Jahri Evans nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023

Legendary Saints right guard and Super Bowl 44 champion Jahri Evans has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023:

Now this is cool to see. Legendary New Orleans Saints right guard and Super Bowl XLIV champion Jahri Evans has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023, making him the first Saints player from their 2009 title-winning squad with a serious, credible case at being enshrined in Canton. It’ll be a few more years before his Super Bowl-winning teammates like Drew Brees will be eligible for consideration.

Evans, 39, played his last snap in 2017 after being named to six consecutive Pro Bowls and earning four spots on the AP All-Pro first team offense, also being selected for the very exclusive Hall of Fame All-2010’s Team. He joined the Saints for training camp this summer as a coaching intern, working with the offensive line.

Still, stacked as that resume is he’ll face stiff competition with 10 finalists returning from last year’s group and 8 other strong first-year candidates, including former Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and cornerback Darrelle Revis, a seven-time Pro Bowler.

Other players nominated for the Class of 2023 who suited up for New Orleans include wide receiver Joe Horn, defensive tackle La’Roi Glover, and linebacker Pat Swilling, among others. The list will be trimmed down from 129 initial nominees to 25 semifinalists in November, with 15 finalists announced in January. Enshrinement will take place next summer.

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WATCH: Roman Harper breaks down insane App State Hail Mary TD

Roman Harper broke down App State’s huge Hail Mary touchdown pass against Troy, reflecting on how he helped save the Saints avoid a similar fate during his playing days:

Quite a few New Orleans Saints players have begun to make second careers for themselves in football media, and today we’ll be checking in on Roman Harper. The longtime starting strong safety won a Super Bowl XLIV ring with New Orleans, but these days he’s working as an analyst for the SEC Network. On Monday evening he sat down with “Thinking Out Loud” hosts Richard Johnson and Spencer Hall to recap one of the weekend’s most exciting college football games: Appalachian State’s dramatic win over Troy, one of their Sun Belt rivals, on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass.

“Who says grown men don’t cry?” Harper quipped after reviewing the game’s highlight play, complete with an all-time-great radio call from the App State press box. His brother is a Troy alum, so this wasn’t exactly a defensive performance he looks back on fondly.

“Hate that, I like to sometimes rush four, five, six,” Harper said, when examining Troy’s decision to rush three linemen and drop eight defenders into coverage. “I like to zero blitz it. I’ve actually ended a game against Cincinnati, versus the Cincinnati Bengals, I told everybody to get up out of here after the sack.”

The game Harper’s referring to there was a 2010 clash between his old Saints team and Carson Palmer’s Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. A furious fourth quarter scoring output saw the lead change twice and tie up until Marques Colston caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left in regulation to retake the lead and go up 34-30 in Cincinnati.

And the Bengals put themselves in position to win the day with a 47-yard return on the subsequent kickoff, setting up Palmer and his offense at midfield. A quick pass moved them further up field, into New Orleans territory. With eight seconds left to play and just 37 yards separating them from an upset, Palmer dropped back to pass, targeting his dynamic receiving duo of Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens (who had already combined for 11 catches and 143 yards on the day). It was a tight spot for the Saints.

But as Harper recalled, the Saints chose to pressure the quarterback. They sent him on a blitz and he dropped Palmer for a 16-yard loss as time expired, very much saving the day for New Orleans. A rare pressure player who normally lined up at safety, Harper became something of a sack artist with the Saints — he’s currently tied with defensive tackles Don Reese and Mike Tilleman to rank 31st in the franchise record books with 17 sacks (per Pro Football Reference).

Blitzing the quarterback on these desperation Hail Mary heaves has become a trademark for Saints head coach Dennis Allen, who was Harper’s position coach on that 2010 squad. Serving as defensive coordinator in 2019 and charged with protecting a 2-point lead in the final seconds, he opted to pressure Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott with a similar safety blitz, sending C.J. Gardner-Johnson in to harass the passer before he could fully read the field. Prescott flung the ball far downfield to avoid taking a sack, and it ended up being intercepted by Marcus Williams. That’s just one example.

