Tag Archives: Panthers

Saints’ Vaccaro leaves game vs. Panthers early with leg injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Saints’ defense took another hit Sunday when rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro injured his lower left leg late in the first period of a 17-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Vaccaro, a first-round draft pick who started all 14 games that he was healthy for, got his left leg pinned beneath him when several players fell on him at the end of a running play by the Panthers’ DeAngelo Williams.

Team trainers and doctors immediately immobilized Vaccaro’s left leg with an inflatable cast and then took him off the field on a cart.

Saints’ officials announced in the press box that Vaccaro had a lower leg injury and was doubtful to return, but Fox Sports sideline reporter Pam Oliver said he suffered a possible fractured ankle.

The Saints already have five key defenders on injured reserve: defensive end Kenyon Coleman, linebackers Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma, and cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson.

PICKED OFF: Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Cam Newton to end the Panthers’ first possession after a high pass was tipped by wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.

The interception was the first for the Saints since cornerback Corey White got one againstSan Franciscoon Nov. 17 in the Superdome.

It was only the third takeaway for the Saints’ defense in the past eight games.

ANOTHER SHUTOUT: For the second time in three weeks against the Panthers, the Saints did not score in the first quarter.

It was the 10th first-quarter shutout in 15 games for the Panthers, who have allowed just one touchdown and 24 total points in the opening period.

INACTIVES: Not suiting up for the Saints were S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), TE Josh Hill (hamstring), WR Nick Toon, DE Tom Johnson, RB Travaris Cadet and QB Ryan Griffin.

Dawson missed his fourth consecutive game, while Bush was out for a third game in a row.

The only inactive of note for the Panthers was running back Jonathan Stewart (knee). He was ruled out of the game on Friday by coach Ron Rivera.

INJURIES: Other than Vaccaro, the Saints didn’t appear to have any other serious injuries even though some players — including running back Mark Ingram — cramped up on a humid day.

For the Panthers, wide receiver Steve Smith, who was already playing with a dislocated finger, injured his left knee in the first half. Hew tried to come back in the second half, but left for good after just one play.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH?: Shayne Graham, who hit field-goal attempts of 40 and 24 yards in his Saints debut after replacing Garrett Hartley at midweek, is the eighth kicker to be employed by Payton in his eight-year tenure.

Others in the kicking club are John Carney (2006, 2009-10), Billy Cundiff (2006), Olindo Mare (2007), Martin Gramatica (2007-08), Taylor Mehlhaff (2008), Hartley (2008-10, 2012-13) and John Kasay (2011).

MORSTEAD SHINES: Saints punter Thomas Morstead perfectly executed a surprise onside kick that Ramon Humber recovered in the second quarter.

The onside kick came after Graham made his first field goal and led to his second three-pointer of the game.

Morstead later had a 61-yard punt, which equaled his longest of the season, and averaged 48.6 yards on seven kicks.

LAGNIAPPE: Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was credited with a franchise-record 24 tackles Sunday. He had nine solo tackles and 15 assists and one of their two interceptions of Drew Brees. … The Saints’ 11-play, 97-yard touchdown drive in the fourth period tied their longest of the season. They also marched 97 yards to a 3-yard TD pass from Brees to Hill against the 49ers. … Cornerback Trevin Wade, who had been inactive for four games since being signed by the Saints on Nov. 20, dressed out for the first time and played as the sixth defensive back early in the game.

Saints’ Bush to miss third straight game vs. Panthers

CHARLOTTE,N.C. — Saints safety Rafael Bush, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, tops the list of inactives for Sunday’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

Bush injured his ankle in the Dec. 2 game with the Seattle Seahawks and has not practiced since then although he was listed as doubtful for the game on Friday by coach Sean Payton.

Linebacker Keyunta Dawson is also inactive for the fourth consecutive game because of a calf injury that he sustained on Nov. 21 atAtlantaand tight end Josh Hill will be out for the second game in a row with a hamstring problem.

The Saints’ healthy inactives are WR Nick Toon, DE Tom Johnson, RB Travaris Cadet and QB Ryan Griffin.

Topping the list of Panthers’ inactives is running back Jonathan Stewart, who was ruled of the game on Friday by coach Ron Rivera because of a knee injury.

The other inactive are CB Josh Norman, LB Dan Connor, WR Tavarres King, WR Marvin McNutt, T Travis Bond and DE Wes Horton.

