Tag Archives: Falcons

Saints get acclimated for Seattle weather in chilly Metairie

As they normally do when they prepare to play a road game, the Saints practiced outdoors on their grass fields Thursday for the second time this week.

The Saints came back Tuesday following a three-day weekend for an intro to the game plan for Monday night’s game with the Seattle Seahawks and, after a day off Wednesday, worked again Thursday.

The chilly temperatures of the past few days helped get the Saints acclimated for the Seattle weather. Monday’s forecast is calling for a high of 41 degrees with the temperature dipping close to the freezing mark by the game’s end. There is a 30 percent chance of rain and snow showers.

“It was good. … In fact, the other day was probably even colder and damper,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, noting the temperature will drop into the 30s during the game. “So having that similar environment a few days ago and to some degree, cooler weather today is helpful.”

THE NOISE FACTOR: Even though he has a dome team, which sometimes has trouble in extreme weather conditions, Payton seemed almost as concerned with the noise that the Saints will contend with in CenturyLink Field.

Playing in arguably the loudest venue in the NFL, the Seahawks have a sparkling 64-29 record at home since moving to the NFC when the league realigned in 2002.

“Getting the crowd noise work done is critical as well (as the weather) because the communication and the ability to focus with all those other things going on is where you are challenged,” Payton said.

PRACTICE REPORT: Having a weekend off to heal up after their 17-13 win against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 21 helped shrink their list of injured players.

The only player who didn’t participate in practice was defensive end Glenn Foster, who hurt his knee in the second half against the Falcons.

CB Chris Carr (hip/hamstring) was limited, while G Jahri Evans (ankle) and RB Darren Sproles (ankle) had full participation after missing the Falcons’ game.

The Seahawks were given the day off for Thanksgiving, but WR Percy Harvin (hip) and CB Brandon Browner (groin) would have been out, while RB Marshawn Lynch (knee) would have been limited according to coach Pete Carroll.

THANKUL TO BE BACK: When asked what he was thankful for on Thanksgiving, Payton cited being back with his team after serving a season-long suspension in 2012 as the No. 1 thing.

“I am thankful for these players. I’m thankful for you guys, all that cover us on a regular basis … and I mean that,” Payton said. “The biggest thing, and I told our team, when you are away a year it’s not the ancillary things, but it is the interaction that you have as a team.

“I think it is a close group. Obviously, there are a lot of changes every year, but that is the thing I am thankful for — this family, my immediate family, also with my children. That’s why I liked practicing today.”

WINNING SEASON CLINCHED: The Saints are looking for a lot more in the final five games of the season after clinching the franchise’s 12th winning season with the victory over the Falcons last week.

It was Payton’s fifth winning season in seven years (2006, ’09, ’10, ’11 and ’13), tying him with Jim Mora (1987, ’88, ’89, ’91 and ’92) for the most in franchise history. Jim Haslett had the other two (2000 and ’02).

Saints DE Cameron Jordan leads sack parade

With 37 sacks in 11 games, the Saints’ defense has already surpassed its total of all last season — by seven — heading into Monday night’s showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.

One of the main reasons for the improved pass rush under first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been defensive end Cameron Jordan, who is having a Pro Bowl-type year with a team-leading 9 1/2 sacks.

Jordan is second in the NFC (St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn has 13) and seventh in the entire NFL going into Monday night’s game.

Jordan, a first-round draft pick in 2011, had eight sacks to lead the Saints a year ago when they finished with only 30. This year, he’s been an integral part of an aggressive defense that ranks fifth in the NFL in fewest yards and points allowed — helping the Saints to a 9-2 record.

Jordan had 2 1/2 sacks of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in a 17-13 victory Thursday night and his total of 9 1/2 in 11 games, despite playing on a sore ankle for several weeks, is more than he had in his first two seasons.

“Last year, he was one of those guys that jumped off the tape when you watched him,” said free safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the team’s defensive captains. “His effort is phenomenal, and that was the biggest thing we saw last year — his effort to the ball every play.

“He’s one of those linemen that can play literally every down of the game and not be tired.”

PILING THEM UP: With Jordan having 9 1/2 sacks and outside linebacker Junior Galette collecting a career-high six, the Saints are averaging 3.4 per game.

