Saints take on Lions, hope to snap two-game skid
New Orleans could have All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas back in action this weekend. The Saints also hope their defensive focus will return.
The Saints gave up 34 points to Las Vegas and 37 to Green Bay in dropping their last two games. New Orleans now goes on the road to confront the Detroit Lions’ potent passing game on Sunday.
Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in the season-opening victory over Tampa Bay and has missed the last two games. He practiced in a limited basis on Wednesday.
Unless the Saints (1-2) do a better job of stopping the opponent, Thomas’ status won’t matter that much. They allowed the Packers, who were missing top receiver Davante Adams, to score on three passing touchdowns while recording only one sack and failing to force a turnover.
“We need to have better eyes. We know we need to have much better eyes relative to what we’re doing,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Honestly, we looked like a high school team defending the bootleg the other night and that was kind of embarrassing. So that has to get corrected.”
Detroit (1-2) won its first game last weekend, edging Arizona on the road, 26-23. That coincided with the return of Kenny Golladay. The team’s standout receiver sat out the first two games with a hamstring injury. He caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals.
“The first thing that comes to mind is his downfield, scoring threat. He is a big play target,” Payton said. “He had great production a year ago. (Head coach) Matt (Patricia) has a ton of confidence in him and if you just look at his numbers from a year ago, I think it’s pretty evident.”
What’s also become apparent is that Adrian Peterson still has something left in the tank. The 13-year veteran was released by Washington late in camp and the Lions surprisingly signed him, despite using two high draft picks on running backs the last three seasons.
Peterson is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
“I’ve told you, this guy is a freak of nature now. I don’t know where that wall is or where he’s going to hit it. The guy is always asking for more,” Detroit offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He is in great shape. He takes care of his body. He does all those little things to set himself up for that success.”
Saints running back Alvin Kamara has done big things this season. He has racked up six touchdowns (three rushing, three receiving) and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He has also gathered in 27 Drew Brees passes.
“Obviously, we want to have balance and that’s something that we look to have in each game, the ability to run the football,” Payton said. “But yes, he’s playing well for us and he’s an explosive player. We need to continue to look at ways of getting him the ball in his hands.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for an average of 270.3 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Brees is averaging 253.3 yards per game with six touchdowns against one pick.
The Saints have some other personnel concerns besides Thomas. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (illness), tight end Jared Cook (groin) and guard Andrus Peat (ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice.
For the Lions, cornerback Desmond Trufant was limited in practice Wednesday after missing the past two games. Trufant injured his hamstring in Week 1.
–Field Level Media