Saints’ Armstead hopes to follow in Zach Strief’s footsteps

It’s been said you have to walk a mile in a man’s shoes to understand what he’s going through.

Saints right tackle Zach Strief is that man this week.

Seven years ago, Strief, a rookie seventh-round draft pick who had yet to play in a regular-season game, had the gargantuan task of lining up at left tackle against Pro Bowl defensive end Simeon Rice because of an injury to starter Jammal Brown.

Strief never let Rice, one of the NFL’s elite pass-rushers at the time, get near Drew Brees that day and the Saints offense never missed a beat in a 31-14 road win against the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Fast forward to Wednesday when Saints coach Sean Payton announced that rookie Terron Armstead, a third-round draft pick, will make his first NFL start at left tackle in Sunday’s crucial NFC South matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

So Strief knew exactly what Armstead, who replaces the demoted Charles Brown, was feeling Wednesday.

As the youngster was being interviewed by a group of reporters after practice, Strief stood a few feet away talking to other media members who were wondering about the task Armstead faces.

“Terron’s a professional football player … he made the roster this year,” said Strief, an offensive captain. “He proved in games early he could do it. Everyone here has plenty of confidence in him. Sooner or later, he was going to be a starter in this league.

“Just like anybody, there’s going to be things happen to Terron because he’s young. But I think we have more than enough confidence that Terron will be a good player for us.”

When someone mentioned that Brees fared pretty well that day in November 2006 when another greenhorn was called on in a pinch, Strief said, “He (Brees) is still living. He didn’t even get him hit in that game.”

WELCOME BACK: After traveling toMetairie for a tryout along with four other kickers on Nov. 12, when the Saints were trying to cover their bases while Garrett Hartley was struggling, Shayne Graham was back Wednesday.

Graham, 36, was signed Tuesday after coach Sean Payton had seen enough of Hartley, who missed field-goal attempts of 36 (blocked) and 26 yards in a 27-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Graham, who went to training camp with the Saints in 2000, was out of football this season after playing with the Houston Texans in 2012. He said he had tryouts with “four or five” teams before the Saints finally called again.

“We were told they were just going to sit things out and see what happens,” he said of his earlier visit. “You know there are reasons why you were brought in, but you never wish anything bad on anyone. When I got the call, it was just time to get the call.”

After connecting on 85.4 percent of his career field-goal attempts (245 of 287), Graham said he’s ready despite his recent layoff. His last field goal made was a 55-yarder for the Texans atNew Englandin the playoffs last January.

“I don’t feel like there’s any physical concern,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation before. The goal posts are the same size, the ball is same football. You come in and kick, that’s what you do.”

CLASSY MOVE: After clearing waivers Wednesday, Hartley took to Twitter and wrote that “it’s been an honor to wear the Black & Gold.”

“I have been blessed with the opportunity that the (Saints and) ownership have given me,” wrote Hartley, who helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV. “The memories that were made with this team will live in my heart forever!”

DOWN TO 10: With Hartley gone, the Saints only have 10 players remaining on the 53-man active roster who were on the team that won the Super Bowl just four years ago.

The 10 that are still standing: Brees, Strief, running back Pierre Thomas, guard Jahri Evans, punter Thomas Morstead, safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper, and wide receivers Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem.

PRACTICE REPORT: The Saints’ practice report Thursday was virtually unchanged from the one Payton turned in a day earlier.

The only difference was in the status of Harper. Limited by a hip problem on Wednesday, he had full participation Thursday.

S Rafael Bush (ankle) did not practice and could miss his third straight game this week, while LB Keyunta Dawson (calf) and TE Josh Hill (hamstring) were limited.

SMITH SITS OUT: For the Panthers, wide receiver Steve Smith, who has a jammed finger, didn’t practice after being limited Wednesday.

Still, team officials expect Smith to play against the Saints.

Not practicing Thursday was RB Jonathan Stewart (knee), while TE Brandon Williams (hip) was limited. TE Greg Olsen (foot) had full participation after not working Wednesday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11-5 — Payton’s record in the game following a double-digit loss, including the postseason. The Saints dropped an 11-point decision to the last week.

Advocate sportswriter Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.

