All posts by Ramon Antonio Vargas

Ramon Antonio Vargas has covered the Saints for The Advocate since 2013. He can be reached at rvargas@theadvocate.com and is @RVargasAdvocate on Twitter.

Returning Eric Olsen relieved to learn he hadn’t merely imagined that the Saints liked him

Eric Olsen felt good about his chances of making the Saints for a second season in a row as a backup offensive lineman until he stepped on someone else’s foot during training camp in 2013 and suffered a Lisfranc injury.

Eric Olsen

Eric Olsen

Olsen then wondered whether his odds of cracking the roster were all in his head when the Saints soon waived him with an injury settlement — and he was relieved to learn that they weren’t when New Orleans re-signed him Tuesday, about 13 months later.

“I always had the feeling they still liked me here, and that it was an injury-related thing that ended up happening,” Olsen said Wednesday. “It was good to know that I wasn’t just imagining that and that they still know what I can do and still feel comfortable enough to bring me back.”

Olsen — a guard and center in college — entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice in 2010 for Denver out of Notre Dame. He was active for one game in Denver and was waived.

He then spent some time on Washington’s practice squad in 2011 before signing with the Saints for the postseason that year, and he was active for 16 games with the Saints in 2012 as an extra blocker.

The Saints then waived Olsen with an injury settlement in early September 2013 after he hurt his foot in the summer. The settlement provided him with money through the seventh week of the 2013 regular season, but he would’ve rather remained a member of the team on injured reserve.

“It’s frustrating to be (let go) — I would’ve liked to have been on IR for the year as a worst-case scenario,” said Olsen, who had been a free agent after brief stints with Pittsburgh and Tennessee following his initial tenure in New Orleans. “The circumstances were tough.”

But Saints center Jonathan Goodwin has left three of the last four games early with leg injuries. He may not be able to play when the Saints (2-4) host Green Bay (5-2) on Sunday night, and New Orleans turned to Olsen to add depth under Goodwin’s backup, second-year guard/center Tim Lelito.

Olsen had worked out for the Saints earlier this regular season.

“He has experience,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday when asked about repatriating Olsen. “He’s a versatile player.”

Giving offense good field position twice in Detroit, Saints defense focused on ‘Operation: Feed Drew’

The Saints offense twice experienced a luxury they haven’t experienced all year during Sunday’s 24-23 defeat at Detroit.

They started in their opponents’ territory.

New Orleans converted those opportunities into a touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Bees and a field goal that both nearly gave the team their third victory of the season. And the obvious benefits of creating takeaways that set up the Saints’ offense in enemy territory were cause enough for safety Kenny Vaccaro and his teammates to intensify their focus on what he dubbed “Operation: Feed Drew.”

“We have to keep taking those,” Vaccaro said Wednesday. “The more chances he gets to score the ball, the better chance we have at winning.”

The Saints (2-4) have a paltry four takeaways this season. Only Jacksonville (1-6) and Washington (2-5) have fewer than that.

Making things worse is that two of the Saints’ takeaways didn’t do much to improve New Orleans’ field position. A fumble recovery by cornerback Corey White in a Week 1 loss at Atlanta at the goal-line set up the Saints at their 20, though New Orleans then went on an 80-yard touchdown drive. An interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson in a Week 5 win at home against Tampa Bay set the Saints up at their 4, and they punted on the ensuing drive.

When the Saints got their best starting position of the season off Lewis’ interception, at Detroit’s 29, they scored a touchdown. Vaccaro’s pick had the Saints’ offense starting at Detroit’s 49, and it led to a 36-yard field goal.
But Lewis’ and Vaccaro’s interceptions didn’t do much to improve the Saints’ 31st-ranked average starting field position: between their 22 and 23. That isn’t conducive to the quick scoring drives that can make winning easier for any team.

Brees said the Saints’ offense never expects needing short fields to succeed.

“If anything, we’re going to expect to start at the 10-, 20-yard line and have to march it,” said Brees, who’s completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,916 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. “We always have to be ready to march the ball the length of the field. … We don’t control how we get the ball. We control what we do with it once we get it.”