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WATCH: Former Saints LB Manti Te’o receives warm welcome at Notre Dame

Former Saints linebacker Manti Te’o is at peace with himself and his NFL career. On Saturday, he returned to Notre Dame and received a hero’s welcome:

This is cool to see. Manti Te’o played his last down of football in the Superdome, finding a successful second life with the New Orleans Saints, but on Saturday he returned where he rose to prominence as a college star at Notre Dame. And he was welcomed back to campus by a throng of cheering fans.

Good for him. Te’o’s career experienced highs and lows, with the linebacker earning consensus All-American honors and becoming the face of Notre Dame football before his team suffered a crushing defeat to Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. He was the victim of an online catfishing scheme that did a lot to tarnish his reputation, and which became the subject of a recent Netflix documentary to accurately tell the story.

After being selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the then-San Diego Chargers, Te’o struggled to stay on the field with injuries and ended up leaving in free agency, following his old coach Mike Nolan to New Orleans. Te’o played a full 16-game season for the first time in his career in 2017, logging 10 starts, but was supplanted in the starting lineup by Demario Davis the following offseason.

He hung around with the Saints as an experienced backup for a few years and signed with the Chicago Bears in 2020 as a reserve, though he didn’t get into a game until, ironically, they visited New Orleans in the playoffs. Te’o was instrumental for the Saints in some big moments — the first that comes to mind is him and Vonn Bell stopping Washington running back Samaje Perine together on a crucial 3rd-and-1 late in their thrilling 2017 comeback win, setting up the game-tying score by New Orleans on a subsequent possession to help send the game to overtime.

Now he’s at peace and retired from pro ball, enjoying life as one of Notre Dame’s all-time fan favorites. Te’o was on hand Saturday to see the Fighting Irish go into halftime down 10-7 against California, only to rally in the second half and win the day 24-17. It was the first win of Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman’s tenure, and it’s fitting that Te’o had a front-row seat to witness it.

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Jonathan Vilma shares quality advice for Sean Payton on his broadcasting career

Jonathan Vilma had some brilliant advice for his old Saints coach Sean Payton in his turn to broadcasting:

Leave it to Jonathan Vilma to keep it real with his friends. The fan-favorite former New Orleans Saints linebacker welcomed his old coach Sean Payton to the FOX Sports broadcasting team this offseason, and on Sunday he was given the opportunity to share some tips of the trade. Payton is covering a full day of NFL games from the FOX Sports studio, while Vilma is in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium press box working the Saints’ rivalry game with the Atlanta Falcons game.

“Just do the opposite of what you did as a coach,” Vilma grinned in a video call with Payton at the studio. “Don’t be a jerk, don’t be a know-it-all, and don’t have that constipated look on your face all day on Sundays.” He and his old coach shared a laugh, but Vilma advised Payton to have fun and enjoy the new perspective on games. It was a great moment.

Vilma and Payton are still very tight given their history — having won Super Bowl XLIV together and then experienced a lot of turmoil during the NFL’s Bountygate scandal. Vilma has been a special guest of the team at times during Payton’s tenure, and now they’ll be working for the same network each week. It’s good to see one of Payton’s former players is close enough with him to chop it up like this.

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Former Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders announces his retirement — as a Bronco

Former Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders announces his retirement — as a Bronco, going out with the team that he won a Super Bowl with:

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CiNaYfLg8Pa/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Hey, this is cool. Emmanuel Sanders is stepping away from the NFL on his own terms. The former New Orleans Saints wide receiver announced his retirement on Wednesday after 12 years in the NFL, in which he suited up for five different teams, winning a Super Bowl title and earning several Pro Bowl nods. And he’s chosen to retire as a Bronco.

That’s no slight to the Saints or any of Sanders’ other teams (including the Bills, 49ers, and Steelers). He had his best years in Denver, won a championship there, and clearly loves the area — his family has continued to live there while he’s gone on to play for a couple of different franchises. It makes a lot of sense for him to put the navy and orange on one last time. And, yeah, Sanders made sure to thank New Orleans and every other organization that’s given him a chance in his announcement.

So good for him. Sanders made an immediate impact on the Saints as a veteran presence during the, ah, tumultuous 2020 campaign and stepped into a larger role than he initially signed up for after Michael Thomas went down with a Week 1 injury. He set a new personal record for receptions in a single game and shared some fun memories with Sean Payton. Sanders also brings great energy on the mic and on camera, and should have his pick of media jobs now that his playing days are behind him. We’ll keep an eye out for which outlet makes a smart hire here, but for now let’s just wish him well in retirement.

