Sean Payton said running back Mark Ingram has a chance to play in the New Orleans Saints’ next game in Week 7 at the Detroit Lions, though Payton remained vague on tight end Jimmy Graham’s status during an interview with CBS Sports Radio’s “TBD In The Morning” on Wednesday.
Payton said Ingram remains in a cast after breaking his hand in Week 2. But he believes Ingram could return after the Week 6 bye with a smaller, padded cast on the hand.
“With the fracture that he had, which is right where the thumb and the hand kind of go together, you gradually just reduce what he’s having to wear. And he’s probably, I would say three or four weeks away from not having to wear anything,” Payton said. “But right now, there’s a chance he plays in the next game.”
As for Graham, who suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Payton was less specific.
“He’s doing fine. Look, he’s sore. It’s a shoulder. The bye comes at a perfect time for him,” Payton said.
But when asked if Graham could play in Week 7, Payton repeated his reply from the other day: “We’ll see.”
Payton touched on several topics on the show, which is co-hosted by one of his former players, Tiki Barber. Payton had a a more detailed response to the video glimpse of Payton yelling at defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the sideline in Week 2 after the defense committed a pre-snap penalty.
As Payton has said, that type of sideline outburst is very common (and a similar example even happened with Drew Brees after one of his interceptions this past week). But that particular exchange with Ryan has continued to be mentioned for the past month as the Saints’ defense has continued to struggle.
Payton said his relationship with Ryan is “outstanding.”
“Listen, he’s someone I love. I love his passion. Here’s what you don’t know. If you spend enough time doing it, you’re gonna find that little clip, just insert assistant coach,” Payton said. “In other words, you saw that clip with Rob. There’s hundreds of that video available with (special teams coordinator) Greg McMahon and I, there’s a ton of that video available with offensive line coach Bret Ingalls. Just insert a coach, and that’s how we are on game day. Listen, I’m that way and have been. It’s an emotional game. And look, he’s doing well.”
Barber added, “It’s true; I can vouch.”
Payton was also asked if anything is ailing Brees physically, as the quarterback hasn’t been as consistent this season.
“I think he’s feeling good,” Payton said. “I think he, like the rest of us, is anxious to have a little bit of rest, but certainly anxious to get back and play better this next stretch of the season. He’s extremely competitive. He’s got an amazing routine with what he does. He’s doing just fine.
“We’ve got to make sure the picture we’re painting around him is perfect. I think, A, (this past Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay) was a game in which we got some pressure inside. They did a good job of pushing the pocket. He hung in there on some throws. I think we need to have a little bit more balanced (between throws and runs). So all those things can contribute to playing better at that position.
“Playing better defense is the No. 1 ally of a quarterback, so that you don’t feel like you’re having to score every time you have the football. A good running game, a good defense, those are two things that really reduce the stress at that position.”