Aug 17, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Kellen Mond (7) looks for a receiver against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB Kellen Mond agrees to terms with Saints

The New Orleans Saints and quarterback Kellen Mond have agreed to contract terms.

The team announced the deal on Friday without any details of the length or financial value.

The Saints have been on the lookout for a backup QB this offseason after the departure of Jameis Winston to the Cleveland Browns as a free agent.

They previously signed journeyman Nathan Peterman and also have Jake Haener, a 2023 fourth-round pick, on board as a prospective understudy to Derek Carr.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Mond in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

He spent his first season with the Vikings, was with the Cleveland Browns briefly in 2022 and spent much of 2023 on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad. He has appeared in one regular-season game, completing two passes for 5 yards at Green Bay in Week 17 of 2021.

Mond, 24, was a four-year starter at Texas A&M and threw for 9,661 yards, 71 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) dives for a touchdown, under defensive pressure from Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53), on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Saints RB Alvin Kamara (illness) questionable vs. Bucs

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara missed practice on Friday due to an illness.

He is questionable for Sunday’s NFC South clash between the Saints (7-8) and host Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7).

Kamara, 28, leads New Orleans with 1,111 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in 12 games (11 starts).

The five-time Pro Bowl selection has 5,784 rushing yards, 4,215 receiving yards and 77 TDs in 100 games (69 starts) since the Saints drafted him in the third round in 2017.

–Field Level Media

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates his pass for a touchdown score to wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) during the second quarter of an NFL football matchup Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts 37-20. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

‘Confident’ Jaguars ready to face struggling Saints

The Jacksonville Jaguars are heading in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are struggling.

The Jaguars will try to win their fourth straight game when they visit the Saints, who have lost three of their last four games, on Thursday night.

“Their confidence is extremely high right now,” Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said of his players.

The Jaguars (4-2) started the season 1-2, then won back-to-back games in London against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills before returning home to beat the Indianapolis Colts last week and claim sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

Jacksonville leads the NFL with 15 takeaways and is second in turnover margin (plus-seven) and third in run defense (75.3 yards allowed per game).

“The team really in these last three weeks kind of figured some things out, figured out who we are as a football team,” Pederson said. “We’re beginning to eliminate some of those mistakes that happened early in the season.”

Pederson said quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who injured his left knee late in the game against the Colts and was limited at practice on Tuesday, would be a game-time decision. If Lawrence doesn’t play, C.J. Beathard would start in his place.

Pederson also said cornerback Tyson Campbell (hamstring) likely will miss the game after missing practice Tuesday. Guard Brandon Scherff (ankle), wide receiver Zay Jones (knee) and offensive tackle Walker Little (knee) also missed practice.

Linebacker Foye Oluokun warned that with the nature of the NFL, if the Jaguars don’t approach this game the same way they did the last three, the winning streak could easily end.

“It’s a week-to-week business,” Oluokun said. “So whatever we did last week is really pointless going forward because any team could beat you in the NFL. If you don’t bring in the right mindset going forward into next week and throughout the whole week of practice, a team can jump out on you.”

New Orleans (3-3) played its most complete game of the season in a 34-0 victory at New England two weeks ago, but offensive shortcomings that had plagued it going back to last season returned in a 20-13 loss at Houston last week.

On the Saints’ last three possessions, they reached the Texans 11, 15 and 24, but came away without any points. The threats ended with a missed 29-yard field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception.

New Orleans has scored touchdowns on just 36.8 percent of its red-zone opportunities (28th in the NFL).

“That’s something that has to improve,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “That’s been our issue. We’ve been able to move the ball effectively at times this season and yet something happens that prevents us from being able to score touchdowns down there.”

The Saints outgained the Texans 430-297 but could not catch up after managing just two field goals after the first quarter.

Quarterback Derek Carr attributed some of the offense’s failures to communication issues.

“It’s not going the way I expected,” he said, “but we’re still 3-3 and a game out of first place.”

Saints star linebacker Demario Davis (knee) missed practice Tuesday, as did starting offensive linemen Ryan Ramczyk (concussion) and James Hurst (ankle).

