After expressing a bit of concern with some aspects of his team’s performance in a 17-13 preseason win Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton emphasized their shortcomings Sunday.
Following a day off, the Saints returned to the practice field for a two-hour indoor workout that included an emphasis on game-related mistakes.
“I just thought there were a handful of things that came up in the course of the game that you would have liked to seen us do a better job with,” Payton said. “I thought on substitutions we got caught a couple of times (with 10 men on the field).
“We struggled in kick coverage and on third down some, and had a reverse set up and couldn’t get the exchange,” he added. “There were enough things to aggravate you.”
On the other hand, Payton said the play of the defense was encouraging after it gave up a touchdown on the Chiefs’ first drive, as was the play in the secondary.
“Overall, there was enough to where you’re encouraged in some areas,” he said, “and yet, you realize there’s a lot of things you need to clean up.”
Special teams woes
Payton wasn’t happy with his kick coverage units after the Chiefs averaged 17.7 yards on punts with returns of 55, 22 and 16 yards and had a 45.3 average on three kickoffs — which was topped by a 79-yarder.
Thomas Morstead had a 57-yard punt that pinned the Chiefs back to the 9, but Corey White was flagged for illegal formation and Kansas City got the ball out to the 31 on the re-kick.
“The penalty brings it back, and, all of a sudden, you’ve got hidden yardage at the 30 or 31,” Payton said. “We’ve got to be better in that area, and we will be.”
Breaston catching up
Wide receiver Steve Breaston, a seven-year veteran who was signed last week when Joe Morgan was lost for the season with a knee injury, participated in team drills Sunday for the first time.
Breaston returned a punt, but did not play on offense in the preseason opener against the Chiefs. But he got his chance Sunday and on his first play made a nice diving catch near the sideline on a throw from Ryan Griffin.
“We knew that first week was going to be tough; he just needed to spend extra time in meetings,” Payton said. “He made a great catch today in one of the team drills, it was outstanding. The key is picking things up, and he’ll be in some role in this week’s game.”
Payton again offered few details on injured players like running back Pierre Thomas and linebackers Junior Galette and Jonathan Vilma, who all sat out Friday night’s game and didn’t practice again Sunday.
“When these guys are back, I’ll brief you on it,” Payton told reporters. “They’re all doing well. We’re being smart with the rehab and being patient.”
Payton did say that he should know more about Thomas on Monday, but said Galette likely will miss practice again.
Givens put on IR
Wide receiver Chris Givens, who was waived/injured last week after hurting a shoulder in the Black and Gold Scrimmage, cleared waivers and was put on injured reserve Sunday. Givens was also injured ikn last year’s camp and was put on IR.
Tuesday practice closed
Two of the next three practices will be open to the public, the final opportunities for fans to watch the team work out this year.
The Saints announced Sunday night that Tuesday’s practice, which was originally scheduled to be open, is now closed. That means workouts on Monday and Wednesday, both set for 8:50 a.m., will be the last ones open to fans before camp breaks Thursday.