Their 37 sacks has them tied for the league lead with four other teams — Baltimore, Buffalo, Kansas City and Green Bay — going into this week’s games.

The Saints, who finished last in the NFL in total defense last season, tied for 25th in sacks with only 30 en route to a 7-9 record.

SORRY TO SEE IT GO: After dropping a 26-20 decision to the New York Jets on Nov. 3, the Saints won their final three games of the month — defeating the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Falcons in a 12-day span.

Counting their 3-1 mark this month, the Saints have won 19 of the past 23 games they played in November dating to the 2008 season. They were 5-0 in 2009 and 3-0 in both 2010 and ’11.

BACK TO WORK: After having Saturday through Monday off following Thursday night’s win against the Falcons, the Saints returned to work Tuesday for what coach Sean Payton calls a “bonus” practice.

The practice gave them a chance to get a head start on Monday night’s opponent. They’ll be off again Wednesday and come back Thursday for the first of three workouts before making the long trip to Seattle on Saturday evening.

SPREADING IT AROUND: When Saints quarterback Drew Brees fired a 3-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Josh Hill, it wasn’t only the first scoring grab of Hill’s young career.

It added yet another name to the list of players Brees, who has 272 TDs since signing with the Saints in 2006, has thrown a scoring pass to in his 13-year career.

He’s now connected with 30 different Saints players — and 45 receivers in all when you count his first five seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

TURNOVER-FREE: It almost went unnoticed because it was a night game, but the Saints did not turn the ball over in the win against the Falcons.

The Saints are now 3-0 this season when they don’t give the ball away. That pushes their record since Payton became coach in 2006 to 25-1 in the regular season and 27-1 — counting the playoffs — when they play error-free ball.

Saints’ Brees now fifth on NFL list for career passing yards

ATLANTA — With his sixth completion of Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons, Saints quarterback Drew Brees moved into fifth place on the NFL’s career passing yards list.

Brees began the night needing just 38 yards to pass Hall of Famer Warren Moon’s total of 49,325. Brees shot past Moon on an 18-yard swing pass to running back Pierre Thomas on the Saints’ second possession, which eventually produced their first touchdown.

Brees finished with 278 yards and now has 49,566 yards for his 13-year career. He trails only Brett Favre (71,838), Dan Marino (61,361), Peyton Manning (60,957) and John Elway (51,475) on the league’s all-time list.

DEJA DUNK: As he does after each of his touchdowns, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, a former college basketball player, dunked the ball over the crossbar to celebrate a 44-yard scoring catch in the second quarter.

The problem was Graham pulled himself up on the crossbar, causing it to lean to one side. There was a two-minute delay as workers came out with a ladder and level and scrambled to get the crossbar back in place for Garrett Hartley’s extra-point attempt.

Graham did the same thing after a 21-yard TD in the same end zone in 2011 against the Falcons when his two-handed stuff wobbled the crossbar before it leaned to one side.

EVANS, SPROLES OUT: Right guard Jahri Evans and running back Darren Sproles topped the list of Saints’ inactives for Thursday night’s game.

Evans has an ankle injury and Sproles has been bothered by ankle and knee problems. Both missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday as the Saints dealt with a short week following Sunday’s win against the San Francisco 49ers.

It’s the second time Evans, an eight-year veteran, missed a game this season. In Week 3, he dressed out but did not play because of a hamstring injury. Prior to that, he had played in 122 games in a row — 114 in the regular season.

Undrafted rookie Tim Lelito started in Evans’ place as he did in the Week 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

INACTIVES: Other inactives for the Saints were DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), WR Nick Toon, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin. Wade was signed by the team on Tuesday.

The Falcons’ inactives were DE Malliciah Goodman (calf), RB Josh Vaughan, S Kemal Ishmael, LB Omar Gaither, WR Brian Robiskie, T Sean Locklear and G Harland Gunn.

INJURIES: Saints DT Glenn Foster left the game in the third quarter with an injury to his left leg. … Falcons CB Desmond Trufant suffered a thigh injury in the second quarter, but returned in the second half.

WATSON’S BACK: Sants tight end Benjamin Watson, who missed Sunday’s game with a concussion, was back and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brees to cap the Saints’ second drive of the game.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was also sidelined for last week’s game after suffering a concussion on Nov. 10, returned and started.