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Sean Payton predicts the Saints will win the NFC South in 2022

Sean Payton sees the Saints winning the NFC South in 2022, likes their chances in two-horse race with Tampa Bay:

Here’s a good look at Sean Payton-as-media analyst. The former New Orleans Saints coach accepted a position with FOX Sports on their studio panels for the 2022 season earlier this summer, and he made an appearance in this new capacity on the “Up & Adams Show” with Kay Adams to share his thoughts on the NFL and his old team before the season starts.

“I think D.A. is extremely bright, he’s been a head coach. I think it’s a great situation he’s coming into,” Payton said, echoing Allen’s past comments on the ready-to-compete roster and the support from Mickey Loomis as the NFL’s longest-tenured general manager. He added, “They’ve got a team I think that wins the South this year, not Tampa. I think defensively you’ll see one of the better defenses in our league this year.”

When asked for his response on NBC Sports columnist Peter King predicting the Saints will win the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, Payton zeroed in on the two-horse race in the division. “Tampa [or New Orleans], it’s gonna be one of those two teams. … Any time those two teams play, New Orleans believes they can win that game. And I think that’s pretty powerful, when you have that confidence. So I’m sure it’ll be a close race and we’ll follow it closely.”

That’s a safe diagnosis. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are both in the middle of rebuilds and shouldn’t be competitive this year, leaving the always-feisty Saints and upstart Buccaneers on top of the standings. Payton built a strong roster in New Orleans before choosing to walk away from it, and the Saints have made a point to build off of his blueprint in the months since he stepped down as their head coach. We’ll find out very soon whether or not that was the right approach.

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Sean Payton predicts the Saints will win the NFC South in 2022

Sean Payton sees the Saints winning the NFC South in 2022, likes their chances in two-horse race with Tampa Bay:

Here’s a good look at Sean Payton-as-media analyst. The former New Orleans Saints coach accepted a position with FOX Sports on their studio panels for the 2022 season earlier this summer, and he made an appearance in this new capacity on the “Up & Adams Show” with Kay Adams to share his thoughts on the NFL and his old team before the season starts.

“I think D.A. is extremely bright, he’s been a head coach. I think it’s a great situation he’s coming into,” Payton said, echoing Allen’s past comments on the ready-to-compete roster and the support from Mickey Loomis as the NFL’s longest-tenured general manager. He added, “They’ve got a team I think that wins the South this year, not Tampa. I think defensively you’ll see one of the better defenses in our league this year.”

When asked for his response on NBC Sports columnist Peter King predicting the Saints will win the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, Payton zeroed in on the two-horse race in the division. “Tampa [or New Orleans], it’s gonna be one of those two teams. … Any time those two teams play, New Orleans believes they can win that game. And I think that’s pretty powerful, when you have that confidence. So I’m sure it’ll be a close race and we’ll follow it closely.”

That’s a safe diagnosis. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are both in the middle of rebuilds and shouldn’t be competitive this year, leaving the always-feisty Saints and upstart Buccaneers on top of the standings. Payton built a strong roster in New Orleans before choosing to walk away from it, and the Saints have made a point to build off of his blueprint in the months since he stepped down as their head coach. We’ll find out very soon whether or not that was the right approach.

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Jonathan Vilma assigned to Saints-Falcons broadcast on FOX in Week 1

Legendary former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been assigned to their Week 1 FOX broadcast against the Falcons:

A familiar voice will be on the call when the New Orleans Saints kick off with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday: FOX Sports has assigned legendary former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma to its Week 1 broadcast of the game, along with his usual booth partner Kenny Albert on play-by-play and sideline reporter Shannon Spake checking in from the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. His old coach Sean Payton was hired by FOX Sports earlier this year, joining their in-studio pregame show.

Vilma has done well on the mic for Saints games in the past, sharing some insightful commentary and anecdotes from his playing career. And while most of his old Saints teammates have moved on (he last played in 2013; of that year’s Saints team, only Cameron Jordan remains after Malcolm Jenkins’ retirement with Thomas Morstead and Terron Armstead joining the Miami Dolphins) he does share a history with first-year head coach Dennis Allen.

