Tag Archives: #NFL

Saints lose offensive line coach Kromer to Bears

When he returns to work, likely the day after Super Bowl XLVII, suspended Saints coach Sean Payton will have to start by filling in at least one hole in his coaching staff.

Saints offensive line coach/running game coordinator Aaron Kromer on Wednesday joined the staff of new Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman, whose hiring was announced earlier that morning.

Kromer, who’ll be the Bears’ offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, and Trestman worked together with the Oakland Raiders from 2001-03 when Trestman was the offensive coordinator there.

Kromer posted a 2-4 record as the Saints interim coach when interim coach Joe Vitt was serving a bounty suspension for the first six games of the season. Kromer joined Payton’s staff in 2008.

After coaching running backs in 2008, Kromer took over the offensive line in 2009. That year, he coached a group that won the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award as the league’s top offensive line when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. They also won the Madden Award in 2011.

In his time working with the offensive line, Kromer had two players — guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks — named first-team All-Pro with Evans earning that honor this season for the fourth straight time.

Kromer also had five Pro Bowl players — Evans, Nicks, center Jonathan Goodwin, and tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jon Stinchcomb — with nine invites between them from 2009-12.

Saints’ offense led NFL in big plays, long touchdown drives

The Saints didn’t set an NFL record for most total yards as they did in 2011, but they did lead the league in long touchdown drives for the second year in a row.

The Saints had 29 touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer in their 7-9 season, with the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions tying for second with 25 each. The Saints had 28 drives of that length that results in TDs in 2011.

Drew Brees and his offensive teammates also led the NFL in big plays, which is defined as a run or pass of 20 yards or longer, and in big passes.

They had a total of 76 big plays, one more than the Carolina Panthers, and 65 big passes, one more than the Indianapolis Colts.

SAINTS HONOR MOORE: Wide receiver Lance Moore has been chosen the Saints 2012 Man of the Year, which makes him a candidate for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

The Man of the Year Award is given to one player from each league team for volunteerism and charity work as well as excellence on the field. From the 32 team winners, three players will be chosen as finalists for the Walter Payton Award — which will be presented during Super Bowl week.

Since joining the Saints as a free agent, the seven-year veteran has been an asset in the New Orleans area and Gulf Coast through numerous endeavors — most notably the Lance Moore Community Cares Program.

The program helps people help themselves and those around them with the goal of leading productive and satisfying lives while serving disadvantaged children and families in need of financial and educational assistance.

MORSTEAD SETS CLUB MARK: Punter Thomas Morstead, a four-year veteran, fell short of setting the NFL season record for net punting average in the season finale, but finished with a franchise-record gross average of 50.1 yards per punt.

Morstead is one of only seven punters in NFL history to average at least 50 yards per kick for an entire season. One of the others, Miami’s Brandon Fields, edged Morstead for the league title at 50.2 yards per punt.

Morstead, who will be the NFC punter in the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27, is only the third Saints’ punter to earn a spot in the all-star game. The others were Brian Hansen (1984) and Mitch Berger (2004).

BREES UP FOR HONOR: Saints quarterback Drew Brees is one of five finalists for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year Award for 2012.

Brees earned a spot as a finalist for his Week 5 performance in a 31-24 win over the San Diego Chargers when he broke the NFL record of Johnny Unitas with at least one touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games.

Unitas held the record of 47 games in a row with at least one TD for more than half a century until Brees set the mark with a 40-yard scoring pass to former LSU standout Devery Henderson in the first quarter.

Fans can vote online at https://www.nfl.com/gmc until Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. to determine the winner, which will be announced during the NFL Honors awards special on Feb. 2 — the night before Super Bowl XLVII.

STRIEF A ‘GOOD GUY’: Tackle Zach Strief is this year’s winner of the Jim Finks Good Guy Award, which is presented to a Saints’ player by members of the New Orleans chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

The award is given to a player for media cooperation throughout the season. In a vote of reporters who cover the team, Strief, who’s always accessible in the locker room and provides thoughtful and insightful answers to questions, outdistanced tackle Jermon Bushrod and linebacker Curtis Lofton for the honor.

