New Orleans Saints place Marcus Davenport, Kwon Alexander on IR; 7 coaches out vs. Panthers for COVID-19 protocols

FORT WORTH (Texas) -- Due to COVID-19 protocols, the New Orleans Saints will not have seven assistant coaches in Carolina Sunday. At least three of their starters are expected to be out with injuries.
Marcus Davenport, defensive end (shoulder), and Kwon Alexander, linebacker (elbow), were placed on injured reserve Friday. They will be out of action for at least three more weeks. For Sunday's game, center Erik McCoy (calf), and backup linebackers Pete Werner and Chase Hansen (hamstring) were also ruled-out.

Marshon Lattimore, the Pro Bowl cornerback, will be able to play Sunday despite having thumb surgery earlier in the week. Lattimore has been listed as questionable following limited practice on Thursday and Friday. Coach Sean Payton stated that he would likely be a "game time decision."

After testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, the Saints ruled out the coaches on Friday afternoon. The Saints will be without Brendan Nugent, the offensive line coach, Curtis Johnson wide receivers coach, tight ends coach Dan Roushar and Joel Thomas running backs coach, as well as offensive analyst Jim Chaney, Declan Doyle, Phil Galiano, special-teams assistant, and offensive assistant Brendan Nugent.

Payton stated that all coaches had been vaccinated so that they can return to work after they have received two negative tests within 24 hours. They didn't get to travel on Saturday because of this.

Payton joked that he, Pete Carmichael Jr. as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry, and Zach Strief as assistant offensive line coach were like Ted Lasso's small coaching staff, while other position coaches have joined them via videoconferences.

Jermon Bushrod is a former Pro Bowl left tackle who has volunteered his time to help the Saints. He joined the team as a coach/scout with the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Bushrod was helping with practice's tight ends.

Payton stated, "It's different from what you're used too, but those guys are Zooming in meetings, they're Zooming in evening meetings as we put into offense and defense." "And the No. They're getting more sleep and are getting healthier. They are tested each day and there are others who can help them. Our groups are meeting more together than they were individually. Overall, I believe it has gone as smoothly as you can expect."

Terron Armstead, Saints left tackle, said Payton is "kind of getting back to his early days" this week and has also been more hands-on with different position groups.

He's running around. Armstead stated that he coaches every position. He's enjoying the challenge of coaching without some great minds on our staff. He is relying on veterans and older men to assist him where needed. His energy has been high. Sean is the perfect example of this. Sean is not one to make excuses for any circumstance, and this attitude rubs off on his team.

Kwon Alexander, Saints linebacker, has suffered an elbow injury. This is his latest setback. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

These are disappointing setbacks in the case of Alexander and Davenport, who have both suffered a series injuries over their entire careers.

Alexander just completed a remarkable recovery from the torn Achilles that he sustained in December and was able to return to work in Week 1. Before being traded to the Saints, he also had a torn pectoral in 2019 with the San Francisco 49ers and a sprained foot in 2020.

Davenport was injured in the toe, foot, and elbow. He missed 12 games during his three first seasons with Saints.

Payton Turner, the Saints first-round draft pick for defensive end, and Zack Baun, second-year linebacker, will be among those who need to take on more prominent roles.

Lattimore sustained a thumb injury during Sunday's 38-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers. This was the same day that he signed a 5-year, $97.6-million contract extension.

Payton was asked what factors go into determining when a player is allowed to play after sustaining a hand injury while wearing protection.

"If you look back at the history, what is the injury?" Payton stated. "We'll be watching how he performs today [in Friday practice]." He'll be a game-time player. He is moving well. He is in good shape. It all depends on the injury and position that each person is in.

Lattimore is crucial to New Orleans' defense against division rivals that includes standout wide receivers Robby Anderson and DJ Moore. The Saints will be without veteran cornerback Bradley Roby, who was acquired in a trade last week from the Houston Texans. Paulson Adebo, a rookie cornerback, was able to intercept Aaron Rodgers from the Packers.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson (knee), Tanoh Kpassagnon (calf), and P.J. (reserve defensive back) are all listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Williams (back), are also questionable for Sunday's match.