Free Agency-Saints Capsule
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-4)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Mark Ingram, LB Manti Te'o, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, S Chris Banjo, WR Dez Bryant, OL Jermon Bushrod, DT Jay Bromley, OT Michael Ola, G...
Aqib Talib is cornerstone of Rams’ efforts to rein in Saints
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams realize they're heading into one of the NFL's most intimidating environments when they visit the top-seeded New Orleans Saints in the deafening Superdome for the NFC championship game.
Leave it to Aqib Talib, their voluble veteran cornerback, to remind his teammates about the upside of the New Orleans fans' famed investment in the game.
The gumbo the New Orleans Saints are cooking up is flavored with lots of passes from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas, plenty of runs by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and enough dashes of defense to negate the high-powered offense of the Los Angeles Rams.
Super Bowl menu could include team-inspired chili creations
Kenneth Temple is a devout New Orleans Saints fan. Ask him a question about his beloved team, and the first words from his mouth are "Who Dat? Who Dat?"
Saints WR Thomas unstoppable force for Eagles defense
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As Drew Brees sermonized his teammates in a pregame huddle, Michael Thomas hung on every word from his quarterback.
Thomas seemed mesmerized as Brees pumped up the Saints, never taking his eyes off the Saints star.
Then, Thomas ripped apart Philadelphia's defense with 12 receptions for a team playoff record of 171 yards and the winning touchdown as New Orleans beat the defending champion Eagles 20-14 Sunday to advance to the NFC championship game.
Steelers frustrated by latest costly, close loss
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Desperately needing a win, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin went for the jugular with a fake punt call late in the fourth quarter against the Saints.
Upback Roosevelt Nix came up just short, and so did the Steelers in an excruciating, infuriating 31-28 loss Sunday that may strangle their playoff hopes.
Saints narrowly upend Steelers and take top NFC seed
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees found a receiver who hadn't played most of the season to sustain a late touchdown drive. The Saints' defense found a way to force two fumbles in the fourth quarter. And New Orleans' punt-return unit stopped a fake punt less than a yard short of a conversion that might have helped Pittsburgh protect a late lead.
Reid fined again by NFL for hit that didn’t draw a flag
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers safety Eric Reid says he's been fined a fourth time this season by the NFL for an illegal hit — this time for a hit that didn't draw a flag.
The play came in Monday night's 12-9 loss to the Saints, when Reid and linebacker Luke Kuechly converged on wide receiver Michael Thomas near the sideline.
Cowboys, Saints both thriving defensively lately
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn't sound interested in reviewing how the Saints gave up 48 points in Week 1 or 37 points in Week 3.
"Early in the year, they gave up some points and yards and things like that, but you just really look at them in their last I guess three or four ballgames," Linehan said.
The more recent version of New Orleans' defense hasn't allowed more than 17 points in any of its past three games.
Saints activate Davenport, scratch Tre’Quan Smith
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints receiver Tre'Quan Smith, Drew Brees' top target just last Sunday, has been scratched from the lineup with a foot injury for Thursday night's game against Atlanta.
However, rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport, a first-round draft choice who has missed the previous three games with a sprained toe, is available to play, bolstering the pass rush.
NFL players are reprising some old, costly celebrations
NFL players seem to have run out of creative ways to celebrate.
Either that, or they've decided to pay homage to the players they grew up watching, even if it costs them some funds for injecting fun into the game.
Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was the latest to go old school when he commemorated his second touchdown in Week 10 by commandeering the CBS camera like Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco once did.
Rams CB Marcus Peters to Saints coach Payton: “Keep talking”
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Cornerback Marcus Peters criticized himself for playing poorly when his Los Angeles Rams lost at New Orleans last weekend.
That doesn't mean Saints coach Sean Payton can say anything about it, however.
FANTASY PLAYS: Finding low-owned players in daily leagues
The Rams and Saints again showed the value of stacking lineups in daily fantasy football contests as they erupted Sunday for 80 total points and more than 280 fantasy points in point-per-reception leagues.
Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp all cracked the 20-point threshold and a few savvy owners were able to fit in combinations of these players into their lineups.
Column: NFL is fun again in most surprising twist to season
Michael Thomas reached behind a goal post to pull out a flip phone in homage to a memorable touchdown celebration of the past. Benjamin Watson used his touchdown catch to let everyone know that he and his wife are expecting — and it's going to be twins.
