London – Coach Sean Payton was in full support of how New Orleans Saints players resolved to handle the issue Sunday of presenting a unified front at Wembley Stadium, while also calling attention to the reasons that NFL players originally had chosen to protest.
Quarterback Drew Brees took to Twitter on Friday morning to share that Saints players would kneel together prior to the playing of the national anthem, then stand during the playing of the anthem.
“Those guys met and like with anything with the team, it’s something that they and all of us felt that we want to be unified,” Payton said. “I think that’s good. We’ve got good leadership and I think it’s a good thing.”
*POSITIVE REVIEWS: *The Saints practiced at Hazelwood Center, home of the London Irish, an English rugby club, on Wednesday through Friday and found the facilities to their liking.
“It’s been good,” Payton said. “The people have been fantastic. There’s a lot of work that goes into a week like this. The facilities, the fields here, have been in great shape. Property and security, all of that has been outstanding. It’s enabled us to really focus on this game and the team we’re getting ready to play, and I think it’s been a real smooth transition.”
He said that the Saints were able to put together a plan that they felt best would allow them to maximize their performance, including coming directly to England following Sunday’s victory over Carolina in Charlotte, N.C.
“We came early the last time (in 2008) and we kind of liked the schedule,” Payton said. “The key is finding the hotel and finding the fields. The place here is outstanding. The grass field – we stayed on the one field, there are two others we could have used. The hotel location, all of it, it’s been good for us.”
*WORKING BACK INTO A GROOVE: *Receiver Drew Brees is expected to play Sunday following his return from a three-game suspension. Snead’s experience in the offense (he caught 141 passes for 1,879 yards the previous two seasons, and spent part of 2014 on the Saints’ practice squad) made for an easier comeback route.
“He’s an experienced guy so the transition for him, obviously with his intelligence, was smooth,” Payton said. “It’s good to have him back and we’ll sort through what we want to do in regards to this game and then moving forward the same way.
“I thought he moved around well (in practice). He’s someone that is extremely smart, knows what to do and it’s good having him back.”
*TAKE THE LEAD: *With fullback John Kuhn now gone for the season (injured reserve with a biceps injury), the Saints may have to use tight ends as lead blockers Sunday against Miami. That was the case against Carolina, also: New Orleans went to a tight end when it wanted a lead blocker because Kuhn had been released prior to the game. That allowed the Saints to sign a couple of defensive backs from their practice squad (Arthur Maulet and Justin Hardee) in order to replenish a group that was missing two regulars (Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore) against the Panthers.
Lattimore (concussion) is back this week, while Moore (chest) was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.
As for using tight ends as lead blockers, Payton said, “We’ve done that. It just depends on what you’re wanting to do in regard to run and pass.”