Saints, Brees next up for Rex Ryan’s shell-shocked Jets

After Sunday’s 49-9 shellacking at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan would have liked to have turned the page as quickly as possible to his team’s next game.

But with the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees staring him in the face, it wasn’t that appealing.

“If we don’t play better than we did (Sunday),” Ryan said jokingly after the second-worst loss of his five-year tenure as Jets’ coach, “that guy (Brees) will break every record known to man against us.”

During a conference call Wednesday, Ryan said he has a feeling his team will play a little better than it did against the Bengals. Yet, he knows what the Jets will be facing when they go against Brees, who’s already more than halfway to an eighth straight 4,000-yard passing season with 2,290 yards.

“The dude is a surgeon … he just picks you apart,” Ryan said. “He can make all the throws, all the protocols and things. (He’s) poised, sees the field, (he’s) accurate.

“But he’s an amazing guy. … His numbers are historic that he puts up,” he added. “Man, I was hoping he wasn’t going to make the trip.”

BRESS-ING ALONG: It’s easy see why Ryan is concerned about Brees shredding his secondary.

Brees had 332 passing yards and five touchdowns and compiled a 146.1 passer rating in Sunday’s 35-17 victory against one of Ryan’s AFC East rivals — the Buffalo Bills.

Brees is on a tear after throwing four interceptions in the first three games. The four picks came in his first 112 passes this season, but has served up just one in his last 159 attempts — that one coming in a 30-27 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 13.

In the past four games, Brees has 13 touchdowns to one interception.

COLSTON, EVANS SIT: Wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Jahri Evans didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice when the Saints began their on-field preparations for Sunday’s game with the Jets.

Colston has a knee injury and Evans was sidelined with a hip, according to the injury report the Saints turned in to the NFL office.

Also not participating were FS Malcolm Jenkins (knee), SS Kenny Vaccaro (concussion) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee).

Jenkins, who missed the second half of Sunday’s win against the Bills, said he would be day-to-day.

HARPER RETURNS: Strong safety Roman Harper, who hadn’t practiced or played since a Week 2 game with the Tampa Bay Bucs because of a knee injury, was able to work on a limited basis.

Also limited were TE Jimmy Graham (foot), LB David Hawthorne (ankle), WR Kenny Stills (knee) and CB Rod Sweeting (hip).

CB Keenan Lewis (foot/knee), DE Akiem Hicks (knee) and DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) had full participation.

GOING BOWLING: Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that he hadn’t had a chance to talk with Tulane coach Curtis Johnson about his team, which became bowl-eligible for the first time in more than a decade last Saturday.

Johnson coached Saints’ wide receivers from 2006 to 2011 for Payton before taking the Tulane job. After a 2-10 season in 2012, the Green Wave is 6-2 and eligible for a postseason bowl.

When he heard they were bowl-eligible, Payton said the only thing he could think of was that a bowl isn’t Johnson’s only goal.

“I think it’s great, and yet, I think their goals and sights are much higher,” Payton said. “But it’s good to see them playing well.”

BREES, STILLS NOMINATED: Brees and wide receiver Kenny Stills, who connected on three passes for 129 yards with touchdowns of 69 and 42 yards in the win over the Bills, are up for national awards this week.

Brees is one of three candidate for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week honor, which he won in Week 4, and Stills is one of five nominees for the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week Award.

Fans can vote for both until Friday morning at www.NFL.com.

SAINTS, PELICANS JOIN: The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) has announced a partnership with the Saints and NBA’s Pelicans for their current seasons.

TFL, the Saints and Pelicans will work together to promote smoke-free environments and the importance of protection against secondhand smoke.

Players will help spread the message of the importance of being tobacco-free and why they choose to do so through various PSAs and other promotional efforts.

Saints’ Colston, Evans sit out Wednesday’s practice

Five Saints players did not practice in the team’s first full workout of the week on Wednesday as they began preparing for Sunday’s game with the New York Jets.

Wide receiver Marques Colston (knee), guard Jahri Evans (hip), free safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee), safety Kenny Vaccaro (head/back) and defensive end Tyrunn Walker (knee) did not participate in the practice.

Jenkins missed the second half of Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills with what teams officials said was a leg injury, while Vaccaro was injured late in the fourth quarter when he collided with cornerback Keenan Lewis as they attempted to break up a pass.

Colston and Evans apparently made it through the game with their injuries, while Walker was inactive for the third game in a row.

Strong safety Roman Harper (knee), tight end Jimmy Graham (foot), linebacker David Hawthorne (ankle), wide receiver Kenny Stills (knee) and cornerback Rod Sweeting (hip) were limited.

Lewis (foot/knee), defensive end Akiem Hicks (knee) and defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle) had full participation.

Harper practiced for the first time since he last played in a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay. Also, running back Mark Ingram, who has missed the past five games with a toe injury, was not listed at all.

