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Ravens bus involved in traffic accident with no injuries in New Orleans area

A bus carrying members of the Ravens organization was in a traffic accident in the New Orleans area on Sunday, a day before the Baltimore team is supposed to play the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Ravens spokesman Chad Steele described the accident as a “small fender bender” in an email.

“Bus was not damaged, and we are pulling into the hotel now,” Steele wrote to The Advocate early Sunday evening.

Another Ravens spokesman, Patrick Gleason, said in a separate email that a team bus was rear-ended by a car at a slow speed. Neither anyone on the bus or the driver of the car that hit the bus were injured, Gleason said.

Many learned about the crash when former Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail — an analyst on the team’s radio broadcast crew — published a message on Twitter reading, “We got an accident! Bus #4 got side swiped by a car! #Ravens #NOLA.”

Ismail — who coincidentally played for the Saints in 1998 — later tweeted, “All okay! Not even a delay.”

Steele did not immediately respond to a message asking for a description of the location where the accident had occurred. Calls to various local law enforcement agencies did not immediately yield any more information, including whether anyone had been cited in the incident.

The Ravens are 6-4 heading into their match-up with the Saints (4-6).

Sunday marked the second time a crash involving an NFL team’s bus occurred. On Nov. 2, a pair of buses carrying members of Washington’s ball club collided en route to a game in Minnesota. There were no injuries in that incident either.

Note: This post was edited after it was first published to add more details, including a statement by Ravens spokesman Patrick Gleason.

Khiry Robinson, Kyle Knox out for Saints’ game against Ravens on Monday night

Saints running back Khiry Robinson will miss his fifth straight game because of a hurt forearm when the Ravens visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night.

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The 4-6 Saints on Saturday ruled out Robinson and reserve linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) with their injuries after they missed practices Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This will be the eighth game for which Knox is absent.

Wide receiver Robert Meachem — who’s missed the past three games with a hurt ankle — is questionable after being limited all week.

Among those who are probable are running back Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder), who has been out the past four games but was a limited participant in team drills all week. Other probables are running back Travaris Cadet (hamstring), linebacker Curtis Lofton (ankle), cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee), tackle Zach Strief (chest) and running back Mark Ingram (shoulder).

Lewis, Lofton and Cadet missed Thursday but were limited participants in team drills Friday and Saturday. Strief and Ingram fully practiced all week despite being listed on the injury report.

Baltimore ruled out wide receiver Michael Campanaro (thigh) and guard Jah Reid (hand). Probable despite being listed on the injury report are Ravens tight end Owen Daniels (not injury related), linebacker Daryl Smith (not injury related), fullback Kyle Jusczyk (foot), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (not injury related), linebacker Terrell Suggs (not injury related) and guard Marshal Yanda (knee).

The Ravens will arrive in New Orleans with a 6-4 record.

Jonathan Goodwin has no plans to leave the side of agent Ben Dogra, fired by CAA

New Orleans Saints center Jonathan Goodwin (55) gets set against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) ORG XMIT: OTK128

New Orleans Saints center Jonathan Goodwin (55) gets set against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) ORG XMIT: OTK128

Like the vast majority of the public, Saints center Jonathan Goodwin isn’t sure why the talent and sports agency CAA recently fired his agent, Rakshpal Ben “Ben” Dogra.

All the 13-year NFL veteran knew Friday was he had no plans to leave his professional relationship with Dogra.

“I haven’t reached out to him because I’m sure right now it’s a hectic time,” said Goodwin, who has spent six total seasons with the Saints. “But … up until this point, he’s been good to me, so I don’t see a reason right now to turn my back on him.”

Considered by Forbes to have been the seventh-most powerful agent in 2013 with almost $950 million in contracts and some $28 million in commissions, Dogra was terminated by CAA for causes that weren’t immediately specified, according to various stories published on Nov. 13. Names on the St. Louis-based superagent’s client list include A.J. Green, Robert Griffin III, Jeremy Maclin, the embattled Adrian Peterson, Richard Sherman, Mario Williams, Patrick Willis and Goodwin.

ESPN has reported that Dogra’s clients could opt to keep working with him, stay with CAA or begin the process of finding new representation. Goodwin on Friday said his intention was to stay with Dogra in part because he wasn’t too acquainted with anyone else at CAA.