ROBISKIE REUNION: Brian Robiskie is the son of Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, the former LSU running back.

Terry Robiskie, who’s been with the Falcons since 2008, is in his 32nd season as an NFL coach. Brian Robiskie was signed by the Falcon on Oct. 10 following a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones.

GLEASON PROFILED: The NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series “A Football Life” will spotlight former Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason on Tuesday night.

The show, which will focus on Gleason’s playing career and his nearly three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will air at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday with an encore showing at 10 p.m. A special half-hour “A Football Life: Backstory,” also about Gleason, will air at 9 p.m.

LAGNIAPPE: Graham’s touchdown was his 11th of the season, tying his career high that he set in 2011. … Prior to Watson’s first-quarter touchdown, the Falcons had allowed just 16 points in the opening period of their first 10 games. … Saints strong safety Roman Harper, who missed seven games with a knee injury before returning last Sunday, started for the first time since a Week 2 game at Tampa Bay. … Thomas’ 18-yard run in the third quarter was his longest rush of the season by 5 yards.

Saints’ Evans, Sproles among inactives for game with Falcons

ATLANTA – Saints guard Jahri Evans and running back Darren Sproles are among the team’s inactives for tonight’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Evans has an ankle injury and Sproles has ankle and knee injuries. Both players missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Saints dealt with a short week following Sunday’s 23-20 win against the San Francisco 49ers.

It’s the second time that Evans has missed a game this season. In Week 3, he dressed out but did not play because of a hamstring injury. Until then he had played in 122 consecutive games — 114 of them in the regular season.

Rookie Tim Lelito will start in Evans’ place as he did in the Week 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Saints’ other inactives are DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), WR Nick Toon, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin.

The Falcons’ inactives are DE Malliciah Goodman (calf), RB Josh Vaughan, S Kemal Ishmael, LB Omar Gaither, WR Brian Robiskie, T Sean Locklear and G Harland Gunn.

Saints starting guards among nine questionable for Thursday

Saints starting guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs were listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons on the final injury report released Wednesday afternoon.

Evans hasn’t practiced this week because of an ankle injury, while Grubbs had limited participation in the team’s two workouts with a neck problem.

Running back Darren Sproles also missed both practices with knee and ankle injuries and is listed as questionable.

The Saints’ complete injury report and game status:

QUESTIONABLE: G Jahri Evans (ankle), G Ben Grubbs (neck), RB Darren Sproles (knee/ankle), S Kenny Vaccaro (concussion), TE Benjamin Watson (concussion), DE Akiem Hicks (back), CB Chris Carr (hip/back/hamstring), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), CB Rod Sweeting (hip).

PROBABLE: DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle), TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot), G Tim Lelito (not injury related).

The Falcons’ injury report:

OUT: DE Malliciah Goodman (calf).

QUESTIONABLE: DT Jonathan Babineaux (triceps), TE Tony Gonzalez (toe), S Zeke Motta (hand), QB Dominique Davis (knee).

PROBABLE: T Jeremy Trueblood (knee/hip), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (ankle), DT Peria Jerry (shoulder), LB Paul Worrilow (shoulder).

Saints officially put CB Greer on injured reserve

The Saints put cornerback Jabari Greer on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season after he tore the ACL in his left knee in Sunday’s 23-20 win against the San Francisco 49ers.

Greer was injured midway through the first quarter when he came down awkwardly on his left leg while trying to break up a deep pass for 49ers wide receiver Jon Baldwin.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Greer, a 10-year veteran, met with doctors on Monday and will have surgery soon. He’ll be replaced in the starting lineup by second-year pro Corey White, who had an interception and a fumble on the same play Sunday after Greer was hurt.

“It’s obviously a setback … tough for our team and tough for him,” Payton said of Greer after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s been playing very well.”

The Saints’ defense ranks third in the NFL against the pass this season in allowing just 191.4 yards per game.

The Saints signed cornerback Trevin Wade, a seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012, to take Greer’s roster spot. Wade played in 11 games last season, but was cut during training camp this summer.

BREES-BROOKS CONTROVERSY: Former NFL linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Ray Lewis were among the players who came to the aid of 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks after he was called for a personal foul penalty against Drew Brees on Sunday.