The award is named for former Saints General Manager Jim Finks. Prior to his death in 1994, Finks was Finks was known around the league for his cooperation with the media.

Saints to have 15th pick in first round of NFL draft

The Saints are scheduled to have a pick in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft this spring for the first time since 2009 when they select 15th.

The Saints, who finished 7-9 this season, were in a five-way tie for the 11th-worst mark in the league. But they were pushed to the bottom of that group — which also includes San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay and Carolina — on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.

Saints’ opponents this season posted a 133-122-1 record for a .521 winning percentage.

San Diego (.457 opponents’ winning percentage) got the 11th pick, followed by Miami (.500), Tampa Bay (.502) and Carolina (.516).

The Saints’ last pick in the top half of the first round was free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was taken with the 14th overall selection in 2009 after the Saints went 8-8 in 2008.

The draft will be held April 25-27 in New York City.

SAINTS SIGN FIVE: The Saints have signed five players who finished the season on their practice squad to futures contracts.

All five — defensive end Braylon Broughton, wide receivers Jarred Fayson and Andy Tanner, guard Ryan Lee and cornerback Ryan Steed — were signed to two-year deals.

CALENDAR UPDATED: The NFL has released an updated calendar for the 2013 league year, which will begin on Tuesday, March 12 at 3 p.m. CST with the start of veteran free agency.

For the first time, at least officially anyway, teams will have a three-day window from March 9-11 in which they can negotiate with certified agents of players who will be unrestricted free agents.

Other key dates are the deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the draft (Jan. 15), the scouting combine (Feb. 20-26) and the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents (March 12).

Saints to pick 15th in first round of NFL draft this spring

The Saints are scheduled to have a pick in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft this spring for the first time since 2009 when they select 15th.

The Saints, who finished 7-9 this season, were in a five-way tie for the 11th-worst mark in the league. But they were pushed to the bottom of that group — which also includes San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay and Carolina — on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.

Saints’ opponents this season posted a 133-122-1 record for a .521 winning percentage.

San Diego (.457 opponents’ winning percentage) got the 11th pick, followed by Miami (.500), Tampa Bay (.502) and Carolina (.516).

The Saints’ last pick in the top half of the first round was free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was taken with the 14th overall selection in 2009 after the Saints went 8-8 in 2008.

The draft will be held April 25-27 in New York City.

Panthers sack leader Hardy inactive for game with Saints

NEW ORLEANS — Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, who has a team-leading 11 sacks, is inactive for today’s game with the Saints.

Hardy was absent from practice all week while dealing with a family matter, and, according to the Charlotte Observer, was told by team officials to take as much time as he needed.

Hardy did not accompany the team to New Orleans on Saturday.

His spot in the starting lineup could be taken by Southern Lab graduate Frank Alexander, a rookie who played his college ball at Oklahoma. Alexander started two games earlier this season.

PANTHERS INACTIVES: The other inactives are RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), C Geoff Hangartner (foot), WR Joe Adams (ankle), LB James Anderson (back) and QB Jimmy Clausen.

SAINTS INACTIVES: Not dressing Sunday for the Saints are CB Jabari Greer (concussion), DT Akiem Hicks (knee), LB Scott Shanle, TE Michael Higgins, DT Tyrunn Walker, G Ricky Henry and WR Saalim Hakim.

Saints officially announce contract agreement with Payton

The Saints officially announced Saturday that coach Sean Payton has agreed to a multiyear contract extension to return following the completion of his season-long bounty-related suspension.

ESPN, citing a league source, reported Payton’s five-year contract extension is expected to pay him more than $8 million annually — which should make him the NFL’s highest paid coach.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed Friday evening that Payton agreed in principle to an extension after the original extension he had received in September 2011 was voided by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell because of wording in the contract.

“I am pleased that Sean Payton will be our head coach for a long time,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a team news release. “Now we can focus our attention on building on the winning tradition with the Saints that Sean has played such a large role in.”

