Payton closer to sideline return

TAMPA, Fla. -- New Orleans coach Sean Payton said Wednesday he might be back on the sideline sooner than expected.

Payton suffered a knee injury and broken leg in a sideline collision with tight end Jimmy Graham in Tampa in October. Payton initially said he thought he would have to coach from the press box for most of the rest of the season.

But Payton said Wednesday in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media that his timeline might move up. Payton said he had an encouraging checkup with the doctor Wednesday.

“After today’s visit, I think a couple more weeks,’’ Payton said when asked when he might return to the sideline. “We’ve got two more games and then a bye. I think for the last six weeks of the season I’ll have a chance to get down.’’