“Right now, there’s no pressing need to worry about anything,” said Goodwin, who’s on a one-year playing deal with the Saints worth up to $1.02 million. “I’m sure in the offseason or later in the year, once things calm down, I’m going to try to reach out to him.”

Goodwin was in his fifth year in the NFL when he first joined the Saints in 2006. He was a starter on the Saints team that won Super Bowl XLIV and remained in New Orleans through 2010 but then went to San Francisco in 2011 for three seasons.

He appeared in three NFC title games as well as a Super Bowl with the 49ers before returning to the Saints in June as a free agent.

Goodwin this year has started eight games for the Saints (4-6). Injuries sidelined him for two games in late October and knocked him out of three other earlier contests.

The Saints and Goodwin host Baltimore (6-4) on Monday night.

Sean Payton on if he has a retirement card ready for Steve Smith: ‘It’s ready. Flowers, the whole nine’

Steve Smith has been a thorn in Sean Payton’s size for a number of years.

Formerly a member of the Carolina Panthers and now  a Baltimore Raven, the wide receiver has enjoyed considerable success against the Saints over the years, logging 99 catches, 1,493 yards and 10 touchdowns against New Orleans over 23 games.

Due to that success, one might think Payton harbors a certain level of disdain for Smith.

It’s actually the opposite.

“The good news was he left our division,” Payton said. “The bad news was we are playing him this year. I love watching him play, (and) his passion. He’s tough. There is an energy that he brings with him that is very evident just on watching the tape.  When you see him in person you feel that.”

The Saints held Smith to seven catches, 93 yards, and one touchdown in two meetings last season. It was the second of those meetings, however, when Smith caught one pass, that was the more impressive outing.

Still, Payton will not be upset when Smith decides to hang it up.

“It’s ready,” Payton said when asked if he has a retirement card ready for Smith. “Flowers, the whole nine.”

 

Ravens CB Lardarius Webb on Jimmy Graham: ‘He’s a beast. He’s a big old mismatch, like a Calvin Johnson’

It’s starting to feel like Jimmy Graham is one of the most talked-about players in the NFL.

Last week, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said the Saints tight end wouldn’t see the field in Philadelphia due to his blocking ability. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb has a different take on Graham’s abilities.

He feels Graham is one of the biggest mismatches in the NFL and compared him to an unstoppable force playing another sport.

“He’s like LeBron James playing tight end,” Webb said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “He’s a beast. He’s a big old mismatch, like a Calvin Johnson. We have to know where he is at all times and not let him break out.”

Graham caught three passes for 29 yards during last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens are hoping to take a similar approach and spotted something on film that might help Baltimore accomplish that task.

“They pressed him at the line. And they mixed up their zone and man, which you have to do against him,” Webb said. “They got a lot of pressure. They kept (quarterback Drew) Brees off-balance. They hit the quarterback.”

 

It does not appear Corey White will be moved to safety

One theory for how the Saints might fill the vacancy at free safety centered around Corey White moving from his position at cornerback.

It doesn’t appear that is going to happen — at least not for Monday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“They would have told me something already,” White said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen this week. Next week? Maybe. I don’t know.”

It would be an unorthodox way to go about filling the position, which opened up after Rafael Bush suffered a fractured fibula last week, but it wouldn’t have been completely crazy.

White came into the league as a safety and spent some time playing the position during training camp. But for now it appears that Jamarca Sanford and Pierre Warren will have first crack at the job. It’s also possible Marcus Ball, who is more of a strong safety, could figure into the mix.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro said the team used a rotation of players at the position during Thursday’s practice.

Former Saints player Steve Gleason is working on building the biggest ALS research project ever

In a story by Emily Kaplan on SI.com, former Saints player Steve Gleason talks about building the biggest ALS research project ever and his fourth year of life with the disease.

Gleason, who speaks through eye-tracking software through his computer, has given fund-raising speeches to increase money to battle the disease and is working with neuroscientists, researchers, academics and pharmaceutical companies in his efforts.

Gleason

Gleason is quoted in the story as saying: “I believe with the right amount of funding and with the right people, most things are possible. Yes, I believe there can be a treatment or cure in my lifetime.”

Here is a link to the story.

Saints sign rookie punt returner/receiver Jalen Saunders from Seattle’s practice squad

A day after placing rookie receiver/punt returner Brandin Cooks on season-ending injured reserve with a fractured thumb, the Saints on Wednesday signed rookie former fourth-round draft choice Jalen Saunders to the 53-man roster, according to an NFL source.

