- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Jimmy Graham didn’t hesitate to punctuate a pair of touchdown catches with the goal post-rattling, basketball-style dunks that led the NFL to ban such celebrations coming into this season.

Both times, Graham drew penalty flags for unsportsmanlike conduct.

With relatively little at stake in preseason game No. 2 on Friday night, the crowd roared its approval, and the Saints went on to beat the Tennessee Titans, 31-24.

Saints coach Sean Payton, however, wasn’t amused after Graham’s second dunk, barking at the star tight end as he came to the sideline.

Following the game, Graham fled the locker room without speaking to reporters.

Payton, meanwhile, said he was “particularly” upset with Graham’s penalties, but also with much of the team after the Saints (2-0) drew 22 flags for 184 yards.

“Obviously, that was painful to watch,” Payton said. “It’s the first sign of a team that has no discipline, and that’s the first sign of poor coaching. … I’m very upset.”

After holding out the entire offseason for his four-year, $40 million contract, Graham appeared to be in fine form with five catches for 48 yards in limited action, including his TDs of 6 and 19 yards from Luke McCown.

While Payton lost patience with Graham’s insistence upon continuing his post-TD dunks, Graham’s teammates appeared conflicted, considering it was a preseason game.

“I understand Jimmy’s frustration with that rule change,” veteran right tackle Zach Strief said. “I don’t think Jimmy is a selfish player. … It’s selfish in a real game. I don’t think Jimmy is like that. I think that was his one opportunity to make it his statement on it.”

Last year, one such dunk bent a goal post out of place, delaying a regular-season game.

“Look, one time in 40 years a goal post gets tilted and all of a sudden we have to change the rules?” Strief said. “People love Jimmy because he gets excited and they love him because he celebrates. The fans love that stuff. And Jimmy is frustrated because they’re taking something away that … adds entertainment to the game.”

The penalties after both celebrations were enforced on the kickoff, resulting in returns to the Tennessee 38 and 36 by the Titans’ Marc Mariani. Tennessee (1-1) scored touchdowns on both drives.

There were some developments which pleased Payton.

The Saints’ defense had five turnovers and four sacks. Offensively, New Orleans produced several long gains, including completions of 52 and 44 yards from Ryan Griffin to Joe Morgan, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

Story Continues →