Saints’ Payton has an eventful and unsually busy Wednesday

Wednesday is usually one of the busiest days of the week for an NFL team because it’s the first day of practice for the upcoming game Sunday.

Wednesday was that and more for Saints coach Sean Payton.

He held his daily news conference five hours earlier than usual to announce four roster moves — including the release of veteran kicker Garrett Hartley –and that rookie Terron Armstead will make his first start at left tackle in Sunday’s huge NFC South showdown atCarolina.

Even though the Saints cut Hartley and cornerback Chris Carr on Tuesday, moves that were released on the NFL’s transaction wire, the team didn’t officially announce them until Wednesday.

Their roster spots were filled by kicker Shayne Graham, who spent seven seasons of his 12-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, and safety Eric Frampton, a seven-year veteran who excels on special teams.

Payton, who was openly critical of his team’s performance after Sunday’s 27-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams, said the unusual late-season changes for a team that will likely be in the playoffs wasn’t for effect.

“You don’t do that,” Payton said. “At least we don’t.”

When asked how the moves were viewed by the team, Payton said he couldn’t speak for his players before noting they can win the division title and nail down the No. 2 seed for the playoffs Sunday.

“I think spirits were down after the loss,” he noted. “Our guys are pretty resilient, though. We’ll bounce back. I think they all understand the nature of this business.”

ON NOTICE: Both quarterback Drew Brees and linebacker Curtis Lofton, two of the team’s captains, said they knew changes would be coming after the Saints failed miserably against a 5-8 Rams team.

“Sean flat-out said, ‘There’s probably going to be some changes made around here, and some of you won’t like it,’” Brees said of the transactions and demotion of tackle Charles Brown, who was benched in the third quarter.

“I would definitely say you’re on notice,” Lofton said. “The thing about this league is you’re being evaluated every time you step out on the football field, whether it’s in practice or whether it’s in a game.

“When you make a move like that, it’s telling everyone: ‘You’re accountable. And you’re not just accountable to the players, but you’re accountable to this organization and to these fans.’ When you don’t go out and execute and play the way you should play, then there are consequences.”

TOUGH DECISION: Payton admitted it was tough to part with Hartley, a six-year veteran who helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV in 2009.

Hartley was connecting on 84.5 percent of his field-goal attempts going into this season, but struggled at midseason in misfiring on four of six attempts.

He had a 36-yard field goal blocked by the Rams and shanked a 26-yarder that sealed his fate. He was 22-of-30 this season, dropping him to 81.2 percent for his career.

“He responded very well earlier in the year when he had a handful of misses,” Payton said. “But then it was more difficult to see (him miss) the shorter-range field goal. You spent a lot of time giving it thought, and ultimately you go with your gut.”

That’s not to say it didn’t hurt, Payton said, after cutting a player that kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship game in 2009 and then had three field goals of 40 yards or longer in the Super Bowl.

“When you do something and win a championship like that, it is a little bit stronger bond between everyone that was on that team on that bus ride home and a part of it. So absolutely (it’s tough),” he said.

SAYING GOODBYE: Punter Thomas Morstead was among those who felt for Hartley after he was released.

Morstead said he spoke with his close friend on the plane ride home fromSt. Louisand they had dinner Monday night. A somber Morstead said it’s a part of the game.

“It’s the NFL,” he said. “I guess this is part of what makes it special. It’s precious. You can be fired as quick as that. It’s tough, but it’s another reminder.”

“Your heart hurts for (Hartley) with some of the struggles we’ve had and he’s had this year,” Brees said. “That’s kind of a shakeup, but it’s also a reality check. That could be any one of us if we’re not getting the job done.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Only one player was held out Wednesday when the Saints returned to practice.

Safety Rafael Bush, who plays in the dime package, did not participate because of an ankle injury that has kept him out of the past two games.

Only three players were listed as having limited participation: LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), SS Roman Harper (hip) and TE Josh Hill (hamstring).

Dawsonhas been sidelined for the past three games, while Hill missed last week’s game.

For the Panthers, TE Greg Olsen (toe) and RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) did not practice, while WR Steve Smith (finger) was limited.

Saints’ Bush only player to miss Wednesday’s practice session

Only one player was held out Wednesday when the Saints returned to practice to begin preparing for Sunday’s huge NFC South showdown with the Carolina Panthers inCharlotte,N.C.

