Saints enter Carolina game without 8 assistant coaches

Sports
Sean Payton

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, file photo, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, second from left, watches players warm up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville, Fla. Six unidentified members of the Saints coaching staff, a player and a nutritionist have tested positive for COVID-19, two people familiar with the situation said, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The people spoke with The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team and NFL had not made a public statement about the matter. The names of those who tested positive were not expected to be released in the short term because of federal medical privacy laws. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The New Orleans Saints will have a total of eight coaches unable to attend Sunday’s road game against the Panthers because of positive COVID-19 tests.

While offensive line coach Brendan Nugent has cleared COVID-19 protocols and is now set to coach, assistant head coach and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen, and defensive assistant Brian Young ,will not be able to attend the game, the club announced on Saturday.

The club said Nielsen’s and Young’s game day roles will be divided among the rest of the defensive staff.

Six other assistant coaches already had been ruled out: receivers coach Curtis Johnson, tight ends coach Dan Roushar, running backs coach Joel Thomas, offensive analyst Jim Chaney, offensive assistant Declan Doyle and special teams assistant Phil Galiano.

The initial outbreak affecting primarily the coaching staff became evident from test results on Tuesday, two days after New Orleans’ 38-3 victory over Green Bay a Saints “home game” that was moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The NFL relocated the game because officials were concerned that it was too soon after the Aug. 29 landfall of Hurricane Ida, which caused widespread damage and power outages in southeast Louisiana, for the New Orleans area to accommodate an event at the 73,000-seat Superdome.

The club, which has been practicing in the Dallas area since evacuating for Ida on Aug. 28, began operating under the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols after the outbreak this week, requiring masking inside facilities and daily testing, among other social distancing measures.

The outbreak did not affect the active roster. The only player placed on the Saints’ COVID-19 list this week was receiver Michael Thomas, who already was unavailable until Week 7 because he began the regular season on the club’s physically unable to perform list.

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