That was cause enough for celebration itself on a feel-good weekend for the NFL. So, too, was that bettors in Las Vegas and elsewhere finally turned the tables and took the bookies for millions of dollars.
ICYMI in NFL Week 9: Saints’ Thomas phones home in key win
No real reason for everyone to flip out at what New Orleans wideout Michael Thomas did with a flip phone. He was just having a bit of fun, paying homage to former Saints receiver Joe Horne's own cell-ebration 15 years ago.
Long-distance call: Thomas helps Saints beat Rams 45-35
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When the time came to dial up a big play for Michael Thomas, the Saints' leading receiver answered the call.
He even had a flip phone planted in the padding of each goal post, just in case.
Thomas caught a late 72-yard touchdown reception and then celebrated with a cellphone in a throwback to another famous New Orleans play, and the streaking Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season with a 45-35 victory on Sunday.
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The Latest: Saints hand previously unbeaten Rams 1st loss
The Latest on Week 9 in the NFL (all times EST):
The Los Angeles Rams' undefeated run is over.
Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes and Michael Thomas had 12 receptions for 211 yards and a score in a 45-35 win for the New Orleans Saints over the previously unbeaten Rams.
New Orleans led 35-14 late in the second quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams rallied to tie it with 21 straight points.
Saints’ already potent offense widening options
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — No team has done more to limit Saints running back Alvin Kamara's influence on a game this season than New Orleans itself.
That was by design, and Kamara says he's OK with it if an increasingly dynamic offense helps the Saints keep winning.
"I'm not worried about touches, whether it's a lot or a little," Kamara said after practice Wednesday. "Just take advantage of the plays that come."
Kamara runs for 3 second-half TDs, Saints beat Giants 33-18
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — In a game when Drew Brees didn't throw a touchdown and NFL leading receiver Michael Thomas was limited to four catches, the New Orleans Saints won with other options — Alvin Kamara and a defense that didn't live up to its much-maligned status.
FANTASY PLAYS: Targeting Niners-Chargers and Colts-Texans
For the third straight week this NFL season, game stacking — playing three or more players from the same game — was an effective way to win daily fantasy tournaments.
The logic is that when a matchup turns into a shootout, there's a lot of back and forth from each team, leading to high fantasy point totals for multiple players.
Saints working to diversify Brees’ passing options
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton preaches the importance of self-scouting to avoid predictable patterns.
That could be one reason why he doesn't expect quarterback Drew Brees to keep throwing to receiver Michael Thomas quite as often as he has through the season's first two weeks, when Thomas has racked up more receptions than the rest of New Orleans' receivers and tight ends combined.
"Part of it is just, here we are, two weeks in," began Payton, whose team visits Atlanta on Sunday.
Falcons wary of defending Saints’ ‘maestro’ Drew Brees
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons may be a step ahead of the New Orleans Saints in the search for balance on offense.
That's not enough to make Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel rest easy. The Saints have Drew Brees, and the veteran quarterback's guile is enough to make any defensive coach lose sleep.
Saints narrowly prolong Browns’ winless streak 21-18
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints needed less than 10 minutes to obliterate what looked like a milestone victory for the seemingly cursed Cleveland Browns.
Wil Lutz kicked a 44-yard field goal with 21 seconds left, Cleveland kicker Zane Gonzalez pushed the second of his two missed field goals wide right in the final seconds, and the Saints held on for a 21-18 victory that extended the Browns' winless streak to 19 games.
Panthers CB Bradberry seeks breakout year vs NFL’s top WRs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers cornerback James Bradberry has set his sights on becoming an All-Pro cornerback this season.
He will certainly have the opportunity to prove he belongs in that category.
The Panthers third-year cover man will face the some of the league's best wide receivers in the coming weeks, beginning with Atlanta's Julio Jones on Sunday.
FANTASY PLAYS: 49ers-Lions an attractive high-scoring stack
With all the excitement around the NFL last weekend, it was one high-scoring Saints-Buccaneers game that brought home all the money in daily fantasy contests.
Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns, while adding another 36 yards and a score with his legs. Two of Fitzpatrick's top weapons, DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, cracked the 100-yard threshold and accounted for three of the receiving touchdowns.
