wife, Katy, welcomed the arrival of their sixth child — a girl they named Leah Denise — last Saturday morning.

The baby was due on Oct. 1, but called an audible and arrived just a few hours before the Saints’ chartered plane departed for Tampa.

JONES TO APPEAR: Former Saints cornerback Reggie Jones will make an appearance at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum before Sunday’s game from 10-11:15 a.m.

Admission to the museum, located at Gate B on the Plaza level of the Superdome, is free to ticket holders for three hours before and 45 minutes after each home game.