Safety Rafael Bush, who plays in the dime package, did not work because of an ankle injury that has kept him out of the past two games. His availability for Sunday’s game is unknown.

Only three players were listed as having limited participation in practice — LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), SS Roman Harper (hip) and TE Josh Hill (hamstring).

Dawsonhas been sidelined for the past three games after being injured just before the team’s Dec. 2 game with the Seattle Seahawks. Hill missed last week’s game with the St. Louis Rams after leaving the game with the Panthers on Dec. 8 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

For the Panthers, TE Greg Olsen (toe) and RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) did not practice, while WR Steve Smith (finger) was limited.

Saints’ Payton demotes Brown, Armstead to start at Carolina

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Charles Brown makes blocks against Oakland Raiders Jack Crawford #91 at the Superdome during an NFL preseason game in New Orleans, Louisiana on Friday, August 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Layne Murdoch)

Three days after benching left tackle Charles Brown in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams, Saints coach Sean Payton turned to rookie Terron Armstead to start this week’s crucial road game with the Carolina Panthers.

Armstead, the first of two third-round draft picks this spring, will make his debut at tackle Sunday after playing in just four of the team’s 14 games — all on special teams. He has played a total of 17 special-teams snaps.

The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Armstead takes over for Brown, who was benched after the opening possession of the second half of their 27-16 setback to the Rams ended with Brown giving up a sack that resulted in a lost fumble by Drew Brees.

A four-year veteran, Brown gave up a pair of sacks to Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and was also penalized twice on the Saints previous drive before halftime.

Brown had a holding penalty and then was flagged for illegal use of hands which nullified an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Lance Moore. That would have trimmed a 21-point deficit to 24-10 at halftime, but his mistake was magnified when Garrett Hartley’s 36-yard field-goal try was blocked.

Hartley, who also missed a 26-yard field-goal attempt late in the game, was released Tuesday.

Brown started all 14 games this season after winning the starting job in training camp. He won out over Armstead and veteran Jason Smith to take over for two-time Pro Bowl pick Jermon Bushrod, who left the Saints in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

“I think Terron has improved during the course of the season — be it taking scout team reps, or some work with the offense,” Payton said during his daily news conference. “It’s time to see what he can do.”

Armstead, who starred at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, was the 75th overall pick of the draft after recording a time of 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — the fastest time ever posted by an offensive tackle.

“I visited with Charles this morning,” Payton said. “Of course, he’s disappointed as he would be. I’m sure he’ll respond the right way and handle the right way in a professional manner. It’s the nature of the business.

“Again (it was) a decision based on just looking at a lot of snaps and looking at consistency and the things we’re looking for. I think there were a handful of things that happened in that game the other day that really prohibited us from having some type of success.”

Armstead will have his hands full in his first NFL start against the Panthers, who, at 10-4, share the NFC South lead with the Saints. He’ll go up against right defensive end Greg Hardy, who has eight sacks this season and 26 for his four-year career.

Payton acknowledged it’s a tough spot to put Armstead in, but noted that it would be a challenge regardless of the opponent.

“When you’re a tackle, probably each week, pick a team and you’re going to have a good challenge,” Payton said.

Payton said that right tackle Zach Strief, who moved to the left side when Brown was removed from last week’s game, will start at his regular spot.

Bryce Harris, who was inserted into the game at right tackle on Sunday, will continue as a backup and also get some snaps as an extra tight end for blocking purposes.

Payton also officially announced that Hartley and cornerback Chris Carr were released Tuesday. The team signed kicker Shayne Graham, a 13-year veteran, and safety Eric Frampton to take their spots on the active roster.

Saints’ Brees keeping the ball out of opponents’ hands

After 13 games last season, Saints quarterback Drew Brees had thrown 18 interceptions which put him within striking distance of one personal record he doesn’t want to break — 22 picks in a season.

Brees threw just one in the final three games and wound up with 19, which still didn’t sit well with a quarterback who’s used to shattering records like passing yards, touchdown passes and passing efficiency.

Fast forward to the same point of this season and Brees has put the ball in opponents’ hands just eight times — one in the last five outings — going into Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams.

“I’m just trying to be as efficient as I can be. … I try to be very cognizant of that, understanding the value of protecting the football,” Brees, who has 33 TD passes this season, said when asked about the turnaround.