Giants intend on getting Beckham the ball whenever possible
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. is back and the New York Giants plan to get him the ball whenever possible.
Playing in a game for the first time since breaking his left ankle 11 months ago, the NFL's highest-paid receiver caught 11 passes for 111 yards in the 20-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The three-time Pro Bowler also drew two pass interference calls late in the first half to set up a field goal.
Saints set to add Smith, Meredith to potent passing game
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints record-setting quarterback Drew Brees has his three most productive receiving targets back from last season — and then some.
The addition of free agent Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre'Quan Smith, combined with the four-game suspension of 2017 rushing leader Mark Ingram, has set the stage for the Saints to revert to a more pass-heavy attack — if they choose.
FANTASY PLAYS: Stacking players like Brees in daily lineups
Stacking in daily fantasy football is important because when a quarterback has a huge performance there will naturally be pass catchers who also benefit.
When a QB throws for 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns, a receiver by default will rack up yardage and scores. Pairing a QB and pass catcher together increases the potential upside for a lineup because fantasy owners get double the points each time they hook up.
Saints Preview Capsule
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-6)
New faces: LB Demario Davis, S Kurt Coleman, CB Patrick Robinson, WR Cameron Meredith, QB Teddy Bridgewater, OL Jermon Bushrod, TE Ben Watson, DE Marcus Davenport, WR Tre'Quan Smith.
Key losses: S Kenny Vaccaro, TE Coby Fleener, OL Senio Kelemete, WR Willie Snead, RT Zach Strief.
Giants Preview Capsule
NEW YORK GIANTS (3-13)
New faces: Coach Pat Shurmur, GM Dave Gettleman, RB Saquon Barkley, T Nate Solder, LB Alec Ogletree, LB Kareem Martin, G Will Hernandez, G Patrick Omameh, DL B.J. Hill, P Riley Dixon, LB Connor Barwin, DL Josh Mauro, S Curtis Riley, S Michael Thomas, WR Cody Latimer, WR Russell Shepard, LB Lorenzo Carter, QB Kyle Lauletta, RB Jonathan Stewart, DT A.J. Francis.
Ohio State experienced receivers embrace ‘elite’ challenge
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — During spring practice, coach Urban Meyer said Ohio State has failed to put an "elite" group of receivers on the field since the 2014 national championship squad that featured the likes of Devin Smith and Michael Thomas.
This season's experienced corps of receivers heard about the dig, of course, and is considering it a challenge.
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The value Saints coach Sean Payton sees in Benjamin Watson has little to do with the career-best receiving numbers the veteran tight end put up the last time he played for New Orleans in 2015.
Watson wasn't a featured receiver then, and won't likely be this season, either.
Conventional pro football wisdom suggests that pass catchers begin to hit stride in their third year. That's when some greats like Jerry Rice and Lance Allworth had their first chart-topping seasons toward Hall of Fame careers.
While it's far too early to suggest anyone from the rookie class of 2016 are locks to reach Canton, fantasy football players should take a closer look at several third-year receivers who have a chance to be highly productive this season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New coach Pat Shurmur wants the New York Giants to do the right thing when the national anthem is played before NFL games this season, and that could be a problem.
Under rules enacted by the league last week, players can stay in the locker room during "The Star-Spangled Banner," but must stand if they are on the field. Teams will be fined for violations.
That puts Shurmur and the Giants in a difficult position.
New York Giants sign cornerback William Gay
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants have signed durable cornerback William Gay.
The team announced the signing Thursday, less than a week before the start of organized team activities.
A Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick in 2007, he played in 176 consecutive regular-season and 15 postseason games through the end of the 2017 season. He spent 10 of those years with Pittsburgh, and the 2012 season with the Arizona Cardinals.
That worked out nicely, didn't it?
I admit it. I was disappointed that the Steelers didn't sign Tyrann Mathieu when he hit free agency.
A lot of that disappointment, though, was rooted in the perception that the Steelers had also already decided against signing any one of the other top-flight free agent safeties who had been sitting idle on the open market for a week.
Breakfast with Benz: Steelers may sign safety Morgan Burnett; Pitt out of Dan Hurley running?
Well this is why we created this page in this first place.
There's news in "First Call" from overnight that the Steelers may have gotten their free agent safety, even if it isn't Tyrann Mathieu.
