NEW ORLEANS (AP) – When the New Orleans Saints finished killing the Patriots last weekend, they did something they hadn’t done in about a month.
They boarded a plane for New Orleans, where they had not been as a team since August 28, when they were evacuated to escape the wrath of Hurricane Ida.
As the plane landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport and a member of the crew greeted the club in New Orleans, offensive lineman James Hurst recalled after practice that week when the Saints (2-1) were preparing to host the New York Giants (0-3) on Sunday.
“Everyone is so excited to be back in town, to be one of the people in town who love us so much, to help where we can,” added Hurst. “To know that we play such a big role in the city – everyone looks at us, looks for hope on us.”
As if moving to quarterback after Drew Brees’ resignation wasn’t challenging enough, the Saints had to cancel their last preseason game and spend the first three weeks of the regular season doing temporary digs in the Dallas area.
They survived that time with two wins and are now looking forward to their first game in front of a large crowd at the Superdome since their overtime playoff loss to Minnesota two seasons ago on January 5, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit The stage went to The United States.
Jameis Winston, now Brees’ successor at the Saints, recalls the challenges of playing in front of the deafening crowds at the Superdome as a visitor to NFC South rival Tampa Bay. Now he is eagerly waiting for his first regular start to the season on the same field for the home team.
“I just think this community embraces and loves football more than many other communities,” said Winston. “It’s a culture. As a kid who grew up in Alabama, I know the Saints. I know how they live and breathe football down here. “
It wouldn’t be realistic to expect this game, emotionally speaking, to rival the first home game of the 2006 season – a year after Hurricane Katrina tore a hole in the roof of the dome on August 29, 2005 and turned 80. had flooded% of the city and displaced the Saints for an entire season.
But the atmosphere is definitely more charged than usual – the last thing the winless giants need.
“We expect one of the best atmospheres we have ever been in,” said Giants trainer Joe Judge. “This city is very proud of New Orleans, very proud of its team, and the team is very proud to represent their city. So it’s going to be a tough game for us. ”
The Saints waited until they returned to Ida so that most city services could be restored and the players could more easily move from the training camp hotel to more permanent accommodation. Still, it wasn’t ideal and there were distractions this week.
Return and recipient Deonte Harris had roof leaks that caused mold to fester on walls and ceilings.
Rookie linebacker Pete Werner was greeted by a “bad smell” at his seat. He started a four-hour process of throwing away trash and cleaning surfaces. Then he went online and bought scented candles.
“I’m a big lavender guy,” he said.
No player reported major structural damage, saying their main concern was in the harder-hit areas of the New Orleans area.
“All cosmetic,” said Cam Jordan of damage to his fence, gutters, landscaping and exterior lighting in his home. “I’m more concerned about the city, the community, and frankly, so many more families are affected than I am.”
WEARING THE GREEN POINT
Georgia-based Giants Inside Linebacker Tae Crowder has come a long way since it was the last choice in the 2020 draft. He started six games as a rookie and scored a game-winning touchdown on a fumble return against Washington. “Mr. Irrelevant” plays a big role this week. Linebacker colleague and team captain Blake Martinez is out for the season with a knee injury. Crowder receives the helmet with the green dot and takes the calls-to-play for Pat Graham’s defense.
Crowder took over Atlanta last weekend after Martinez was injured. He had a team-high 11 tackles in the 17-14 loss in their last game to the Falcons.
In games that the Saints won, they did well, made no loss of the ball, played exceptional defense, and got multiple takeaways.
The Saints still have to throw up to 200 yards in a game in the Winston era, but Winston still played passing and threw seven TDs, including a 55-yarder for Harris.
“You always want to play a balanced game, but some games may be more pass-heavy than running and some more run-heavy,” said running back Alvin Kamara. “I don’t think it’s a thing that it’s a weakness when it comes to passing by.”
With wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton starting out with hamstring injuries, the Giants could leave with backups Collin Johnson and CJ Board.
Johnson, acquired on the Jacksonville surrender, had five catches for 51 yards against Atlanta. Board, in charge of the kickoff returns, made a 38-yard catch against the Falcons.
Speedster John Ross, a free agent signer who was put in injured reserve prior to Week 1 with a hamstring problem, returned to training this week.
The Giants could also have a fourth other starter left if Ben Bredeson, who started in Week 3, can’t return from a hand injury.
Two Saints who started the offensive linemen – center Erik McCoy (calf) and left tackle Terron Armstead (elbow) – were also excluded from training due to injuries.
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