Nonetheless, a second-year player with two interceptions, Vaccaro called it his goal to give the ball back to Brees more often and in much better positions than the quarterback has been getting it.

“Every time I get a pick, I might run and give it to Drew (myself) from now on,” Vaccaro said.

Following up on Saints coach Sean Payton’s criticism of the officiating in 24-23 loss at Detroit

DETROIT — My newspaper story on Saints coach Sean Payton’s objections to the officiating in New Orleans’ 24-23 defeat to the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday didn’t permit me enough time or space to highlight all of the calls with which he likely took issue.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

So I wanted to follow up with a post that touched on a couple more of the plays that probably prompted him to criticize the performance of referee Terry McAulay’s crew in his news conference with the media afterwards.

The most obvious one I missed live from the press box was on a third-and-10 for the Saints at Detroit’s 18 with 5:35 left in the game and New Orleans leading 20-10. As quarterback Drew Brees dropped back to pass, Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley charged into the Saints’ backfield, grabbed Travaris Cadet by the helmet and yanked the Saints’ running back to the turf.

With no one open further up the field, Brees checked down to Cadet and looked to dump it off to him. But Cadet was on the ground, and Brees threw the ball away to avoid being sacked by Fairley. Readers viewing the game on television pointed out that both Payton and Brees were irate when Fairley wasn’t penalized, which would’ve given the Saints a new set of downs closer to the goal-line the Lions (5-2) were defending.

Instead, Brees’ incompletion stopped the clock with 5:29 to go, and the Saints settled for a 36-yard field goal by kicker Shayne Graham that gave New Orleans a 23-10 lead.

Of course, after surrendering a 73-yard touchdown reception, throwing an interception that set up Detroit at the Saints’ 14, giving up another TD catch (this one from five yards out), and then ceding the ball to the Lions on downs with 21 seconds left, New Orleans lost by a point and dropped to 2-4.

Another moment where the officials upset those in New Orleans’ corner was on a punt from the Lions’ Sam Martin with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter. The ball hit the pylon after the punt, and many thought it’d be a touchback that would give the Saints the ball at their 20. But, as Lions players pleaded with them, officials ruled the ball went out of bounds at the Saints’ 1, leaving New Orleans to face a 99-yard field.

The Saints still drove to Detroit’s 30 to set up a 48-yard field goal by Graham that armed New Orleans with a 20-10 lead with 13:38 left in the game.

Payton remarked that the officiating wasn’t the only reason his team lost in Detroit, but he did make it a point to criticize the refs post-game.

“I wasn’t happy with the way that game was officiated,” Payton said. “I’m going to leave it at that.”

The trip to Detroit marked the end of what many considered to be the easy part of the Saints’ schedule. Their first six opponents had a winning percentage of .475, and none made the playoffs in 2013.

The Saints lost to four of those teams, all of whom they visited: aside from Detroit, New Orleans suffered setbacks in Atlanta (2-5), Cleveland (3-3) and Dallas (6-1).

They beat Tampa Bay (1-5) and Minnesota (2-5) at home.

The Saints’ next four opponents have a winning percentage of .593, and all made the playoffs in 2013. Of those, the Saints will host three — Green Bay (5-2), San Francisco (4-3) and Cincinnati (3-2-1) — and travel to one, Carolina (3-3-1).

(H/T @steven3210 on Twitter)

Saints’ five-game winning streak coming out the bye is done for; their vaunted winning streak at home may be next

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT — Many had circled the Saints’ trip to Detroit on Sunday as a victory because it was the first game coming out of New Orleans’ bye for this season.

The Saints had gone 5-0 since coach Sean Payton in 2009 grabbed a page from NFL colleague Andy Reid’s book and allowed players to take the full bye week off. Granted, only one of those contests had been on the road, where the Saints are a frightening 1-9 in their last 10 regular-season away games; but many felt it was a good bet New Orleans would find a way to win with extra rest and time to prepare.