Saints move up to fourth in turnover differential at plus-8

Thanks to their three takeaways and no giveaways in Sunday’s 35-17 win against the Buffalo Bills, the Saints have moved up to fourth on the NFL’s turnover differential chart through Week 8.

Through seven games, the Saints, who travel to the Meadowlands on Sunday to face the New York Jets, have 15 takeaways and only seven giveaways for a net of plus-8. The Kansas City Chiefs lead the league at plus-12, but they’ve played one more game than the Saints.

The Saints (6-1) dropped three spots in rushing offense and one in passing offense to 25th and third, respectively, but remained sixth in total offense with 396.0  yards per game. The Saints did move up one spot to fifth in scoring at 28.0 points per outing.

On defense, the Saints dropped one spot to 12th in total yards allowed at 332.4 yards per game, but improved two spots against the run to 20th at 110.3 yards a game.

The Saints remained in a tie for ninth against the pass at 222.1 yards per game and are still fourth in points allowed at 17.1 per game.

The Jets (4-4) rank 17th in total offense with 330.4 yards per game, but are sixth in total defense in allowing 315.0 yards a game. They lead the league in rushing defense, however, allowing just 77.9 yards per outing.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Sunday’s game in MetLife Stadium:

SAINTS (6-1)

Offense: Total yards, 396.0 (6); rushing, 85.3 (25); passing, 310.7 (3); scoring, 28.0 (5).

Defense: Total yards, 332.4 (12); rushing, 110.3 (20); passing, 222.1 (t9); scoring, 17.1 (4).

Turnover differential: Plus-8 (4)/7 giveaways (5 interceptions, 2 fumbles), 15 takeaways (9 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries).

JETS (4-4)

Offense: Total yards, 330.4 (17); rushing, 120.4 (13); passing, 210.0 (22); scoring, 17.9 (t27).

Defense: Total yards, 315.0 (6); rushing, 77.9 (1); passing, 237.1 (15); scoring, 26.4 (t23).

Turnover differential: Minus-12 (t31)/17 giveaways (13 interception, 4 fumbles), 5 takeaways (3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries).

Saints WR Kenny Stills nominated for Pepsi rookie award

Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills is one of five nominees for the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Week Award, which is voted on by fans via the Internet.

Stills, a fifth-round draft pick from Oklahoma, caught three passes for 169 yards with touchdowns of 69 and 42 yards in the Saints’ 35-17 win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Also nominated are Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, Oakland Raiders linebacker Sio Moore and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Fans can vote at www.NFL.com/Rookies until Friday.

Saints chat with Advocate sportswriter Ramon Antonio Vargas

Saints down to five healthy DBs at end of Bills’ game

After a series of injuries, the Saints were down to five healthy defensive backs for the final minutes of Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Luckily for the Saints, they had to go one play short-handed when Drew Brees and the offense milked the final 3 minutes and 55 seconds off the clock in their 35-17 win.

Already playing without strong safety Roman Harper, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a knee problem, the Saints also lost starting free safety Malcolm Jenkins to a leg injury in the second quarter.

Then, cornerback Keenan Lewis injured his right knee after he intercepted Bills quarterback Thad Lewis in the final quarter. He returned only to have a nasty collision with safety Kenny Vaccaro as they attempted to break up a pass near the sideline with 4:00 to play in the game.

Jenkins said after the game that he “tweaked” his leg.

“It was more on the precautionary side … to make sure I didn’t do anything bad,” he said, declining to talk about the exact nature of the injury.

Vaccaro and Lewis appeared to be OK in the locker room after the game.

GETTING ROUGH: Saints backup cornerback Corey White was flagged for two roughing the passer penalties in the third period, which twice kept the Bills’ final touchdown drive going.

Coming on a corner blitz on third-and-9 at the Bills’ 46, White appeared to hit Thad Lewis legally just as he delivered the ball. But White was flagged by referee Terry McAulay, however, allowing the drive to continue.

Four plays later, White put up his hands and ran right into Lewis on third-and-5, giving the Bills a first-and-goal at the Saints’ 4.

“I didn’t talk to the refs, but (coach) Sean (Payton) said it was a helmet-to-helmet thing,” said White, who added that he’ll appeal if fined by the NFL.

“Hopefully, they’ll give me a little leeway,” he said. “If not, there goes Christmas.”

WILLIAM’ HOMECOMING: Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who helped LSU claim the 2003 BCS title over Oklahoma in the Superdome, returned to the stadium on Sunday and had a nice day in a losing effort.

Williams was credited with nine total tackles, which was second on the team, and had 1 1/2 of their four sacks of Drew Brees.

While not happy with the outcome, Williams said it was special to return to the building and play near his home in Baton Rouge.

