METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri on Wednesday after it was discovered that cornerback Delvin Breaux had a fracture in his fibula that was originally diagnosed as a bruise.
"I think it's not one event, it probably builds up over a period of time," coach Sean Payton said when asked about the decision to fire the doctors. "You're not gonna bat a thousand here, but you're just hoping that more often than not, you're getting the right information."
Payton met with the Saints on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
"... I thought he did a great job of basically promising the team that they're gonna have people that are here in every area of the building -- including the medical staff -- that players feel like have their best interests at heart and are competent."Thomas Morstead, on Sean Payton's message to the team
"Coach talked to the team last night, and we were kind of asked to keep that conversation private," Saints union rep Thomas Morstead said. "But what I will say is that I thought he did a great job of basically promising the team that they're gonna have people that are here in every area of the building -- including the medical staff -- that players feel like have their best interests at heart and are competent.
"He made that promise to the team. And so I think that message was very well-received, and that's all any of us can ask for, really, as players."
Breaux will require surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks. And although it was accurately reported by the New Orleans Advocate earlier this week that the Saints were frustrated with Breaux's history of nagging injuries they felt he could have played through, they no longer appear as eager to trade or part ways with him.
So instead of this incident becoming a last straw for Breaux, it became a last straw for the team orthopedists. According to a source, there had been other incidents of frustration with the medical staff in the past, and Payton was livid over the latest issue.
Jones and Suri have been longtime doctors on the Saints' staff and have also worked for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans. Suri will continue to work with the NBA club, Ochsner Health Systems said in a statement, adding that it will remain an official sponsor of both the Saints and the Pelicans.
Payton said the team will work with the Chargers' team orthopedists for the rest of this week because they're flying to Los Angeles on Wednesday for joint practices with the team, followed by a preseason game on Sunday. After that they will do a wide search to find both short-term and long-term solutions.
Although the Saints have a marketing relationship with Ochsner Health Systems -- where the fired orthopedists worked -- Payton said they are not required to use Ochsner doctors.
Ochsner Health Systems, however, said in a statement that it "will continue to provide all other healthcare services to both the team's players, families and staff."
"While we were surprised, we will respect the decision of the Saints' leadership. We stand behind our strong Sports Medicine Program, including Dr. Jones and Dr. Suri and a team made up of nationally recognized orthopedic surgeons who are fellowship trained in sports medicine. The focus of our physicians, trainers, therapists and staff remain on caring for thousands of athletes each year across the region," the company said.
Breaux emerged as the Saints' No. 1 cornerback during a breakout 2015 campaign after migrating from the Canadian Football League. But his season was derailed by a broken fibula in Week 1 last season, and he wound up playing just six games because of the leg injury and a shoulder injury later in the year.
Breaux's current injury is believed to be in the same leg, though it is not believed to be a recurrence of the same issue, as it's unclear whether the two fractures are related.
One thing that has not changed with the updated diagnosis is that the Saints won't be counting on Breaux to start this season. So they will have to rely on a young group of cornerbacks who have impressed them so far this summer -- including first-round draft pick Marshon Lattimore, second-year pros Ken Crawley and De'Vante Harris, third-year pro P.J. Williams and veteran Sterling Moore.
Lattimore has also missed the past two weeks with a minor knee injury, but he is expected to be healthy in time to play in either the second or third preseason game. His development will be key to the success for a Saints defense that ranked last in the NFL against the pass last season.
It's too early to gauge whether Lattimore will earn a starting job by Week 1 because he has not practiced much in training camp and has showed the expected highs and lows of a rookie cornerback who turned 21 this summer.