They didn’t, and Sunday’s 24-23 defeat at Detroit (5-2) brought a quiet end to that oft-cited streak, dropping the Saints’ record this season to 2-4.

“The tough thing about it is the work and the preparation leading into the game is everything we wanted,” said Payton, whose team has also lost at Dallas (6-1), Atlanta (2-5) and Cleveland (3-3) while winning at home against Minnesota (2-5) and Tampa Bay (1-5).

Before the game was over, All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham played in only 30 of the Saints’ 74 offensive snaps because of a shoulder injury and was unable to catch a pass on either of his two targets. Second-year running back Khiry Robinson lost a fumble.

But the Saints got 214 of their 342 pass receiving yards from Marques Colston (six catches for 111 yards) and Kenny Stills, who had five catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. They got another touchdown catch from first-year fullback Austin Johnson, and kicker Shayne Graham was 3-for-3 on field goals.

On defense, the Saints had their first multiple takeaway game since Oct. 27, 2013, after interceptions by safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerback Keenan Lewis. Pass-rusher Junior Galette, linebacker Parys Haralson and cornerback Corey White each had one quarterback takedown behind the line of scrimmage to give the Saints a season-high three sacks, and the Saints seized a 23-10 lead with 5:24 to go.

Then, New Orleans surrendered a 73-yard touchdown reception by Golden Tate on what seemed to be a low-risk third-and-14 situation. Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw his seventh interception of the season on the ensuing offensive drive, and Detroit took over at New Orleans’ 14. The Lions soon scored a touchdown that helped give them a 24-23 lead, and the Saints lost the ball on downs on their final offensive drive.

Thus ended one streak. And another may soon suffer the same fate.

The 5-2 Green Bay Packers this upcoming Sunday night are set to visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where the Saints have won each of their last 19 games with Payton has coached them there (including the playoffs). That excludes home games played in the 2012 season, when Payton was suspended in the wake of the bounty scandal and the Saints were 4-4 in New Orleans.

The Packers have won four consecutive games. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns and a sole interception. Rodgers’ top target, wideout Jordy Nelson, led the NFL with 712 receiving yards and had six touchdowns (twice as many as anyone on the Saints has scored).

In Green Bay’s way at the Superdome will be a host that struggled to beat a bad Minnesota team 20-9 and then needed overtime as well as a favorable coin flip to finish off an even worse Tampa Bay squad 37-31.

“We … have to go out there and … win in our preparation during the week and come out against Green Bay and execute,” veteran Saints right guard Jahri Evans said in the visitor’s locker room after the Lions game.

If not, it’ll be time to bid adieu to Payton’s winning streak at the Superdome just seven days after the Saints’ five-game winning streak coming out of the bye was snapped.

Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus no longer on Saints solely because of roster numbers, Sean Payton says

Sometimes, remaining on the Saints’ roster is a matter of mathematics. And Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus is no longer in New Orleans simply because those didn’t fall to his benefit at the end of the 2013 season, Saints coach Sean Payton said Friday, two days before his team visits Detroit.

Isa Abdul-Quddus

Isa Abdul-Quddus

“He was a real good special teams player for us and someone that played in our defense when we got nicked up a little bit at safety,” said Payton, whose Saints were 2-3 as they prepared to clash with Abdul-Quddus and several other former New Orleans players. “I thinking more than anything else it just came down to numbers.”

Abdul-Quddus had 12 tackles and a pass-break up in 11 games last year, his third with New Orleans. In 42 games since 2011, the undrafted free agent out of Fordham had 47 tackles on defense, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions. The forced fumbles were in 2011; the turnovers he accounted for were in 2012.

The Saints also used Abdul-Quddus on special teams.

“When you watch him, he is a smart player,” Payton said of Abdul-Quddus, who missed some time in 2013 hurt. “He knows what to do. He plays well in the kicking game and then can play snaps in the base (defense).”

But, on the Saints’ defense, he had fallen behind safeties Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush; and he was cut after New Orleans’ wildcard playoff victory at Philadelphia in January, for which he was inactive.

