- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
For Saints, injuries have helped reveal good depth
It turns out that injuries to an array of key regulars have given the defending champs a chance to see how deep they really are, and coach Sean Payton hasn’t been disappointed.
“We’ve got good depth and I think for us it’s been important with the injuries we’ve had,” Payton said after Tuesday’s practice. “One of the things that happens when you have injuries is you begin to develop your depth … maybe earlier than you normally would have planned. When you can do that and still win, then that’s encouraging because guys gain experience, they gain playing time and they gain confidence.”
During a 34-19 victory over Seattle on Sunday, the Saints (7-3) were without Bush (fibula), running back Pierre Thomas (left ankle), tight end Jeremy Shockey (bruised ribs), Sharper (left hamstring), and defensive back Malcolm Jenkins (shoulder), who has started much of the season at free safety, but who also filled in at cornerback a month ago because of injuries to the two starters at that position, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter.
When the Saints can win handily without a handful or regulars, Sharper said, “You start to see when we get everyone back what type of team we can have, how explosive we can be, how dominating we can be.”
Sharper hopes to return at Dallas and said he believes he could win his starting job back if he’s healthy, but also conceded that the defensive backfield has played well without him.
“We’ve got about eight deep that either have started for us this year and have played as well as a starter would be expected to,” Sharper said. “It helps you because during the football season you know you’re going to have guys go down.”
Since Week 4, the Saints have been without any of the top four running backs with which they opened training camp. Reserves Lynell Hamilton and P.J. Hill went out for the year during the preseason, then Bush went out in Week 2 and Thomas in Week 3. New Orleans has filled the void with undrafted rookie Chris Ivory and a couple of free agents who were job-hunting after the regular season had begun, Ladell Betts and Julius Jones.
Betts and Jones have been effective in spurts, while Ivory has emerged as the team’s leading rusher this season, gaining 481 yards in New Orleans’ last eight games. Ivory had 158 yards in a win at Tampa Bay and last weekend had 99 yards and a touchdown.
“We feel like there’s a tremendous amount of potential with this player and we’re obviously excited to have found him after the draft,” Payton said.
Bush, who practiced on Tuesday and is optimistic he’ll return this week, said he’s been impressed by the rest of the running back corps, as well as reserves at other positions.
“They seem to just be stepping up and making plays and I think in the past few years that’s kind of been an issue for us,” Bush said. “We haven’t had the guys or they haven’t had the experience to come in and play.”
Shockey also returned to practice on a limited basis this week. He was hurt two games ago while making a touchdown catch at Carolina. His replacement, rookie Jimmy Graham, made his first career touchdown catch later that same game.
“Sean and our coaching staff do a great job of putting guys in position to succeed at what they do well, and giving them opportunities,” Brees said. “It’s kind of nice to see some of these young guys who are emerging stars.”
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Adam Lanza's dad: He would've killed me 'in a heartbeat'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again