COLSTON CLOSING IN: Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, who on Nov. 25 became the team’s all-time leader with the 56th touchdown of his career, can set another club mark in Sunday’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers in the Superdome.

Colston, a seventh-round draft pick and the 252nd overall selection in 2006, needs just six catches to break the franchise record for career receptions.

He moved into second place with 10 catches in last week’s win at Dallas, bringing his total to 527.

The Saints’ all-time leader is former LSU star Eric Martin, who had 532 receptions from 1985-93.

“He is Mr. Dependable, Mr. Steady,” quarterback Drew Brees said of Colston, a seven-year veteran. “When you need a play, I know I can always count on him.

“He’s really fought through a lot throughout his career, especially this year, just battling injuries and always being there, always being present, always being ready, always being a guy you can count on.”

THOMAS GOES ON IR: The Saints put running back Pierre Thomas, who had been ruled out Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, on injured reserve.

Thomas finishes the season with 473 rushing yards, second on the team behind Mark Ingram, and is also fifth in receiving with 39 catches for 354 yards. He had one touchdown rushing and one receiving.

To take Thomas’ spot on the active roster, the Saints promoted cornerback A.J. Davis from the practice squad.

PATERNOSTRO DIES: Former Saints strength and conditioning Russell Paternostro, a New Orleans-area native, died Friday of respiratory complications at St. Tammany Hospital.

Paternostro, 74, was the Saints strength coach from 1981 to 1996. A popular member of the coaching staff with the players, he served under head coaches Bum Phillips and Jim Mora.

HORNETS TO APPEAR: New Orleans Hornets players Anthony Davis, Greivis Vasquez and Lance Thomas will sign autographs before Sunday’s game from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on the southeast side of the Superdome on the Plaza level.

Saints, Payton agree in principle on five-year contract

While Saints’ fans won’t be seeing their favorite team in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they did get something to be happy about Friday night.

ESPN and Fox Sports reported that coach Sean Payton, who fans feared might leave to join the Dallas Cowboys after the contract extension he received in September 2011 was rejected by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, has agreed in principle to a new deal to remain with the Saints.

Citing league sources, ESPN and Fox reported that the Saints and Payton, who is eligible to return from a season-long bounty-related suspension after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, had worked out a new contract.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed the extension for Payton via email to The Advocate early Friday evening.

While there were few details about the extension, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that it was a five-year contract.

Saints’ Greer, Thomas to miss season finale with Panthers

Starting cornerback Jabari Greer and running back Pierre Thomas are among three Saints who won’t play in Sunday’s season finale with the Carolina Panthers because of injuries.

Greer suffered a concussion and Thomas injured a knee in last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys and weren’t able to practice all week as the Saints (7-8) prepared for the Panthers (6-9).

Saints interim coach Joe Vitt also ruled out defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who came out of the Cowboys game with a knee injury.

Here is the final injury report turned in to the league office by Vitt and Panthers coach Ron Rivera:


Out — CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee), DT Akiem Hicks (knee).

Probable — TE Jimmy Graham (wrist/finger), FB Jed Collins (knee), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring).


Questionable — RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), C Geoff Hangartner (foot), LB James Anderson (back), WR Joe Adams (ankle).

Probable — DE Greg Hardy (not injury-related), WR Brandon LaFell (toe).

Saints’ Morstead eyeing NFL net punting record for season

Over the past seven seasons, the Saints have set numerous NFL records with most of them being produced by a prolific offense led by coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.

On Sunday, however, punter Thomas Morstead can chalk one up for the special teams when the Saints close the season against the Carolina Panthers.

Barring a long return by the Panthers, Morstead will set an NFL single-season record for net average. The four-year veteran, who Wednesday was voted to the Pro Bowl, is averaging 44.4 net yards and could erase the record of 43.99 set last season by San Francisco’s Andy Lee.

“We’ve had a lot of guys set records here such as Drew, Jimmy (Graham), Marques Colston,” special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said. “We’ve had guys who have done great things, but it’s all within the context of the team.