Green Bay's Morgan Burnett is reportedly heading to Pittsburgh to finalize a deal. The story was broken by Burnett's one time Packer teammate James Jones. He now works for the NFL Network.
Burnett was deemed by most NFL analysts to be the best safety available on the market before Arizona released Mathieu.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants have signed safety Michael Thomas, who spent the last five seasons in Miami.
The move reunites Thomas with Lou Anarumo, his position coach with the Dolphins. Anarumo joined coach Pat Shurmur's staff as the defensive backs coach.
Winston re-elected president of NFL players union
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston has been unanimously re-elected as president of the NFL players union, earning his third straight three-year term.
Winston, who is scheduled to become a free agent, ran unopposed for the position. The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives announced the result Sunday at the NFLPA's annual meetings.
New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich was elected as the union's treasurer.
Miami Dolphins free agency capsule
MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: SS Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens and S Nate Allen; QBs Matt Moore and Jay Cutler; LBs Lamin Barrow and Koa Misi; G Jermon Bushrod; LS John Denney; TE Anthony Fasano; DEs Terrence Fede and William Hayes; K Cody Parkey; CB Alterraun Verner; RB Damien Williams; OT Sam Young.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB David Fales; LB Neville Hewitt; G Anthony Steen.
After a pivotal year in the NFL for propelling the issue of race relations into sports and news headlines, players and leaders reflected Friday on how progress can continue in 2018 both on and off the football field.
It may be time to evolve that movement, said Michael Thomas, a safety with the Miami Dolphins. Do we go beyond the NFL now?
New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson and his wife, Executive Officer Gayle Benson, aren’t on the sideline during the players’ stretch period, and General Manager Mickey Loomis also is absent due to another assignment (the Senior Bowl, in Mobile, Ala.).
And, too, that portion of practice took place without the musical accompaniment that usually is provided by Director of Player Engagement/D.J. Fred McAfee.
Sendejo limited in practice after concussion vs Saints
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo is working his way back from a concussion that forced him out of the previous game.
Sendejo took part in a limited portion of practice Thursday for the second straight day, after a hit to the head from New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas knocked him to the turf and out of the game. The Vikings beat the Saints to advance to the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
Saints’ Michael Thomas blasts ‘rumors’ that collision with Vikings’ Andrew Sendejo was intentional
The refs may have picked up the flag, but not everyone is convinced a late-game collision in the Saints-Vikings showdown wasn't intentional.
The collision came during a play in the second half when Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was cutting back across the field, and Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo ran toward him while looking back toward the quarterback. The pair collided, with Sendejo injured after Thomas' forearm appeared to contact the side of his helmet.
The Vikings emerged winners on Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, but one hit didn’t sit well and could have a lasting effect headed into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia next weekend.
At the end of the third quarter, New Orleans’ comeback attempt was sparked right after Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was blindsided by Saints receiver Michael Thomas. The hit left Sendejo laying on his back, seemingly in a daze, shortly before he was able to sit up and walk off the field.
The Latest: Vikings lead Saints 20-14 early in 4th quarter
The Latest on the NFL playoffs on divisional weekend (all times EST):
The Vikings expanded their lead in their divisional round game at Minnesota.
Kai Forbath's second field goal, a 49-yarder in the early in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a 20-14 lead over the Saints.
The winner advances to the NFC championship game at Philadelphia.
Drew Brees and the Saints are getting closer in their divisional round game at Minnesota.
What to expect if Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes shadows Saints WR Michael Thomas
It popped out immediately the first time Michael Thomas looked at the schedule.
Week 1. Minnesota Vikings. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes. He knew that it meant a huge test in the first game of his second season. He spent the offseason preparing for it.
“I knew that was going to be my matchup all year long,” Thomas said in September. “Monday night. Big stage against a very talented corner. We’ve been preparing since OTAs pretty much.”
The New Orleans Saints’ 31-26 victory over Carolina on Sunday in their NFC Wild Card playoff game was every bit as exhilarating as the score suggests, and then some. New Orleans (12-5) required every bit of juice it could squeeze from the 73,186 fans inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to post its third victory over the Panthers this season, and to advance to a divisional round matchup against the Vikings in Minneapolis. It wasn’t all smooth, but it was enough for the win.