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Saints use run game to rally past Browns in high winds

Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill each ran for a touchdown and the visiting New Orleans Saints shut out the Cleveland Browns in the second half of a 17-10 victory Sunday.

Neither team passed the ball effectively as the game was played in single-digit temperatures with winds gusting to about 30 miles per hour.

Hill and Kamara scored their touchdowns in the third quarter as the Saints (6-9) held the Browns (6-9) to 33 yards in the quarter.

Andy Dalton passed for 92 yards with an interception for New Orleans. Deshaun Watson passed for 135 yards with an interception and rushed for Cleveland’s only touchdown.

Watson, making his fourth start of the season after serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, drove the Browns to the Saints’ 15-yard line in the final minute but on fourth down was sacked by Carl Granderson.

The Saints drove 67 yards in nine plays on the first possession of the third quarter, tying the score at 10 on Hill’s 8-yard run.

After an exchange of punts Daniel Sorensen intercepted Watson at the New Orleans 49 and returned to the Cleveland 15. Four plays later, Kamara ran 4 yards for a touchdown that gave the Saints their first lead, which held up the rest of the way.

Each team had a temporary field-position advantage during a scoreless first quarter. On their second possession, the Browns reached the Saints’ 43 before punting.

New Orleans reached the Cleveland 45 before Dalton’s pass bounced off the hands of Juwan Johnson and into the hands of safety Grant Delpit, who returned it 40 yards to the Saints 30.

Five plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, Watson ran 12 yards for a touchdown.

Cleveland drove 60 yards in 17 plays and Cade York kicked a 30-yard field goal to increase the lead with 4:07 left in the half.

Wil Lutz kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired to put New Orleans within 10-3 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Austin Reed (16) scrambles out the pocket against the South Alabama Jaguars during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

WKU’s offense overwhelms South Alabama in New Orleans Bowl

Austin Reed threw for 497 yards and four touchdowns as Western Kentucky flew past South Alabama 44-23 at the New Orleans Bowl on Wednesday.

Western Kentucky led 31-3 at halftime thanks to its up-tempo offense and cruised to its third bowl victory in the past four years. Dalvin Smith caught six passes for 145 yards and a touchdown and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass for the Hilltoppers (9-5).

Malachi Corley had 11 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns for Western Kentucky, and Jaylen Hall added nine receptions for 138 yards and a score. Reed completed 36 of 55 passes and was intercepted once.

Carter Bradley finished 36 of 53 for 360 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as South Alabama (10-3) failed to earn the program’s first bowl victory. The teams combined for 1,098 total yards, 677 by Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers scored 1:49 into the game when a wide-open Smith hauled in a 44-yard touchdown to conclude the opening drive. They went 80 yards in just 1:36 on their next possession, when Reed connected with Joey Beljan for a 27-yard score to make it 14-0.

Early in the second quarter, the Hilltoppers struck again using a double pass. Reed tossed the ball to Smith, who flicked it down the right sideline to Hall to make it 21-0. Cory Munson chipped in a 23-yard field goal with 9:32 remaining before halftime.

South Alabama had a shot at the end zone for the first time on its fifth drive, but Kaleb Oliver intercepted a wobbly pass by Bradley. The Jaguars’ Yam Banks struck back with a leaping, one-handed interception of Reed in the end zone minutes later.

Diego Guajardo’s 30-yard field goal got the Jaguars on the board with 1:38 before halftime, but Reed guided the Hilltoppers to the doorstep again. The Jaguars nearly kept them out of the end zone, but penalties on the defense allowed for an untimed down, and Reed shoveled a pass to Corley on a jet motion play for a 1-yard touchdown.

Reed had compiled 329 passing yards and three touchdowns by halftime.

South Alabama engineered its first touchdown drive to start the second half, with DJ Thomas-Jones catching a 10-yarder to make it 31-10.

Western Kentucky needed just 1:38 to score its final touchdown, however. Corley danced into the end zone on a wide-open 39-yard catch late in the third quarter.

