Fort Worth, Texas – All signs point to the Saints returning to New Orleans on Sept. 26, after their road game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Coach Sean Payton said Friday that the Saints' plans have solidified and the team actually will end its stay in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where it evacuated for Hurricane Ida, on Sept. 24.
"From a scheduling standpoint, our plan is to return here (to Dallas) next week, leave early for New England and then back to New Orleans after the Patriots game," Payton said. "The New England trip is a little further, so I see ourselves leaving Friday p.m. for New England.
"We'll get a walk-through up there, play them on Sunday, and then after New England fly back in to New Orleans. That's the current plan."
The Saints' football operations has based in Texas since Aug. 28, when the team evacuated prior to Ida's landfall in Louisiana.
COVID UPDATE: There's a possibility that the five offensive coaches who contracted Covid-19 and have been quarantined away from the team this week will be present for Sunday's game against Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The affected coaches include offensive line coach Brendan Nugent, senior offensive assistant/receivers coach Curtis Johnson, running backs coach Joel Thomas and running game coordinator/tight ends coach Dan Roushar.
"I'm going to say what I think would have to happen, and I think there's a chance this can happen," Payton said. "They're taking an extensive test today, we get the results back in the evening. If someone today was negative, then tomorrow morning's second test, which is a rapid-result test, is negative, they would be able to (travel to the game). They've got to go two-for-two in the next two days in order to make that Saturday flight. And we don't get today's result back until later on."
Meanwhile, he said the adjustment without them has gone smoothly.
"It's not always what you're used to and yet, those guys are zooming in to the evening meetings as we put in offense (Thursday) night," he said. "The No. 1 thing is they're getting rested and getting healthy, that's the No. 1 thing. They get tested every day and in the meantime, there's others here that are picking up additional work. We're meeting more collectively than we are all broken up into our groups. I think overall it's gone as well as can be expected."
GAME-TIME DECISION: Payton said cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who did not practice Wednesday and practiced on a limited basis Thursday, will be a game-time decision against Carolina with his injured hand.
"It has more to do with the actual injury," Payton said. "You go back to the history. What's the injury itself? We'll see how he does today. He's going to be probably one of those guys that's a gametime decision. He's moving around well, he's in shape. Just a matter of the type of injury each person has and what position they're playing."