Saints backup quarterback Luke McCown will have a chance Sunday to see both sides of the longstanding rivalry between his new team and the Atlanta Falcons when the NFC South rivals open the season in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
McCown, a former Louisiana Tech star, got a little taste of it last season when he was released by the Saints in preseason and was picked up a day later by the Falcons, who went on to win the division title and came within 10 yards of reaching Super Bowl XLVII.
While the teams’ fans have enjoyed the feud for years, McCown believes the recent success of the Saints and Falcons have fanned the flames more. The Saints, who won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009, claimed the NFC South title that year and ’11 as well, while the Falcons won in 2010 and ’12.
“You have two very, very good organizations and it started when (Falcons coach) Mike Smith and (quarterback) Matt Ryan walked through the door and started winning games, pretty much like Sean Payton and Drew Brees did here,” McCown said. “Organizationally, they took pretty similar paths.”
NO MORE MCCLURE: When Ryan takes the field for his team’s first offensive play Sunday, he’ll still be getting used to a new center after the retirement of former Central High and LSU standout Todd McClure.
Ryan took snaps the past five seasons from McClure, a former seventh-round draft pick who became a mainstay of the Falcons’ offensive line and started 194 of 197 games in a 13-year career.
“It’s tough,” Ryan said of not having McClure around. “It’s one of those things where I’ve played with him for five years, my entire career, and he’s been such an important part of helping me come along. But Peter Konz, who is playing center for us now, has done a great job in that transition.”
INJURY REPORT: There were no changes Thursday to the practice report the Saints and Falcons issued following Wednesday’s workout.
Not working Thursday for the Saints were S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle) and DE Glenn Foster (ankle).
For the Falcons, WR Roddy White (ankle), CB Asante Samuel (thigh) and LB Stephen Nicholas (thigh) were limited and K Matt Bryant (back) had full participation again.
DOWN TO A DOZEN: With the return of wide receiver Robert Meachem on Tuesday, the Saints only have 12 players on the active roster who won Super Bowl rings with the team just four seasons ago.
The others are Garrett Hartley, Thomas Morstead, Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Pierre Thomas, Malcolm Jenkins, Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, Zach Strief and Jahri Evans.
Two other member of that 2009 team — Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma — are on injured reserve and do not count against the active roster.
‘LOMBARDI’ OPENS: If he finds the time this month, Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi might check out the season-opening play at the Le Petit Theater du Vieux Carre located at 616 St. Peter St. in New Orleans.
The theater makes its debut Friday night with “Lombardi,” a play based on David Maraniss’ book, “When Pride Still Mattered … A Life of Vince Lombardi.”
Joe Lombardi is the grandson of the late NFL coaching legend and subject of the Broadway play, which runs through Sept. 21.
BRONCOS, NINERS FAVORED: According to Bovada.lv, the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers are co-favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII at 6 to 1 each.
The Saints are fifth among NFC teams and are the eighth choice to win it all at 18 to 1. The Falcons are tied for third among NFC teams at 12 to 1 along with the Green Bay Packers.
HORN TO APPEAR: Former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn will visit with fans at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Sunday.
Horn will be available for photos and autographs at the museum, which is located at Gate B on the Plaza level of the Superdome and is open for three hours before and 45 minutes after each Saints’ home game. Admission is free for ticket holders.