“If you look at it statistically, we’re undefeated (this season) when we don’t turn the ball over,” he said. “That stat alone will help you win just about every game, so our whole team has done a very good job of it.”

When asked if 33 to eight ratio in touchdowns to interceptions was similar to a baseball pitcher’s ratio of strikeouts to walks, Brees grinned and said, “We like to throw strikes.”

PLAYING KEEPAWAY: Brees said the Saints are undefeated this season when they don’t have a giveaway, like they did in Sunday’s 31-13 bashing of the Carolina Panthers.

It was the fourth time this season the Saints have not turned the ball over as they also did it against Chicago, Buffalo and Atlanta.

That pushed their record since Sean Payton was hired in 2006 to 26-1 in the regular season and 2-0 in the postseason when they don’t turn it over.

RYAN’S ROUTE: Having been fired by the Dallas Cowboys in a phone call while on a Caribbean vacation in January, one of the first people Rob Ryan called was Aaron Kromer, then the Saints’ offensive line coach.

But Kromer, who soon left to become the offensive coordinator in Chicago, couldn’t ask Payton because he was still serving a bounty suspension.

“Damn,” said Ryan, who spent two 8-8 seasons in Dallas. “That’d be the perfect spot for me.”

Ryan eventually ended up in New Orleans after accepting a job and working five days for the Rams on a verbal agreement with coach Jeff Fisher.

For the first time Friday, Ryan, who said he didn’t “get the right vibe” in St. Louis because Fisher wanted to use a 4-3 scheme, delved into details about the circuitous route he took to what he called “the perfect situation.”

“I thought to myself, ‘I was already mad about the Dallas situation, and you know what? This is the best thing for me to do and (the Rams) —- for me to walk away and wait for the perfect opportunity,’ ” Ryan said.

Around that time, Payton, who had been reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and brought Ryan in 11 days after he left the Rams staff.

Ryan called Fisher, who said Wednesday he wasn’t mad at Ryan’s change of heart, a friend of his family’s.

“We love him. We respect him. He’s a great coach,” Ryan said.

INJURY REPORT: Payton listed five players as questionable — NT Brodrick Bunkley (back), DE Glenn Foster (knee), S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf) and TE Josh Hill (hamstring) — for Sunday’s game.

Bunkley and Foster worked fully in Friday’s practice after being limited Thursday. Bush, Dawson and Hill did not practice all week.

For the Rams, WR Tavon Austin (ankle), CB Janoris Jenkins (back), G Harvey Dahl (knee) and RB Daryl Richardson (thigh) are questionable. CB Brandon McGee (foot) is probable.

GETTING THE MESSAGE: After drawing six holding penalties in the first eight games, left tackle Charles Brown has done a much better job with no holding calls in the last five.

Brown smiled Thursday when asked by reporters how he’s been able to reduce the number of penalties.

“It’s just in my mind to try and not get these penalties,” he said. “I didn’t know they were adding up like that, really, until coach (Payton) said something.”

Advocate sportswriter Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.

Saints’ Brees bounces back with milestone game

After throwing for just 147 yards in a 34-7 setback against the Seattle Seahawks just six nights earlier, Saints quarterback Drew Brees bounced back in a big way Sunday night.

Brees threw four touchdown passes — three of them in a decisive second quarter — as the Saints rolled to a 31-13 victory against the Carolina Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Along the way, Brees reached three personal milestones — the biggest coming when he became just the fifth player in NFL history to reach the 50,000-yard mark in career passing yards.

Brees, who is the fastest to reach that total in just 183 games — eight games fewer than Peyton Manning — now has amassed 50,026 yards in 13 seasons.

Only Brett Favre (71,838), Manning (64,009), Dan Marino (61,361) and John Elway (51,475) have more yards than Brees.

Brees also reached the 4,000-yard mark for the eighth season in a row, which is an NFL record, and set another league mark with his sixth consecutive season of 30 touchdown passes or more.

EIGHT GRAND: Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, who earlier this season set club records for career receptions and receiving yards, surpassed the 8,000-yard mark with a 21-yard catch in the first period.

The reception gave Colston 8,011 yards for his eight-year career, making him the 87th player in NFL history to reach 8,000. He went on to finish the game with nine catches — including two touchdowns — for 126 yards, pushing his career total to 8,116 yards.

