QB named NFC Offensive Player of the Week; defense continues to shine
After he threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns in a 21-point blowout of the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, it was no surprise that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week by the NFL on Wednesday.
Brees claimed the Week 4 honor after chalking up the 10th 400-yard passing game of his career, just three off the league record held by Dan Marino. In completing 75 percent of his passes in a 38-17 victory, Brees was not intercepted and finished with a 144.5 passer rating.
It’s the 15th time that Brees, who was 30-of-39 with two touchdowns to Jimmy Graham and one each to Darren Sproles and Benjamin Watson, has won the NFC offensive award since joining the Saints in 2006.
It’s the second straight week the Saints have claimed the honor. Graham won in Week 3 after catching nine passes for 134 yards with a pair of TDs in a 31-7 belting of the Arizona Cardinals.
While the Saints offense continues to gain momentum after a slower-than-usual start (it is up to fourth in the NFL stats in total yards), the defense has more than done its share in a 4-0 start.
After the win against the Dolphins, the Saints have held all four of their opponents below 20 points. That’s the first time the Saints have not allowed 20 points over a four-game stretch since 2007.
Though they’ve been very good, the Saints will be hard-pressed to match the 1992 team that held six consecutive opponents to 19 or fewer points. The Saints play the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots — both on the road — the next two weeks.
Five players did not participate in practice Wednesday when the Saints returned to the field to begin preparing for Sunday’s game with the Bears.
Not practicing were SS Roman Harper (knee), RB Mark Ingram (toe), WR Lance Moore (hand), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and DE Tyrunn Walker (knee).
CB Keenan Lewis (hip) and DE Tom Johnson (hamstring) were limited. Even though he was limited, Johnson practiced for the first time since being injured in a Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The Saints made a practice squad move on Wednesday, signing fullback Austin Johnson and waiving cornerback Jumal Rolle.
Tillman sits out
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, a former UL-Lafayette star, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall were among four players not participating in Wednesday’s practice.
Tillman has a groin and knee problem, while Marshall, the Bears’ leading receiver, did not work because of a foot injury.
DT Stephen Paea (toe) and S Anthony Walters (hamstring) also did not practice, while DE Julius Peppers (chest), TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder) and CB Sherrick McManis (quadriceps) were limited.
Graham ties mark
With 413 receiving yards in the past three outings, Graham equaled the league mark for most yards by a tight end over a three-game stretch.
Graham had 179 and 134 yards in wins over the Bucs and Cardinals, then added 100 on four catches against the Dolphins to push his three-game total to 413 yards.
Graham’s 413 yards matched the mark set by San Diego’s Dave Kocourek in 1961 and tied by Denver’s Shannon Sharpe in 1996.
Thanks to his solid performance in Monday night’s win, Brees has been nominated for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week award.
Brees is up against the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning and San Diego Chargers’ Phillip Rivers. Voting continues at NFL.com/fedex until Friday. The winner is announced later that day.
As they usually do when they play a primetime game, the Saints drew huge ratings for their matchup with the Dolphins on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
The telecast earned an 8.6 rating representing 9.9 million U.S. households with 13.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. In the New Orleans area, the game drew a 21.7 rating on ESPN and a 39.3 on WDSU-TV for a combined 61.0 rating in the market.