The Lions acquired Abdul-Quddus off waivers the day after Seattle won the Super Bowl in February. Harper and Jenkins moved on to Carolina and Philadelphia, respectively; and, at safety, the Saints currently count on Vaccaro, Bush, rookie pro Vinnie Sunseri and first-year NFLer Marcus Ball. Another safety — veteran Jairus Byrd — is on season-ending injured reserve with a hurt knee.

In Detroit, which is 4-2, Abdul-Quddus has started in three games this year, filling in for injured strong safety James Ihedigbo. He has two pass break-ups and 20 tackles (10 solo) for the top-ranked defense in the NFL, and he’s recorded another two stops on special teams, indicating that the change worked out for Abdul-Quddus in the end.

Nonetheless, Abdul-Quddus told ESPN.com on Friday that he was “kind of mad” he’d been let go after a playoff win and had to fly to his home region of New York-New Jersey to speak with his mother and friends to accept what had happened was just business.

“It was weird because you know you kind of get to the playoffs and you assume everything is locked in,” Abdul-Quddus said to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “So it was kind of like a shocker. I didn’t want to take anything personal. They need to make their business moves and I know it is a business, so I didn’t really take it (personally).”

Abdul-Quddus said to Rothstein that it helped him when it his supporters pointed out that the Saints had given him his first NFL opportunity.

Set to face his old teammates and coaches, Abdul-Quddus was named captain of the Lions’ special-teams units. He’s one of several former Saints on the Lions — others include offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, running back Reggie Bush, fullback Jed Collins and running back Joique Bell.

Bush was also named a team captain. According to Rothstein, Abdul-Quddus said it was his first time being recognized as such in the NFL.

Former Saints rookie fourth-round draft pick Khairi Fortt stays in Cincinnati, joins Bengals practice squad

The Bengals on Tuesday waived former Saints fourth-round draft choice Khairi Fortt, but he won’t have to move cities.

Fortt signed with the Bengals’ practice squad on Thursday, the team announced. A rookie whom the Bengals picked up on waivers after the Saints cut him last week, Fortt was waived by Cincinnati amidst a number of personnel moves the club made on Tuesday. Teams had until the end of business Wednesday to put in a claim for him, but none did.

Fortt, who played at California, has had a bizarre first year in the NFL ever since the Saints drafted him 126th overall in May. He spent the preseason with New Orleans but hurt a hamstring in the Saints’ second exhibition after accumulating a lone tackle.

The Saints included him on their initial 53-man roster but placed him on short-term injured reserve to open a spot for veteran wide receiver Robert Meachem, who was released and re-signed by New Orleans before the start of the season.

Fortt was eligible to return to action for a Week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers. But he was waived Oct. 6 after missing at least two meetings, according to an NFL source. Fortt had told The Advocate he was disappointed to be on short-term IR after coming relatively close to playing in his first NFL game, and he said on Twitter after the Bengals acquired him Oct. 7 that he’d been healthy “for almost a month.”

Asked about Fortt on Wednesday, Saints coach Sean Payton said, “We just felt like it was in our best interest (to waive him). It didn’t work out for him. I will keep it at that.”

For the one game he was on the Bengals’ 53-man roster, Fortt was inactive, and Cincinnati (3-1-1) tied Carolina (3-2-1) at home. The Saints (2-3) host Cincinnati in Week 11.

Joe Lombardi’s Saints background made him no-brainer for Detroit’s coordinator job, Lions say

This is a 2009 photo of Joe Lombardi, then the Saints quarterback coach and now the offensive coordinator for the Lions. The Saints and the Lions play Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo)

This is a 2009 photo of Joe Lombardi, then the Saints quarterback coach and now the offensive coordinator for the Lions. The Saints and the Lions play Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo)

When Lions head coach Jim Caldwell set about hiring an offensive coordinator in January, his ideal candidate needed to possess these qualifications above all others.

