METAIRIE — After a weekend off to recharge the batteries following Thursday night’s 23-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints went back to work Monday.
They didn’t exactly ease back into things, not with their postseason hopes hanging by a thread with only four games remaining.
While it’s a long shot at best with at least six teams ahead of them in the race for two wild-card playoff spots, the Saints know a winning season is still a possibility.
Which is what they focused on when they got on the field for what suspended coach Sean Payton likes to call a bonus practice.
With the New York Giants playing Monday night and facing a short week before Sunday’s matchup in MetLife Stadium, the Saints got a bit of a jump on their preparations for the NFC East leaders, while interim coach Joe Vitt testified in the bounty hearings in downtown New Orleans.
When asked who ran practice while Vitt was away, cornerback Jabari Greer smiled and said he did before noting that the offense and defense challenged each other in the workout held under the direction of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
“It was kind of unexpected being a Monday bonus day, but we made sure we got in here and got some good work in,” Greer said. “I’m not sure who ran it, but whoever put it together … they had something up their sleeve.”
With three days to get over the loss to the Falcons, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said it was easy to see that the Saints moved on to the next task against the Giants — which will be their third consecutive meeting with a division leader.
“We had a good practice today, I thought,” Spagnuolo said. “The weather was great, and I thought the guys worked pretty well.”
Even though he enjoyed a rare Sunday off during the regular season, taking advantage of it to ride bikes with his wife on Magazine Street, Spagnuolo was eager to get back to work Monday.
It was easy to understand his motivation considering the Saints, who allowed at least 400 total yards in the first 10 games and 375 yards in their 11th outing, held the Falcons’ sixth-ranked offense to 283 — nearly 103 yards below their average.
“I like the sound of that, but I haven’t gotten stuck on the bad stats, so I’m not going to get stuck on the good ones,” he said. “(But) our guys should feel good about that.
“The thing that’s hard to overcome is we want to win, and we didn’t get the win. So the result is not really what we wanted.”
With their playoff hopes fading after losing to the San Francisco 49ers and Falcons in a span of five days, the Saints have to regroup and go on the road to face the Giants.
Even though they were 7-4 going into Monday night’s game with the Washington Redskins, Spagnuolo underscored how tough it will be to win when he reminded reporters that the Giants are still the reigning Super Bowl champions.
He said he hopes the Saints, who will have nine days between games as opposed to the Giants’ six, will be a little bit fresher.
“I wish we were playing here, then they’d have to travel coming off a Monday night,” said Spagnuolo, who was the Giants’ defensive coordinator in 2007 when they won Super Bowl XLII and in 2008. “I don’t know, at this point in the season, teams are kind of in their routine.
“The New York Giants have played in a lot of Monday night games. They’ve played a lot of prime-time football. I don’t think it will have much of an adverse effect on them. I wish it would.”
Spagnuolo said defensive end Junior Galette and cornerback Corey White were able to work Monday. Galette has missed four games with a high-ankle sprain, while White, who is the Saints’ nickel back, was out for two games with a knee injury and played only on special teams against the Falcons. … Galette said he tried to come back a little too early a couple of weeks ago and had a setback. “But it felt good today,” he said. “I know I’m going to play Sunday.” … Spagnuolo said he did very little scoreboard watching over the weekend as it relates to teams ahead of the Saints in the playoff chase. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t do that,” he said, noting that he watched just a small part of the Dallas-Philadelphia game Sunday night.
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