Allen was the Saints’ secondary coach when Vilma arrived in New Orleans through a 2008 trade with the New York Jets, and they won Super Bowl XLIV together. Maybe he’s got some fun stories to share from their time together. We’re sure to get some great memories from Vilma’s experience in the storied Saints-Falcons rivalry — New Orleans went 9-3 against Atlanta when he was calling defensive plays for them.

We’ll be tuning in to find out what Vilma has in store for us. The Saints are scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET/noon CT kickoff from Atlanta United FC’s big soccer stadium, which also hosts sparsely-attended Falcons games, on Sunday, Sept. 11. It’s an ideal environment for the Saints to begin their 2022 regular season, playing against their little-brother rivals in front of a lot of visiting fans and with a friendly broadcast crew on the call. Let’s see if Allen’s Saints tenure starts off with a bang.

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WATCH: Reggie Bush, Drew Brees reminisce on their early days as Saints teammates

WATCH: Reggie Bush, Drew Brees reminisce on their early days as Saints teammates and break down Bush’s biggest hit in the NFL

Reggie Bush has put together a nice career for himself in television on the FOX Sports college football pregame show each week, and on Thursday night he was on the scene in West Lafayeete, Ind. for a season-opening tilt between the Purdue Boilermakers and the visiting Penn State Nittany Lions. And who would be in front of cameras with him if not one of Purdue’s most famous NFL alums: Bush’s old New Orleans Saints teammate Drew Brees?

The pair chopped it up in previewing the game and reminiscing on their time together in New Orleans, with Bush getting a dig in at Brees’ expense for one of the most infamous moments in his NFL career. That was when he was  absolutely bulldozed by a Philadelphia Eagles defender in their 2006 divisional round playoff game, resulting in an incomplete pass on the Saints’ opening drive and a very painful collision for the then-rookie running back.

And Brees owned up to it, crediting Bush for bouncing back from such a tough hit to not only stay in the game, but later give as good as he got with some highlights, scoring a critical touchdown run in the tight 27-24 contest. He was all smiles in looking back on how the defense, for once, got the better of him.

Brees broke down the play, gushing about its design and execution — and taking the blame for not responding as he should have, saying, “Alright Sheldon Brown (on the hit), right? Great corner. (Then-Eagles defensive coordinator) Jim Johnson, they brought zone pressure but they rolled the cloud corner behind it. So I didn’t see that. Our hot answer was the wide route.”

He watched Bush get leveled by the tackle again on replay and grinned, “Boy, you took it like a champ, look at you.” Then he and Bush shifted gears to bring up another play later in the game when Philadelphia went back to that same pressure look — but this time Brees burned them, going vertical instead of horizontal to pick up a first down. Bush added that the drive ended in a score, and the two former pros exchanged a dynamite high-five in recapping their playoff victory.

Honestly it’s everything we wanted to see out of Brees in his brief stint with NBC Sports last year. He was energized, insightful, and comfortable sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with his old teammate. Maybe, like their former coach Sean Payton, he’s best suited to work in a more casual setting like this than the buttoned-up NBC studios. It’s certainly an interesting contrast from the at-times hesitant Brees we saw providing color commentary in games a year ago. His next career move remains unclear (he was reported to be in talks with Amazon’s NFL coverage team earlier in the summer), but bright moments like this should continue to keep No. 9 on broadcasters’ radar.

Eagles claim former Saints QB Ian Book off of waivers

The Eagles claimed former Saints backup quarterback Ian Book off of waivers. Every other player waived by New Orleans cleared the process:

Well that’s interesting. The Philadelphia Eagles claimed former New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Ian Book from waivers on Wednesday, meaning he’ll back up Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew on their 53-man roster. Book, 24, was a fourth-round draft pick by New Orleans last year out of Notre Dame but was let go after struggling to improve over a tough rookie performance. Every other player waived by New Orleans cleared and is eligible to sign with the practice squad.

So that chapter is closed. Book will compete for the opportunity to hang on with Philadelphia, while the Saints keep focus on Jameis Winston as their starter. Veteran backup Andy Dalton has looked confident and comfortable in the No. 2 spot behind him over the summer. Taysom Hill is an option as an emergency QB, but look for the team to add another passer to their practice squad. They could bring back K.J. Costello, who joined them late in training camp, or former reserve Blake Bortles who has yet to find a new team upon being granted his release early this year.

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