The Hilltoppers were held to two 31-yard field goals the rest of the way. For South Alabama, running back La’Damian Webb caught a 5-yard TD pass late in the third and Devin Voisin (11 catches, 153 yards) grabbed an over-the-shoulder, 12-yard score with 6:01 to play.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (90) tackles Baltimore Ravens running back Kenyan Drake (17) in the end zone as he makes a touchdown during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens soar by Saints to win third straight

Kenyan Drake rushed for two touchdowns and Lamar Jackson passed for one as the Baltimore Ravens won their third consecutive game by defeating the host New Orleans Saints 27-13 on Monday night.

Jackson completed 12 of 22 passes for 133 yards and rushed 11 times for 82 yards, finishing 11 yards shy of Drake’s team-leading total, as the Ravens (6-3) possessed the ball for 37:47 of the game.

The Baltimore defense was bolstered by the debut of linebacker Roquan Smith, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago last week, and the activation of linebacker Tyus Bowser, who hadn’t played this season because of an Achilles injury. It kept the Saints (3-6) out of the end zone for more than 55 minutes and limited them to 243 total yards, including just 48 rushing.

The Ravens held running back Alvin Kamara, who had 158 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a victory against Las Vegas last week, to 30 yards on nine rushes and 32 yards on three receptions.

Andy Dalton passed for 210 yards, completing 19 of 29 passes.

On the first possession of the third quarter, the Ravens drove to Justin Tucker’s 32-yard field goal that increased their lead to 17-3.

On the ensuing possession, Wil Lutz’s 33-yard field goal trimmed the lead to 17-6 by the end of the third quarter.

Tucker added a 41-yard field goal with 8:31 remaining and on the first play of the following possession, Justin Houston intercepted Dalton, setting up Drake’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Dalton threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson with 4:13 left.

Jackson threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely to give Baltimore a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Drake’s 1-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 14-0 before Lutz kicked a 33-yard field goal on the last play of the half to cut the lead to 14-3 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Nov 17, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Saints promote DC Dennis Allen to head coach

The New Orleans Saints have promoted defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to become the team’s next head coach, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Allen has served as the Saints’ defensive coordinator since 2015, though his experience with the organization dates back further. He was originally hired as the team’s assistant defensive line coach in 2006 and held multiple titles through 2010.

A successful one-year stint as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in 2011 led to his hiring by the Oakland Raiders as their head coach in 2012. Allen lasted less than three years in that role, compiling a record of 8-28 before he was fired four games into 2014.

His second stint with the Saints was beneficial to both parties, however. After years of defensive struggle, Allen turned the Saints around in his second full season as coordinator in 2017, getting the Saints into the top half of the league in points and yardage allowed.

He eventually led New Orleans to back-to-back top-10 finishes in yards and points allowed in 2020-21.

Overall, the Saints finished in the top half of the league on defense for five straight seasons under his stewardship. He’ll also bring continuity to an organization that has enjoyed five straight winning seasons.

Allen succeeds Sean Payton, who stepped away from coaching on Jan. 25 with a franchise-best 152-89 record (.631) over 15 seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) against Dallas Cowboys defensive end Tarell Basham (93) during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Jets, Saints both hope ‘rough’ times are behind them

The New Orleans Saints have lost five games in a row and the New York Jets have lost four of five.

Both teams will try to snap out of their slumps when they meet Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

But both the Saints (5-7) and the Jets (3-9) have been significantly hampered by a series of injuries to key players.

The Saints’ last win came on Halloween in a 36-27 victory against Tampa Bay in which quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury.

The first four losses of this streak came with Trevor Siemian starting in Winston’s place. Taysom Hill, who had been sidelined by a concussion and a foot injury, started the last game, suffered a ligament injury in the middle finger of his throwing hand and played through it in a 27-17 home loss to Dallas on Dec. 2.

Hill threw four interceptions, three of which came on successive fourth-quarter possessions. He also ran for a career-high 101 yards.

“All the positives were overshadowed by the turnovers,” said Hill, who was a full participant in practice Wednesday.

Head coach Sean Payton didn’t say that Hill will start against the Jets, but that seems likely.

“I was pretty comfortable making all of the throws today,” Hill said after practice. “I was encouraged, but it’s still a work in progress.”