“It would be a great tribute to our team and the guys who are out there with him (to get the record),” he added. “Thomas would be the first guy to tell you it’s a team type of goal. It’s something you would like to achieve.”

Morstead, who leads the league in gross average as well at 50.5 yards per kick, has averaged better than 50 yards in 10 of 15 games this season and averaged 49.7 and 49.3 in two others.

EVANS PRAISED: Guard Jahri Evans, the Saints’ only other Pro Bowl pick, received high praise from interim coach Joe Vitt after being voted to the all-star game for the fourth consecutive season.

“He kind of reminds me of (former Kansas City Chiefs’ star) Will Shields, who I think will be the next guard that goes into the Hall of Fame,” Vitt said. “Jahri has that chance now with the numbers he’s put up and the work habits he has. He’s such a stable person. He knows what he has to do to get better.

“He’s not going to miss a game, not unless he’s in the hospital,” Vitt said of Evans, a three-time All-Pro pick who’s played in 119 consecutive games since being chosen in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. “He’s not going to miss a game.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Fullback Jed Collins, who sat out Wednesday’s practice because of a knee injury, had full participation in Thursday’s workout.

CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee) and DT Akiem Hicks (knee) did not practice again and will likely be questionable at best for Sunday’s game.

For the Panthers, DE Greg Hardy (not injury-related), C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) did not practice.

Former LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) had full participation Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

TWO IN A ROW?: The Saints are 1-5 in regular-season finales since Payton took over in 2006.

They dropped their first five games to end the regular season before halting the streak with a 45-17 victory over the Panthers last Jan. 1.

Saints’ Evans, Morstead voted to Pro Bowl game

METAIRIE — Guard Jahri Evans, a three-time All-Pro pick, and punter Thomas Morstead will represent the Saints at the Pro Bowl game to be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.

Evans and Morstead were the only Saints chosen as primary picks although they likely have several alternates that weren’t immediately announced when the AFC and NFC all-star squads were revealed Wednesday night.

Evans, a seven-year veteran, was chosen for the fourth consecutive year as the anchor of an offensive line that ranks third in the NFL in total yards (408.9 per game) and points (28.2 per game).

His four selections are the second-most in club history behind William Roaf, a 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who was picked seven times.

Morstead, who is in his fourth NFL season, is going to the Pro Bowl for the first time. He leads the league in gross (50.5) and net (44.4) punting average and on Sunday could break the NFL’s single-season record for net average, which is 43.99 yards by San Francisco’s Andy Lee last season.

Morstead said his selection was as much about his teammates and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon as it was about him.

“This our fourth year together,” Morstead said of McMahon, “and I credit a lot of my growth to his coaching and his being hard on me and pushing me and trying to get me to do things that maybe I didn’t think I’d be able to do that we do now.

“It’s pretty cool … it’s something neat to share,” he said. “My fiancé is here and I get to share it with all my family. Hopefully, I’ll get to take my parents to Hawaii.”

CAROLINA AGAIN: The Saints will close the regular season against the Carolina Panthers for the fifth time in the past seven seasons when they meet Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints lost in their first three finales against the Panthers in 2006 (31-21), 2008 (33-31) and 2009 (23-10) before breaking through last season with a 45-17 victory in the Superdome on Jan. 1.

PRACTICE REPORT: Not practicing Wednesday when the Saints went back to work were CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee), FB Jed Collins (knee) and DT Akiem Hicks (knee).

TE Jimmy Graham (wrist/finger) and RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) had full participation.

For the Panthers, C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and LB James Anderson (back) did not practice, while RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and WR Brandon LaFell (toe) were limited. LaFell is a former LSU standout.

BREES NOMINATED: For the fifth time this season, Brees is a nominee for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week award after throwing for 446 yards and three TDs in a 34-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Fans can vote online until 2 p.m. Friday at www.nfl.com/FedEx.

TICKETS AVAILABLE: Saints officials said Wednesday the Panthers returned a portion of their ticket allotment for Sunday’s game.

The tickets are available at the Saints ticket office at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie and online at www.ticketmaster.com.