Says he has ‘no problem’ with coach choosing Saints
St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday he had “no problem” with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan backing out of a verbal commitment with him earlier this year only to wind up with the New Orleans Saints.
The Rams were poised to hire Ryan after he was fired by the Dallas Cowboys in early January, and Fisher said Ryan “made a commitment” to join the Rams as their defensive coordinator.
Ryan even had a key to the Rams’ offices and was shown on the video boards at a St. Louis Blues hockey game.
“People sometimes in life change their mind, and I was fine with that,” Fisher said during a conference call. “If he wanted to go there (to New Orleans), that’s fine. If he wanted to stay here, that’s great.
“He didn’t sign a contract or anything,” added Fisher, who’ll go against Ryan and his sixth-ranked Saints’ defense in the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. “But he made a commitment to us.”
Fisher ultimately announced that Ryan wouldn’t be a part of his staff.
And 11 days later, on Feb. 9, the Saints announced they hired Ryan to resurrect a defense that surrendered the most yards in NFL history under Steve Spagnuolo in 2012.
“We were obviously talking and had a couple of things together, and he had a change of heart,” Fisher said. “That is fine, and I have respect for that.”
Later Wednesday, Saints coach Sean Payton said he didn’t become interested in Ryan until he got a call that the coordinator “might be available and (wasn’t) staying in St. Louis.”
“When I was aware he was available, I was interested,” Payton said. “It ended up being a plus for us, a plus for our team.”
In addition to ranking sixth in total defense, the Saints (10-3) rank fifth in fewest points allowed. The Rams (5-8) rank 19th in total yards and 14th in scoring defense under defensive coordinator Tim Walton.
Ryan isn’t scheduled to speak to the media until Friday.
A little normalcy
The Saints were finally back on their normal Sunday game week schedule Wednesday, which had them starting their preps for the Rams.
For the past month, the Saints have had their work schedule altered by Thursday and Monday night games — including an unusual 11-day gap between games with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
“Yes, it’s been crazy,” quarterback Drew Brees said after practice. “We’ve had four out of five prime-time games: Monday night, Thursday night, Sunday night ... you name it.
“It’s nice to get back into the normal routine of a normal Sunday game week,” he said. “Those are good things. It means people want to see you play and you are playing for a lot, so we take that as a compliment. But it’s nice to have a full week to prepare, get your rest and do your best.”
Butler done for 2013
The Saints won’t bring outside linebacker Victor Butler up to the active roster this season, Payton said Wednesday.
Butler, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during the final week of organized team activities in June, will be designated as reserve/physically-unable-to-perform for the rest of the season.
Butler returned to practice Nov. 19 for the start of a 21-day window that expired Tuesday. While Butler’s rehab went well and he worked hard at it, Payton said, the team decided it was best to not activate him.
“I was working my tail off, and it just came to the point of, ‘Will it be ready to actually put on pads and play football?’” Butler said. “And I think, sitting down with everybody, we decided it’d be best … not to (be activated) right away.”
Defensive end Glenn Foster, who has missed the past two games with a left knee injury he suffered in a Nov. 21 game with the Falcons, returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis.
Five players did not participate when the team returned to the field.
Not working were nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (back), safety Rafael Bush (ankle), linebacker Keyunta Dawson (calf), tight end Josh Hill (hamstring) and tackle Terron Armstead (nose).
For the Rams, wide receiver Tavon Austin (ankle), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back), running back Daryl Richardson (thigh) and cornerback Brandon McGee (foot) did not practice.
Saints’ All-Pro punter Thomas Morstead said Wednesday that he was fined for his facemask penalty against Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. at the end of a punt return Sunday night.
Morstead received a 15-yard penalty when he tried to get over to the sideline to tackle Ginn after a 32-yard punt return. Morstead’s hand caught Ginn’s facemask and spun him around, dropping him to the ground.
Ginn, who was running at top speed, may have returned the punt 79 yards for a touchdown if Morstead hadn’t somehow gotten him down.
Morstead said it’s the first time he’s been fined in his career, but declined to reveal how much he was docked. The NFL announces fines Friday.
Doubling up again
Sunday night’s win against the Panthers was the 10th of the season for the Saints, marking the fifth time they’ve reached double digits in victories in Payton’s seven seasons with the club.
That’s one more than Jim Mora had while coaching the team from 1986-1996.
It’s the 10th time in franchise history that the Saints have won at least 10 games. Payton’s came in 2006 and from 2009-11 before this season. Mora did it in 1987-88 and 1991-92. Jim Haslett had the other double-digit win season in 2000.
After being voted the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week three times this season and being nominated two other times, Brees is up for the honor again after throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers.
Fans have until Friday morning to cast their votes at www.NFL.com. The winner will be announced later that day.