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New Orleans Saints unlikely to return to practice facility this week to prep for regular-season opener

'I think that would be unrealistic'

The New Orleans Saints take the field on August 24, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

The New Orleans Saints will practice in Dallas Monday through Wednesday and then reassess afterward, but Coach Sean Payton said on Monday, Aug. 30 he does not foresee the team being at in its practice facility in seven days to begin preparation for its regular-season opener against Green Bay in the Caesars Superdome on Sept. 12.

"I honestly think in the next three days we're going to have a better feel for what our next plan is, our next step," Payton said. "And (I'm) pretty sure it's not going to be returning to Metairie any time soon to have practices, at least in the next week.

"I think that would be unrealistic. And so, I think what's more realistic is once this roster gets reduced, I kind of see these guys Wednesday taking some time away. A lot of these guys will head back to where they're from originally, maybe.

"And then, me on Wednesday telling them, 'I'll see you guys Sunday night and here's where we're going to be.' We're going to start practicing on Monday. But I don't see that realistically being in New Orleans."

The team evacuated Saturday ahead of Hurricane Ida's landfall and will practice at AT&T Stadium.

Payton also said he doesn't anticipate that the season opener would be played in Green Bay.

"We don't know relative to this starting game Week 1 in the Superdome," he said. "We haven't heard anything relative to the opening game. Obviously, we'll have a Plan B.

"There are a lot of other things from a priority standpoint that are more important for our city. But that all being said, we fully anticipate starting the regular season with Green Bay and then the question would be where that game is at. I don't see it being in Green Bay.

"I don't see that happening. I'm saying, we haven't heard relative to the thoughts and plans. Obviously, our ownership, Mrs. (Gayle) Benson, (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Mickey (Loomis), myself, we'll be looking closely at our status relative to New Orleans. We'll have a backup plan ready."

Payton said that he and team officials were well aware of the hurricane's impact on Louisiana and neighboring states.

"It's prayers, it's safety, it's all the things that we want for our neighbors, our residents," he said. "We've seen a lot of the news, we've seen a lot of the reports from there."

Initial reports on the condition of the team's practice facility have been favorable. Still, with New Orleans and surrounding areas under the stress of recovery, with various areas lacking water and electricity possibly for weeks, the Saints must continue their preparations elsewhere.

That includes a roster trim, from 80 to 53 players, by 3 p.m. Tuesday, after having lost one final evaluation segment due to the cancellation of the preseason finale against Arizona on Saturday.

"You're disappointed because, I think for a handful of players it was an important part of the evaluation process," Payton said. "You would see those games and someone says, this is important because a handful of positions are still up in the air. That truly is the case.

"And so we've got to find our best way in a short period of time, and obviously you can't get that game back. It's one less game or opportunity where you have to evaluate players."

Also, the releases must now be carried out under circumstances that are much different than usual.

"I don't like it," Payton said. "I brought it up in the team meeting this morning. I don't like the environment relative to within the next 24 hours, reducing the rosters with all the families here. I think that's challenging. We talked about it as a team and I say, hey, you've just got to understand that there's a lot of good about us being here. But there are challenges when it comes to jobs that are on the line and we're going to do our best to take care of everyone."

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