SUPERMAN PLAY: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who likes to think of himself as Superman, celebrates big plays by acting as if he’s ripping off his suit like his superhero.

Saints linebacker Junior Galette mimicked Newton when he sacked him to end the Panthers’ first possession and forced them into a field-goal attempt. Galette pretended to rip off his suit, then slammed it to the turf and stomped on it before trotting off the field.

Galette finished with a career-high three sacks.

INACTIVES: The Saints’ inactives were S Rafael Bush (ankle), LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), DE Glenn Foster (knee), WR Nick Toon, T Terron Armstead, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin.

Bush was injured in Monday night’s loss to the Seahawks, while Dawson and Foster each missed their second consecutive game.

Inactives of note for the Panthers were G Chris Scott (knee), LB Jordan Senn (hamstring) and DE Frank Alexander, a Baton Rouge native who played at Southern Lab.

INJURIES: For the Saints, TE Josh Hill injured his left hamstring in the first half and did not return. … NT Brodrick Bunkley left briefly in the second half with a back problem, but returned.

For the Panthers, CB Drayton Florence left in the second half with a knee injury.

TAKING A HIT: The Panthers, who lead the NFL in scoring defense in allowing just 13.1 points per game, gave up more than that in a 13-minute stretch of the second quarter alone.

Brees fired three touchdown passes — two to Colston and one to Jimmy Graham — to turn a 6-0 first-quarter deficit into a 21-6 halftime cushion.

In their first 12 games, the Panthers gave up just 46 points in the second period.

SHORTENED WEEK: Saints coach Sean Payton is 8-5 after a Monday night game and 11-7 overall when he has less than a normal week to prepare for a game.

The win over the Panthers came just six nights after a 34-7 loss to the Seahawks and a delayed plane ride home with the team not returning to New Orleans until Tuesday afternoon.

LAGNIAPPE: The Saints are 9-0 on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” — 7-0 under Payton — since he arrived in 2006. … Graham surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving for the second time in his four seasons. He had 58 yards against the Panthers and has 1,046 for the season. … Rookie nose tackle John Jenkins started the game because Bunkley missed practice time during the week with an ankle injury. … The Saints had the ball for just eight plays and 3 minutes, 30 seconds in the first quarter. … The Superdome crowd observed a moment of silence before the game for Nelson Mandela.

Saints’ FS Bush inactive for contest with Panthers

The Saints will be without one of their top reserves in the secondary, free safety Rafael Bush, for Sunday night’s game with the Carolina Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Bush, who injured his ankle in last Monday night’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks and was unable to practice all week, was one of the team’s seven inactives listed by coach Sean Payton.

Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus or cornerback Chris Carr will likely take Bush’s spot as the dime back when the Saints go to six defensive backs.

Also inactive because of injuries are LB Keyunta Dawson (calf) and DE Glenn Foster (knee). Dawson and Foster will miss their second game in a row.

The Saints’ other inactives are WR Nick Toon, T Terron Armstead, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin.

Topping the list of inactives for the Panthers are G Chris Scott (knee) and LB Jordan Senn (hamstring). Scott is their starting right guard, while Senn is a reserve linebacker.

The other inactives are RB Kenjon Barner, WR Tavarres King, WR Marvin McNutt, CB Josh Norman and DE Frank Alexander, a Baton Rouge native who played his high school ball at Southern Lab.


Saints’ Strief, Bunkley among five questionable for Sunday

Saints coach Sean Payton listed five players — including starting right tackle Zach Strief and starting nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley — as questionable for Sunday night’s big game with the Carolina Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Strief and Bunkley, who both suffered ankle injuries in Monday night’s game with the Seattle Seahawks, practiced on a limited basis Friday. Bunkley returned to work Friday, while Strief was back Thursday.

The other players listed as questionable by Payton — LB Keyunta Dawson (calf), S Rafael Bush (ankle) and DE Glenn Foster (knee) — did not participate in Friday’s practice session.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera ruled guard Chris Scott, who has a knee injury, out of the game between the NFC South co-leaders.

LB Jordan Senn (hamstring) is questionable, while DE Charles Johnson (knee), RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), RB DeAngelo Williams (quad), FB Mike Tolbert (knee), TE Ben Hartsock (knee) and T Nate Chandler (knee) are probable.

Senn did not practice Friday, while all of the players that are listed as probable had full participation.