As the Saints tried to get into position for a game-tying field goal with just more than three minutes left, Brooks barged into the backfield and struck Brees in the neck with a forearm. Brees fumbled and the 49ers recovered, but the Saints retained possession when referee Tony Corrente flagged Brooks.

Lewis, a former All-Pro who now works for ESPN, said he’ll pay part of Brooks’ fine if he’s disciplined by the NFL for a hit to the neck and head area of a defenseless player. Bruschi, who is also an ESPN analyst, urged Brees to “get tough.”

Brees, who described the hit as a clothes-line tackle, got off the turf with a bloodied lip. Brooks claimed Brees “ducked his shoulder” at the last second as he was trying to knock the ball out of his hand.

“I don’t think what Ahmad Brooks did was intentional at all,” Brees said. “I think he’s a heck of a football player and a clean football player. … A hard-nosed, clean football player.

“You can slow (the replay) down all you want and watch it and say, ‘Look where the arm is,’” he added. “But I can tell you how I felt when I got hit. It felt like I got my head ripped off. I get up and I’ve got a mouth full of blood. There was no doubt in my mind it was going to be a penalty, but it is hard.”

PRACTICE REPORT: After being sidelined for practice and the game against the 49ers with concussions, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro and tight end Benjamin Watson returned to work Tuesday.

Even though both were limited, it was more than they did all last week.

The only Saints who didn’t practice were G Jahri Evans (ankle) and RB Darren Sproles (knee/ankle).

DE Cameron Jordan (ankle), LB Curtis Lofton (hamstring/ankle), TE Jimmy Graham (elbow/foot), G Ben Grubbs (neck), DE Akiem Hicks (back), CB Chris Carr (hip/back/hamstring), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee) and CB Rod Sweeting (hip) were limited along with Vaccaro and Watson.

BUTLER PRACTICES: Saints outside linebacker Victor Butler, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list after having surgery on a torn ACL in June, returned to practice Tuesday.

According to NFL rules, Tuesday was the last day Butler could return to practice and be activated this season. The Saints have 21 days in which to put him on the active roster or injured reserve — or release him.

“We’ll kind of see each week, practice by practice, how he’s doing,” Payton said. “It was good to see him out there.”

GONZALEZ SITS OUT: For the Falcons, TE Tony Gonzalez (toe) and DE Malliciah Goodman (calf) did not practice Tuesday.

Among the players who had limited participation were DT Jonathan Babineaux (triceps), DT Peria Jerry (shoulder), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (ankle), T Jeremy Trueblood (knee/hip) and LB Paul Worrilow (shoulder).

SAINTS FEATURED: The Saints-49ers game will be featured on NBCSN’s weekly NFL Turning Point show at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

The show will examine how the Saints’ defense stopped the 49ers on third down and limited the Niners’ potent running game to just 81 yards and an average of 3.7 yards per attempt — as well as Brooks’ crucial penalty.

Saints rise to fourth in total defense in latest NFL stats

After holding their opponent to fewer than 200 yards for the second week in a row, the Saints’ defense moved up three more spots to fourth in total yards allowed in the updated NFL stats.

The Saints held the San Francisco 49ers to 196 total yards after giving up 191 in their previous game against the Dallas Cowboys and soared from seventh to fourth.

The Saints, who were allowing 333.1 yards per game just two weeks ago following a 26-20 loss to the New York Jets, are giving up 305.4 yards a game.

They also moved up six spots in rushing defense from 23rd to 17th after limiting the 49ers to 81 yards, dropping their average this season to 114.0 yards per game. They remained third in passing defense at 191.4 yards per game and are still fifth in scoring defense in allowing 18.3 points a game.

Offensively, the Saints remained in the same spot in four major categories — second in total yards (419.1), passing (321.9) and scoring (28.8) and 23rd in rushing (97.2).

Here are the pertinent numbers for Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome:

SAINTS (8-2)

Offense: Total yards, 419.1 (2); rushing, 97.2 (23); passing, 321.9 (2); scoring, 28.8 (2).

Defense: Total yards, 305.4 (4); rushing, 114.0 (17); passing, 191.4 (3); scoring, 18.3 (5).

