London – A New Orleans Saints offense coming off its best game of the season gets a boost this week, as receiver Drew Brees returns after a three-game suspension for an offseason driving under the influence offense.
Snead had his first regular-season practice with the team Wednesday, when New Orleans practiced at Hazelwood, the home practice facility of the London Irish, an English rugby club. The Saints (1-2) play Miami (1-1) on Sunday at Wembley Stadium at 8:30 a.m. CST.
Along with Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. , Snead was expected to help give the Saints another potent weapon on offense. New Orleans struggled offensively in its first two games without Snead, posting totals of three touchdowns and 39 points in losses to Minnesota and New England. But the Saints broke loose in Sunday’s road victory against Carolina; four touchdowns and 34 points in a 21-point win.
“He looked good,” quarterback Drew Brees said of Snead. “I think that’s a process, that’s a transition. He’s been out for a little bit now but he’s obviously a great element to what our offense can do. I’m sure there’ll be a package of stuff and we’ll try to continue to build on how we’ve gone the last three weeks. But obviously, he can be a big part of that.”
TOGETHER AS ONE: Saints players haven’t decided what form of unity they will show, or when it will be shown, in the aftermath of Sunday’s show of unity by some players, coaches and owners from almost every NFL team, in the aftermath of President Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire players who did not stand for the playing of the national anthem.
But they have discussed the matter.
“(Defensive end) Cam (Jordan) and I had a long conversation on the way over here and there’s conversations that have taken place amongst guys on the team,” Brees said. “I think we’re trying to find the best way to handle this, to show unity and yet, show respect for the flag as well. I’m not sure if it’s going to be something this week, but I’m sure it will be something at some point.”
Jordan, who has been on a USO tour for the NFL, has family members who previously served in the armed forces and is one of the Saints most dedicated contributors in community service, said the narrative of why the protest originally was enacted has gotten warped.
“Whether you felt some type of way about it or not, it was like, hey, I feel that in this kneeling, in this whatever, we still pay homage to our flag, we still pay homage to our people, we still respect our troops, we still love everything about our country,” he said.
“That does not deter from the fact that we are Americans, it’s not going to ever deter from the fact that we respect our flag. It only gives us more pride to say, this is a day and age where I can show and demonstrate something, and what’s on my mind and what’s on my heart, and prove to the world that this is an important topic to pay attention to, while trying to unify. Pushing forward, the question is how do you go forward and bring unity.
“(There’s been) a lot of negativity, a lot of positivity. Don’t get it twisted. We are the American people, we are people who pull together and are united. In this rift, there can still be understanding, and that’s what you’re really pushing for.”
Said Brees: “I think what you saw, last weekend especially, was a direct result of the comments that the president made, President Trump. Unfortunately, I think he put all athletes – all black athletes, minority athletes – he put them in a corner and forced them to take action. That was unfortunate that he made the comments that he made. And I don’t blame the guys for feeling like they needed to do something as a reaction to that.
“I think we all are very much on the same page as far as the cause is justified. It’s just the means by which whatever you want to call it – the protest, the awareness is raised – how can we do that in a respectful manner.”
ALMOST WHOLE: Snead wasn’t the only player to return to practice Wednesday, and on Sunday the Saints could be as close to the team they were projected to be coming out of training camp as they have been this season.
Right tackle Zach Strief (knee) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (concussion) also returned and worked with the starters on offense and defense, respectively, during the portion of practice that was viewed by media. The return of Strief, who missed the previous two games, means the offensive line again will adjust – rookie Ryan Ramczyk flips back to left tackle from right tackle, and Andrus Peat slides inside to left guard from left tackle – but it gives the Saints the line that they had in the season opener.
Also, left tackle Terron Armstead (shoulder) participated in some light drills, his most extensive work to date in front of the media since undergoing surgery this offseason. When Armstead returns, and his brief work Wednesday suggests it could be soon, that likely will allow Ramczyk to head to the bench and serve as a then-seasoned swing tackle behind Armstead and Strief. Ramczyk was drafted with the intent that he will take over for Strief at right tackle in the future.
Lattimore’s return bolsters a cornerback position which was depleted heading into Carolina on Sunday. The rookie started the first two games but left with his injury against New England. With Lattimore and veteran Sterling Moore (chest) out against the Panthers, the Saints activated Ken Crawley, who was inactive the first two games, and signed Arthur Maulet and Justin Hardee from the practice squad. Crawley (nine tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups) had a standout game against the Panthers.
The Saints then would have their starting cornerbacks (Lattimore and P.J. Williams) in play for Sunday. Moore also participated in stretch on Wednesday and might be available Sunday.