He had to have a good understanding of offensive football; to have been around excellent quarterback play; and to have been in a system that utilized an array of weapons.

Joe Lombardi, the Saints’ quarterbacks coach from 2009-13, had all of that; so Caldwell didn’t hesitate to give the ex-New Orleans assistant the job of overseeing an offense counting on playmakers such as three-time First Team All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson; one-time First Team All-Pro running back Reggie Bush; and Matthew Stafford, one of five QBs to eclipse 5,000 yards passing in a season.

“The things we were looking for, … Joe met all those criteria,” said Caldwell, in his first year with the Lions (4-2), who host the Saints (2-3) at Ford Field this upcoming Sunday. “Not only that, he’s an excellent person, great teacher, and has a great presence about him.”

Lombardi, who joined the Saints in 2007 and spent two years as an offensive assistant prior to coaching the quarterbacks for five seasons, worked with Drew Brees in three of the four campaigns the Saints star has passed for 5,000+ yards.

The Saints won Super Bowl XLIV in Lombardi’s first year as QB coach. He collaborated with coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael as they rode players such as one-time First Team All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham; running back Darren Sproles, who established the NFL’s all-purpose yardage mark in 2011; and franchise record-setting receiver Marques Colston to rankings of first, sixth, first, second and fourth in yards gained from 2009-13.

“Once (the front office) decided that’s who they were bringing in, his work kind of speaks for itself, being a part of that system and how much success they have had over there in New Orleans on offense,” Stafford said in a conference call following Caldwell’s with local media Wednesday. “I kind of knew what we were getting going in.”

Lombardi’s first six games in Detroit haven’t been a carbon copy of the Saints production-wise. Stafford was passing for 265.3 yards per game as of Wednesday, putting him on pace for what would be his lowest total in that category since 2010, when he missed 10 games with a hurt shoulder. Coupled with a rushing game picking up 86.3 yards per outing, Detroit’s offense is 23rd in the NFL.

Nonetheless, Stafford has thrown just four interceptions this season, putting him on pace to toss about 11, fewer than the 19 he had last year. And limiting mistakes on offense has been enough for Lombardi and Stafford to help the Lions win this year, for the defense complementing them is allowing the fewest points, passing yards and total yards per game.

The Lions certainly have issues to resolve on offense. Among them is the fact that Stafford this season has been sacked 21 times, more than any other quarterback in the league.

But, at least until the spot the Lions were in on Wednesday is jeopardized, “he’s been great,” Stafford said of Lombardi.

Khairi Fortt’s on the waiver wire again, and other Saints tidbits

Maybe the Saints won’t be meeting their former fourth-round draft choice Khairi Fortt when they play the Bengals on Nov. 16.

Fortt — a rookie whom the Bengals picked up on waivers after the Saints cut him last week — was waived by Cincinnati amidst a number of personnel moves the club made on Tuesday, the team announced. He will again be subject to the waiver wire, where teams have until the end of business Wednesday to put in a claim for him.

Fortt, who played at California, has had a bizarre first year in the NFL ever since the Saints drafted him 126th overall in May. He spent the preseason with New Orleans but hurt a hamstring in New Orleans’ second exhibition after accumulating a lone tackle.

The Saints included him on their initial 53-man roster but placed him on short-term injured reserve to open a spot for veteran wide receiver Robert Meachem, who was released and re-signed by the team before the start of the season.

Fortt was eligible to return to action for a Week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers. But he was waived Oct. 6 after missing at least two meetings, according to an NFL source. Fortt had told The Advocate he was disappointed to be on short-term IR after coming relatively close to playing in his first NFL game, and he said on Twitter after the Bengals acquired him Oct. 7 that he’d been healthy “for almost a month.”

For the one game he was on the Bengals’ 53-man roster, Fortt was inactive, and Cincinnati (3-1-1) tied Carolina (3-2-1) at home. The Saints face Cincinnati in Week 11.