“It’s good to come down here with so many family and friends in the stands,” he said. “But it was nothing more than another game for me and for our team. But we came up short today.”

INACTIVES: In addition to Harper, the Saints’ inactives were RB Mark Ingram (toe), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), CB Rod Sweeting (hip), RB Travaris Cadet, T Terron Armstead and QB Ryan Griffin.

Inactives of note for the Bills were QB E.J. Manuel (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (ankle), LB Manny Lawson (hamstring), QB Matt Flynn and CB Justin Rogers.

Flynn is a former LSU standout and Rogers, a Baton Rouge native, is a Redemptorist High School grad who played collegiately at Richmond.

RED ZONE PROBLEMS: The Saints failed to score on two of their first three visits to the red zone on Sunday after getting some points on 20 of their 22 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line in the first six games.

Garrett Hartley missed field-goal attempts of 47 and 38 yards against the Bills after the Saints scored 10 touchdowns and had 10 field goals on their first 22 trips to the red zone this season.

The Saints did score touchdowns on their other three trips to the red zone.

SURVIVING THE BYE: In topping the Bills, the Saints won for the fifth consecutive year in their first game back after the bye.

They lost their first three games after a regular-season bye after Payton took over in 2006, but are now 5-3 after winning their last five in a row.

DID YOU NOTICE?: The Saints were caught with only 10 defenders on the field when Bills running back Fred Jackson had a 3-yard run to the Saints’ 10 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Bills lined up quickly to run another play, which forced Payton to sprint down the sideline to the 10-yard line to request a timeout from an official and get the proper personnel group on the field.

LAGNIAPPE: Payton now has a 17-10 record against AFC teams, winning 15 of his last 18 against the other conference. … The Saints did not turn the ball over Sunday and are 27-1 counting the postseason when they don’t have a giveaway since Payton took over in 2006. … Brees was called for two false starts in a row in the first half, turning a third-and-1 at the Bills’ 11 into a third-and-11. … Saints reserve tight end Josh Hill, an undrafted free agent, had his first NFL catch in the third quarter. He had an 8-yarder and later added a 9-yarder.

Ted Lewis and Brian Allee-Walsh contributed to this report.

Saints TE Jimmy Graham active for game with Bills

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is active and will dress out for today’s game with the Buffalo Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Graham injured his left foot in the team’s last game on Oct. 13 at New England and was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday before working on a limited basis Friday.

Graham is the Saints’ leading receiver with 37 catches for 593 yards and six touchdowns despite being shut out in the loss to the Patriots.

The Saints’ inactives are SS Roman Harper (knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), CB Rod Sweeting (hip), RB Travaris Cadet, T Terron Armstead and QB Ryan Griffin.

Harper and Ingram are both inactive for the fifth consecutive game.

The Bills’ inactives are QB E.J. Manuel (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (ankle), LB Manny Lawson (hamstring), QB Matt Flynn, CB Justin Rogers, LB Ty Powell and G Antoine McClain.

Flynn is a former LSU standout and Rogers, a Baton Rouge native, is a Redemptorist High School grad who played his college ball at Richmond.

Live chat during the Buffalo Bills at New Orleans Saints game

Saints begin five-game, 26-day stretch Sunday against Bills

The Saints’ bye came at just the right time last weekend.

After getting a full week off from practice and a weekend without a game thanks to the bye, the Saints returned Monday to begin preparing for Sunday’s game with the Buffalo Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints better be well-rested because the game with the Bills will be the first of five in a busy 26-day span that will culminate with a Thursday night game on Nov. 21.

“I didn’t realize that, but it seems like the week off came at the right time,” free safety Malcolm Jenkins said after practice on Thursday. “We’re rested and ready to go to the next stretch of games.”

After Sunday’s meeting with the Bills, the Saints go to the New York Jets (Nov. 3) and play the Dallas Cowboys (Nov. 10) and San Francisco 49ers (Nov. 17) at home. They finish the stretch four nights later at the Atlanta Falcons (Nov. 21) on a Thursday night.

“When you have a stretch like that, you grit your teeth and go through it,” Jenkins said. “You can’t worry about it, you just take ’em one at a time.”

GRAHAM OUT AGAIN: Tight end Jimmy Graham again did not practice Thursday and will likely be questionable at best for Sunday’s game when coach Sean Payton issues his final injury report of the week Friday.

Graham injured his left foot in the fourth quarter of their last game on Oct. 13 at New England and did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and likely didn’t work Monday when Payton held a “bonus” practice.

Payton no longer discusses injuries, but when asked how much practice Graham could miss during week where he would still comfortable with him in a game, Payton said, “He’s day-to-day. (Friday) will be an important day. We’ll just kind of go by that.”

PRACTICE REPORT: In addition to Graham, SS Roman Harper (knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) and CB Rod Sweeting (hip) didn’t practice Thursday.