So is the offense, as seven starters have been sidelined by injury. Left tackle Terron Armstead and star running back Alvin Kamara returned to practice on a full-time basis Wednesday. At the same time, backup running back Mark Ingram II was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, where he joined defensive end Cameron Jordan.

“We had a tough stretch, (but) it’s behind us,” Payton said. “No one’s going to be upset or feel sorry for you. We have to be able to pick ourselves up here and get ready to play some good football in this last five-week stretch of the season.”

The Jets had eight players who did not participate in practice Wednesday — on top of wide receiver Corey Davis, who will miss the rest of the season after aggravating a core-muscle injury during a 33-18 loss to Philadelphia last week.

They have 15 players on injured reserve and eight veteran free agents they signed during the offseason are now out for the rest of the season.

“This organization has been through a rough time over the last 10 years,” first-year coach Robert Saleh said. “It’s not something that’s easy to fix. It’s not easy to change the narrative. It’s not easy to change the perception.”

New York ranks last in the NFL in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense in addition to being 30th in run defense.

“We have to change the narrative by our play,” defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi added. “Our level of play has to rise and continue to strive to do better.”

Saleh, who was hired after a successful four-year stint as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, took responsibility for fixing the defense.

“I do look at coaches to get this fixed,” Saleh said.

The Jets allowed an average of 24.2 points during the first five games, but have allowed an average of 35.1 since, including games of 54, 45 and 45 points. In the last three games, though, the average has been 23.7.

“When you’re dealing with a young team,” Saleh said, “there are going to be some ebbs and flows, but we see guys getting better and taking the right steps.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ Cameron Jordan placed on COVID-19 list, Deonte Harris suspended

The New Orleans Saints placed defensive end Cameron Jordan on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday following a positive test, according to multiple media reports.

In addition, the team will be without wide receiver Deonte Harris for nearly a month, as Harris was suspended three games by the NFL for a summer DWI arrest.

Jordan, one of the Saints’ longtime defensive leaders, has yet to miss a game in 11 NFL seasons, all in New Orleans. The 32-year-old six-time Pro Bowler has posted four sacks, a forced fumble and 38 tackles in 2021, a noticeable downturn in statistics from recent seasons.

He’ll have the opportunity to register two negative tests prior to the team’s road game with the New York Jets on Sunday to keep his playing streak (now 172 straight games) intact.

Harris, 24, registered a blood-alcohol level of .246 when he was arrested in July, more than three times the legal limit, per reporting from NOLA.com.

He is the team’s second-leading receiver in terms of receptions (31) and the team’s leader in yards (523) while notching three touchdown receptions.

Harris is also the team’s primary return man, having fielded 17 of the team’s 21 punt returns and 25 of the Saints’ 31 kick returns.

In addition to the Jets game, Harris will also miss a road game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 19 and a home game with the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 27 for the Saints (5-7).

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Taysom Hill inks ‘unique’ deal with Saints

New Orleans Saints utility player Taysom Hill, who has split time between quarterback, tight end, wide receiver and special teams throughout his five-year pro career in New Orleans, has received a new contract extension that reflects that hybrid role.

Per ESPN, the Saints and Hill have agreed to a contract that will pay him between $40 million and $95 million. The eventual dollar amount is contingent on the position that he ends up playing.

The “unique” four-year deal will pay Hill more should he become the Saints’ starting quarterback within the next four seasons and see regular time at that position. The incentives are designed to reward that scenario.

The Saints were motivated to reach an extension as Hill’s contract was set to expire at the conclusion of this season and the team would have carried an $8.9 million dead cap hit in 2022 even if he wasn’t on the roster.

Hill, 31, has attempted just eight passes this year, completing seven for 56 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Trevor Siemian has received the bulk of snaps under center for New Orleans since regular starter Jameis Winston suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8. Siemian has thrown for 920 yards on 56.9 percent passing with eight touchdowns against two interceptions.

Before his injury, Winston threw for 1,170 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions on 59 percent passing.

For his career, Hill has completed 101 of 142 passed for 1,103 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions, with most of those stats coming in 2020. He’s also rushed for 913 yards on 171 carries with 14 touchdowns and has 34 career receptions for 388 yards and seven touchdowns.

–Field Level Media