The Jets drafted Saunders, who returned six punts for 26 yards over three games for them. New York cut him in late September after he muffed punts in back-to-back games. He turned the ball over to the Jets’ opponent on one of the punts he muffed.

Saunders subsequently spent a total of six games in Arizona and Seattle but didn’t stick with either team or record a statistic. He was on the Seahawks’ practice squad when the Saints signed him away on Wednesday.

In a related transaction, a source said the Saints cut running back Brian Leonard, who was in New Orleans (4-6) for one game.

Saunders’ signing indicates that he could audition to handle some of the punt return duties Cooks vacated when he broke his thumb in Sunday’s loss at home against Cincinnati. And Leonard’s departure could mean Khiry Robinson or Pierre Thomas — running backs who have been out injured the past four games — may soon return to action.

The 5-foot-9, 157-pound Saunders returned 20 punts for 308 yards with two touchdowns last year in college for Oklahoma. The diminutive receiver caught 61 passes for 729 yards and eight touchdowns. He ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.44 seconds at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Saunders joins a receiver corps that includes veteran Marques Colston, second-year pro Kenny Stills (also out of Oklahoma), Robert Meachem (who’s missed a couple of games with a hurt ankle), Joseph Morgan and Nick Toon. The vast majority of the production out of that group comes from Colston (34 catches for 536 yards and a touchdown) and Stills (31 grabs for 431 yards and two TDs).

Cooks, a first-round draft selection out of Oregon State, was second on the Saints in receptions (53), receiving yards (550) and touchdown catches (three), one of which was a 50-yarder. He had also carried the ball seven times for 73 yards and another touchdown when he got hurt and was shut down for the rest of the campaign.

The Saints host Baltimore (4-6) on Monday night.

Nick Underhill contributed to this report.

This post has been updated since it was first published, mostly to add details.

Saints LB Curtis Lofton: ‘You don’t express (frustrations) to the media’

Members of the media love how frank and honest second-year Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro is with reporters.

New Orleans Saints' Curtis Lofton (50) on the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. The Saints won 28-10. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

New Orleans Saints’ Curtis Lofton (50) on the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. The Saints won 28-10. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

After a conference call Monday, it appears New Orleans linebacker Curtis Lofton is less enamored with that aspect of Vaccaro’s being.

Lofton addressed frustrations Vaccaro expressed after the Saints lost their sixth of 10 games so far this season on Sunday by a score of 27-10 at home to Cincinnati.

Among other things, Vaccaro wondered whether the Saints’ makeup was altered by the offseason departures of defensive veterans such as Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma, all owners of a championship ring from New Orleans’ victory in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010.

The “vibe,” Vaccaro said, was different on the field. To be fair, Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis communicated similar thoughts, but Lofton was asked to comment Monday on what Vaccaro had said.

Lofton remarked, “When you express your frustrations, you don’t express them to the media. You keep that in house. He’s not the only player that feels that way. There’s been numerous guys that have expressed the same feeling, but there’s a different way of doing it. That’s how it’s been handled here in the past, and that’s how it needs to be handled here in the future, too.”

To paint a complete picture of the matter, Saints coach Sean Payton weighed in as well, and he didn’t mind Vaccaro’s stance.

“When you watch that game towards the end and there was a pretty good chance the score was going to end in their favor, I love how (Vaccaro) was playing,” Payton said. “I love the attitude and the toughness he brings and the frustration that comes with it.”

Vaccaro’s and Lewis’ statements came after New Orleans’ defense — ranked 21st in the league before Monday Night Football — had let the Bengals convert 9-of-13 third-down situations, a big reason why the Saints had lost at home for the second straight week.

They’d dropped a contest to San Francisco seven days earlier after winning the previous 20 games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that Payton had coached them.

Despite the difference in opinion on venting to reporters, Lofton and Vaccaro are both among the Saints’ most productive players on defense.

A Saint since 2012, Lofton leads the team in tackles with 90 (63 solo), and he has a fumble recovery to his name this year. Vaccaro — a first-round draft selection out of Texas in 2013 — is third on the team in tackles (49 solo), and he has an interception and a quarterback sack this season.

Note: This post has been updated to include a comment from Payton. Guerry Smith contributed to this report.