DE Cameron Jordan (ankle) and T Zach Strief (ankle) were able to participate on a limited basis after not working Wednesday.

CB Jabari Greer (not injury-related) was back Thursday.

For the Bills, DT Kyle Williams (Achilles) worked fully and RB Fred Jackson (knee) were limited after being held out on Wednesday.

QB E.J. Manuel (knee), RB C.J. Spiller (ankle) and LB Manny Lawson (hamstring) did not practice for the second day in a row.

FAMILIAR FACES: Williams, a former LSU standout, is one of four players from Louisiana or who played at state schools on the Bills’ roster.

Also on the active roster are two other former LSU players — quarterback Matt Flynn and cornerback Ron Brooks — as well as cornerback Justin Rogers, a Baton Rouge native and Redemptorist High School grad.

Safety Jim Leonhard was with the Saints in training camp, but was released when the team made its final cuts on Aug. 31.

RECORD GONE: Saints quarterback Drew Brees had his FBS record of 83 pass attempts in a game erased Saturday when Washington State’s Connor Halliday threw 89 passes in a 62-38 loss to Oregon.

Brees held the mark since 1998 when he completed 55 of 83 attempts for 494 yards in Purdue’s 31-24 loss to Wisconsin. Halliday was 58 of 89 for 557 yards in losing to second-ranked Oregon.

When asked if it hurt to lose the record, Brees said, “No. … Records are made to be broken.”

Brees said throwing 83 passes back in 1998 was a bit unusual. But not so much in this day and age of the spread offense and up-tempo style of play.

“Nowadays if a team puts up 70 points, 500 yards of offense and throws it 80 times, it’s not all that uncommon,” he said. “But still, that’s 89 times.”

LOVING IT: Bills coach Doug Marrone, a former Saints’ offensive coordinator, praised the work of second-year Tulane coach Curtis Johnson during a conference call Wednesday.

Marrone and Johnson were members of Payton’s first staff and the two worked together from 2006-08 when Marrone left to become head coach at Syracuse. Johnson, who took the Tulane job a year ago, is 5-2 this season.

“He’s always been a great recruiter,” Marrone said. “You can see the talent coming in there. I’m so happy for him … if anyone can get that thing done, especially from a recruiting standpoint, he definitely can get some players.”

SEE O.J. RUN: The Saints are 0-3 all-time in the Superdome against the Bills.

Their only win in New Orleans came in Tulane Stadium, 13-0, on Nov. 4, 1973 when they held O.J. Simpson, who was on his way to becoming the NFL’s first 2,000-yard rusher, to just 79 yards on 20 carries.

That was one of only three games that season that Simpson failed to gain 100 yards.

DOMBROWSKI TO APPEAR: Former Saints guard Jim Dombrowski will appear at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum in the Superdome on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Dombrowski played 11 seasons with the Saints and was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2003.

Located at Gate B on the Plaza level of the Superdome, the Saints Hall of Fame Museum is open three hours prior to and for 45 minutes after each home game. Admission is free for game ticket holders.

Saints running back Mark Ingram says ‘I want to be out there’

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram used to not be able to believe it whenever players missed time with injured toes — until he hurt a big one during his team’s win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 15 and sat out the next four games.

“That big toe will sit you down,” Ingram said. “It’s everything. You can’t walk if your big toe hurts.”

But things on Friday seemed to be looking up for Ingram. After practicing on a limited basis, he told media afterward, “I felt real good, the best I’ve felt since having the injury. It just felt good to be out there, running around with teammates.”

Ingram appeared to be in a jovial mood while talking to reporters about his physical recovery, which the third-year running back said he’s been careful to not rush. Ingram said his current injury is not at all similar to the one that cut his rookie season short.

“It’s nothing like that last one,” said Ingram, who is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills (3-4) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “The last one required surgery.”

Ingram added that he spent his bye week in New Orleans getting treatment, staying off his feet and “just trying to be healthy” before training with the team on Monday and Friday.

Coach Sean Payton on Friday described Ingram as “upbeat.”

“I thought he … turned the corner,” Payton said. “When you’re a running back or certain positions, you’re going to have some injuries, you’re going to have some of those things that keep you from being full speed, and I think he understands that.”

The 5-1 Saints haven’t needed Ingram (31 yards on 17 carries this year) to hurry his rehab. At running back for the Saints, rookie Khiry Robinson has rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries; Darren Sproles has 484 combined rushing and receiving yards and two TDs; Pierre Thomas has 383 combined rushing and receiving yards and two TDs; and even second-year man Travaris Cadet, rarely called upon, has chipped in with a TD.

Nonetheless, Ingram said, “I want to be out there. If I’m 100 percent, I’ll be out there.”

Ingram, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, joked that he wouldn’t wish his toe injury upon his worst enemy: an Auburn fan.