SAINTS D WANTS TO BE TRUE SELF, NOT ANYONE ELSE: At a Rotolo’s Pizzeria Literacy Program Visit at Ella C. Pittman Elementary School in Harvey on Tuesday, Saints defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was asked whether the Saints’ defense aspired to emulate that of the Lions (4-2), who are allowing the fewest points and total yards in the NFL and host New Orleans (2-3) this upcoming Sunday.

Hicks responded that all the Saints want to do is return to the form they had in 2013 and build off that.

The Saints permitted the fourth-fewest yards and points last year in the league as the Saints reached the divisional round of the playoffs. They were surrendering the NFL’s 10th-most yards per game on Tuesday.

“If we want to take a cue from anybody, we want to take a cue from what we did last year,” Hicks said. “We haven’t had the stats that we’ve wanted, but we’re looking to push in that direction.”

EVERYTHING WITHIN REACH: Though the Saints had a bye this past Sunday, they somehow still managed to stay near the top of a jumbled-up NFC South division. Carolina’s draw at Cincinnati kept the Panthers only one win ahead of the Saints, who are in second place.

Meanwhile, Atlanta (2-4) emerged from the weekend with one more loss than the Saints after losing 27-13 at home to Chicago. Tampa Bay (1-5) kept sole possession of last place after being routed 48-17 at home by Baltimore.

“Everything we are trying to obtain is still within reach,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said at the Pittman school of the team’s outlook in the NFC South. “We just have to get back on the right track and keep everything rolling from the previous week.”

Whoever clinches a division in the NFL is guaranteed at least one home playoff game. Considering the Saints didn’t win the first true road playoff game of their existence until January, winning the division is especially important for New Orleans.

The Saints lost at Atlanta, at Cleveland (3-2) and at Dallas (5-1) while winning at home against Minnesota (2-4) and Tampa Bay before having their bye this past weekend. Their triumph over Tampa Bay was their last commitment prior to the bye.

Jordan, a Pro Bowler in 2013, is tied for third on the Saints in tackles behind the line of scrimmage (two) and is first on the defensive line in passes batted down (three).

Saints work out free-agent TE Kellen Davis

Two days after Saints tight end Jimmy Graham hurt his shoulder, the team on Tuesday worked out veteran Kellen Davis, a free agent at the position, a source told The Advocate.

Davis won a Super Bowl ring with Seattle in 2013, catching three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown with the Seahawks. He was with the Giants this preseason but was cut in August.

From 2008-12, Davis was a member of the Chicago Bears, who drafted him out of Michigan State in the fifth round of his rookie season. Davis started 35 games for the Bears, 30 of which were in 2011 and 2012. He caught 47 passes for 529 yards and 11 touchdowns in Chicago. Yahoo’s Rand Getlin was the first to report Davis’ workout.

Graham was hurt in the first half of the 2-3 Saints’ 37-31 overtime win at home against Tampa Bay (1-4). An NFL Network report labeled Graham’s injury as a sprained shoulder, but coach Sean Payton refused to get into specifics about his tight end’s condition.

Aside from Davis, the Saints also worked out free-agent tight end Tom Crabtree, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Crabtree was a former Green Bay Packer and Tampa Bay Buc.

Workouts the likes of Davis’ and Crabtree’s with the Saints are routine and not necessarily indicative of anything.

Saints work out free-agent linebacker Paul Hazel, source says

Free-agent linebacker Paul Hazel visited the Saints on Tuesday for a workout, according to a league source.

Undrafted out of Western Michigan, Hazel spent 13 games with the Cleveland Browns in 2013. He had one solo tackle and assisted on three others.

Hazel also spent time with Jacksonville before joining Cleveland, and he had a spell in Houston for a bit after his stint with the Browns. However, he failed to latch on with either Jacksonville or Houston.

The Saints (2-3) hosted Hazel after linebacker Ramon Humber hurt his ankle in the first half of New Orleans’ 37-31 victory at home against Tampa Bay (1-4). Nonetheless, workouts such as Hazel’s are routine and not necessarily indicative of anything.

WVUE-TV reporter Sean Fazende first reported Hazel’s Saints workout.