With Karen looming, Saints plan to leave town a day early

To avoid travel problems from Tropical Storm Karen, coach Sean Payton said Thursday the New Orleans Saints will travel early to Chicago, where they play the Bears on Sunday

The Saints will leave town Friday evening and try to hold a walkthrough at a field near their hotel, Payton said. The team usually travels to away games on Saturday.

The last time the Saints left early for a regular-season game was when Hurricane Gustav struck Louisiana in 2008. They practiced all week in Indianapolis after their final exhibition that year and then flew home to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

“We’re able to handle this pretty smoothly ... just to be smart and not get caught up in what really sounds more like a wind issue potentially on Saturday,” Payton said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Karen was expected to make landfall Saturday as a strong tropical storm near Mobile, Ala. Tropical storm conditions may be felt in New Orleans starting late Friday.