Payton accepts blame for not wearing mask on sidelines, addresses Saints issues ahead of Packers test

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In a weekly press briefing Wednesday, Saints head coach Sean Payton commented on being fined by the NFL for not wearing a mask enough during the New Orleans loss Monday night at Las Vegas.

“I’ve just got to do a better job when we’re not on offense,” Payton said. “It’s okay if you’re pulling it down when you’re calling plays but what happens is, I get caught up in the game and half the time, forget that it’s down so I’ve just got to be more diligent with it.

“It’s something we’re just going to have to remind ourselves to do,” Payton added. “Maybe you change the type of mask you’re wearing. It’s easier, I think, if you have the gaiter on. You lose track that it’s just around your neck. Like anything else, we’ll find a way to be more diligent with it.”

As for the game, the Saints enter week three as the leading the league in the most penalty yards by far with 248 yards on 16 penalties, which ranks second most in the NFL (Arizona has 20). The Cardinals have the second most penalty yards with 199.

“We’ve got to (coaches) be better during the week,” Payton said. “When you get in games that are going to be close, there’s too many yards there in penalties. Obviously, we’re near the bottom of the league and so that’s the bad news. The good news is it’s only two weeks in. It will be a lot more concerning going forward if it continues so we’ve got to work harder at it, we’ve got to coach it better and reduce those fouls.”

Peyton said that while officiating crews can differ with how they call holding or pass interference penalties, there is a simple solution to the rash of penalties on the New Orleans secondary thus far this season.

“We’ve got to work on better technique and a better job with our eyes and not relying on some of the holding fouls or PI (pass interference) calls that we’re getting. Those are the ones that jump out, unusually high.”

Emmanuel Sanders has just four catches for 33 yards with a touchdown through two games. Is Peyton concerned about Sanders’ lack of production from Emmanuel Sanders at this early point of the season?

“We’re two weeks in,” Peyton said. “I see him being a big part of what we do. We didn’t have enough snaps the other night, unfortunately. The time of possession was a big factor in it. His touches are going to come.”

Peyton said receivers must do a better job at spacing in their route trees.

The Saints and Packers were both 13-3 a year ago and both are perennial contenders to reach the Super Bowl but each has won just one in their current era.

“They’re a good football team and obviously, it’s difficult to get to that final game,” Payton said. “Anyone who’s been in this league understands that. They’ve got an outstanding quarterback. They put up fantastic numbers in the first two weeks. Like every team in the offseason, they tinkered with some things. They’re playing real good football at a high level.”

With no fans in the stands, you can hear much of what goes from field level. One Saints player who has been heard is linebacker Craig Robertson.

“I love his enthusiasm,” Payton said. “When you’re playing, you’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm. His energy is contagious. He’s one of our leaders and I think you can’t help but notice the way he plays, even when he’s not in the game.”

Payton knows it will be tough generating pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

“They do a great job of getting the ball out,” Payton said. “You’ve got guys like Bahktari in there and Lindsey at center. It’s an experience group. They clearly are on the same page with the quarterback, relative to the pickup. Much like Drew, the ball comes out. Aaron is someone who’s difficult to pressure and get your hands on because of his quick release, his awareness and understanding of the defense, where the free rusher might be.”

The Saints and Packers square off Sunday night at 7:20 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan


Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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