Turnover differential: Plus-3 (t12)/13 giveaways (8 interceptions, 5 fumbles), 16 takeaways (10 interceptions, 6 fumble recoveries).

FALCONS (2-8)

Offense: Total yards, 347.5 (14); rushing, 73.1 (31); passing, 274.4 (6); scoring, 21.4 (t22).

Defense: Total yards, 381.9 (26); rushing, 132.7 (30); passing, 249.2 (22); scoring, 29.2 (29).

Turnover differential: Minus-11 (t29)/19 giveaways (12 interceptions, 7 fumbles), 8 takeaways (6 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries).

Saints’ Payton returning to scene of sideline accident

After his season-long suspension a year ago, Saints coach Sean Payton will be walking the sideline in Raymond James Stadium on Sunday for the first time since fracturing his leg there in an Oct. 16, 2011 game with the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Payton had to undergo surgery after he fractured his leg and tore the medial collateral ligament in a sideline collision with three players — including Saints tight end Jimmy Graham — on the third play of that game.

Payton’s leg was pinned underneath Graham when he and two Bucs defenders all rolled out of bounds after a catch by Graham.

Payton tried to call plays from the bench while watching the game on the stadium’s Jumbotron for the remainder of the first half, which quarterback Drew Brees said was challenging, and eventually turned the duties over to offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.

Brees said he can now chuckle about what happened when Payton tried to call plays off what he was seeing on the Jumbotron rather than from his usual spot on the sideline.

“I haven’t even thought about that to be honest with you, the fact that we are going back to Tampa — the scene of the crime,” Brees said Wednesday. “He was in extreme pain and he goes over where the offensive linemen sit and he’s sitting with his leg propped up calling plays from the Jumbotron.

“All of a sudden, the field flips and we are no longer going the way he was looking. So as he’s looking at the hashes everything is flipped around. There were times when he would start a play and it was the wrong hash and I’d flip it. But he hung in there as long as he could to stay with us.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Five players did not participate Thursday as the Saints continued to prepare for Sunday’s game.

Not working for the second day in a row were DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle). DE Glenn Foster (ankle) and CB Corey White (illness) were also out.

Limited were LB Curtis Lofton (knee), CB Jabari Greer (back) and CB Patrick Robinson (foot), while LB Martez Wilson (elbow) and LB Junior Galette (hamstring) were among those practicing fully.

ADAMS OUT: Bucs cornerback Michael Adams, a former UL-Lafayette standout, did not practice Thursday and was listed as out by coach Greg Schiano.

Also not practicing was TE Tom Crabtree (ankle), while G Carl Nicks and DE Adrian Clayborn (hip) had limited participation.

HITTING A HUNDRED: The 23-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday was the 100th as an NFL starting quarterback for Brees.

Brees, who is in his 13th season, is now 100-70 as a starter with the Saints and San Diego Chargers. Brees was 30-28 with the Chargers and is 70-42 with the Saints in the regular season.

JUMPING VINNY: With 357 yards against the Falcons, Brees now has 46,276 passing yards in his career — moving him past Vinny Testaverde (46,233) and into seventh place on the league’s all-time list.

In two or three games, Brees will pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who piled up 47,003 yards in his career, and into sixth on the all-time list.

THOMAS’ MILESTONE: Saints running back Pierre Thomas went over the 3,000-yard mark in rushing for his career in Sunday’s game against the Falcons when he picked up 43 yards on nine carries.

Thomas, a seven-year veteran who made the team as an undrafted free agent, now has 3,017 rushing yards for his career. That has him in seventh place on the club’s all-time list, just 113 yards behind Ricky Williams (3,129).

VACCARO DRAWS FINE: Even though it won’t officially be announced until Friday, Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro was fined by the NFL for his late hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Sunday’s game.

Ryan scrambled for a first down in the first quarter and was in the process of sliding to the turf when Vaccaro came up and made the hit. Vaccaro was fined $7,875 by the league.

Saints’ Payton credits Falcons’ defense with stopping run

Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that at least part of his team’s inability to run the ball effectively during Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons can be attributed to the Falcons’ defense.

Even though they won 23-17, the Saints’ halfback rotation of Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles netted just 78 yards and a 2.7 average on 29 carries after they averaged just 98.6 yards a year ago. Ingram, a third-year pro, was held to 11 yards on nine attempts.

