Saints coach Sean Payton said he hopes to play his starters about 14 to 16 plays during Friday night’s preseason opener with the Kansas City Chiefs in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Payton said Thursday he typically tries to get his No. 1 offense and defense through the first quarter, but sometimes the plan changes because one unit or the other gets more snaps.
He said the coaching staff divides things into three phases, but the defense might be moving into the second phase while the offense is still in the first phase. Also, Payton said, a handful of players may transition and be on the field for phase one and for some snaps in the second phase.
Wallace to sit
After Drew Brees gets his allotted plays, Payton said Luke McCown will work in the second phase after spending most of the first two weeks of training camp splitting second-team reps with Seneca Wallace.
But Wallace had a groin injury about a week and a half ago and likely won’t play against the Chiefs, even though he returned to practice Monday. The third-phase snaps will be taken by former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin.
“We’ll probably rest Seneca with him coming off his muscle pull,” Payton said. “We want to make sure he’s back 100 percent and I can give him more reps next week (against Oakland).”
With 11 players missing practice Thursday, Payton wouldn’t talk about which of them will or won’t play against the Chiefs.
Among the bigger names missing practice were running back Pierre Thomas and linebackers Junior Galette, Jonathan Vilma and Martez Wilson.
Wilson is definitely out with a dislocated elbow, and the others are also likely to rest, along with wide receiver Marques Colston and cornerback Patrick Robinson, who practiced for the first time this week.
Back on the sideline
Payton, who was suspended last season for his role in the bounty scandal, will be on the sideline for his first game since Jan. 14, 2012, when the Saints were eliminated from the NFC playoffs with a 36-32 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park.
“I think just getting back out on the field to practice and then having a chance to get back and coach a regular game — that part of it is exciting,” Payton said Thursday.
Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis will go against his younger cousin, Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis, just across the rive from where they grew up and played together at O. Perry Walker High School.
“I have to show him the ropes,” Keenan Lewis said earlier this week.
Asked if there will be some talking going on, Keenan Lewis smiled and said, “Definitely, but I told him not to call me until Saturday.”
There was some rookie hazing at the end of practice on Thursday, the 15th day of training camp.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro, the team’s first-round draft pick, and cornerback Rod Sweeting, an undrafted free agent, were taped to a goal post in the indoor facility by fellow defensive backs.
They were photographed and laughed at before being freed a few minutes later.
Five observations from Thursday’s practice session:
1. The pickings were sparse as the Saints had a light practice that was devoted to fine-tuning their plays and working on plays the Chiefs might use.
2. Defensive end Jay Richardson has been working at that position as well as outside linebacker, but did his individual work with the linebackers.
3. Quarterback Ryan Griffin threw a perfectly placed pass to the sideline on a deep out to receiver Steve Breaston, with Jim Leonhard covering.
4. Free-agent tight end Josh Hill made a nice twisting catch on a ball thrown behind him, tipping it to himself and reeling it in while falling down.
5. Veteran Will Herring, who’s been working at inside linebacker, lined up with the No. 1 defense with outside linebacker Junior Galette out.