“We had some tough looks,” Payton said of the Falcons’ defense. “I think, by and large, that’s something we talked about just improving on in general. I wouldn’t point at one player.

“More than anything else, there were some plays there where we had some decent gains and some plays that weren’t as good. That’s something we’ll continue to work on.”

On Tuesday, Payton was asked during an appearance on Pro Football Talk Live if the low numbers are a reflection on Ingram or the rushing game in general.

“It’s a good question because we try to look at that and make sure that, ‘Hey, is this the right play or player?’” Payton said. ‘“Did he have a chance?’ One weak-side lead play, he slips on the turf and gets a minus-2 where we think it’s well blocked.

“So that’s something I’m sure he’s frustrated with. Then, there’s a  run or two where it’s tough for any of our backs.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE: It was only one game, but the Saints have something different to show for their efforts on defense against one of the better offenses in the NFL in Sunday’s win against the Falcons.

After giving up an NFL single-season record 7,042 yards and allowing 440.1 yards per game last season, the Saints gave up just 367 yards to the Falcons.

That ranks them 18th in the league after one week. They’re also 19th against the run and 20th against the pass after giving up 88 and 279 yards, respectively, Sunday.

BUCS’ NICKS RETURNS: Carl Nicks, a former Saints’ All-Pro guard who missed the season opener with a staph infection in his foot, had limited participation in Wednesday’s practice for the first time since contracting the infection in August.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano said he doesn’t know when Nicks will return to the lineup after missing the second half of last season with a toe injury.

“He did some things, so that’s good … that’s more than he has done,” Schiano said. “This is really going to play out as a day-to-day thing. We’ll figure it out at the end of the week.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Only three players didn’t participate for the Saints in Wednesday’s practice as DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle) were held out.

Walker and Bunkley were both injured in Sunday’s game.

LB Curtis Lofton (knee), CB Jabari Greer (back), CB Patrick Robinson (foot) and DE Glenn Foster (ankle) all had limited participation.

For the Bucs, CB Michael Adams (knee) and TE Tom Crabtree (ankle) did not work, while Nicks, CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring) and RB Erik Long (calf) were limited.

OLSEN WAIVED: The Saints reached an injury settlement with guard/center Eric Olsen, who had a foot injury in the preseason, and waived him after he was put on injured reserve on Aug. 31.

Olsen was signed by the Saints at the end of the 2011 season and played in all 16 games a year ago. He made four starts while lining up extensively as an extra tight end, but played mostly on special teams.

Saints show improvement in NFL defensive stats

Saints’ fans still celebrating a season-opening 23-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday have something else to smile about: the Saints aren’t last in the NFL in total defense.

In fact, they’re far from it.

After a disastrous 2012 season in which the Saints set an NFL record in allowing 7,042 total yards and finishing last among the 32 teams against the run and 31st against the pass, there were some positive results from new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s group on Sunday.

According to NFL Week 1 stats, the Saints rank 18th in total defense after giving up 367 yards to the potent Falcons’ offense. They’re 19th against the run and 20th against the pass after giving up 88 and 279 yards, respectively, in those categories Sunday.

The Saints’ defense is also tied for seventh in points allowed and is tied for ninth with three sacks, two areas in which they also ranked near the bottom of the league a year ago.

On offense, the Saints are eighth in total yards after piling up 419 against the Falcons. They’re fifth in passing after picking up 341 yards and 19th in rushing after netting 78 yards in the season-opening victory.

Also, the Saints are tied for ninth at plus-1 in the giveaway-takeaway differential.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Sunday’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Bucs in Raymond James Stadium (NFL rank in parentheses):

SAINTS

Offense: Total yards, 419.0 (8); rushing, 78.0 (19); passing, 341.0 (5); scoring, 23.0 (t17).

Defense: Total yards, 367.0 (18); rushing, 88.0 (19); passing, 279.0 (20); scoring, 17.0 (t7).

BUCCANEERS

Offense: Total yards, 250.0 (29); rushing, 65.0 (t24); passing, 185.0 (23); scoring, 17.0 (t24).

Defense: Total yards, 304.0 (12); rushing, 90.0 (t26); passing, 214.0 (12); scoring, 18.0 (10).