Saints cautious with Winston returning to action from injury

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By John DeShazier

New Orleans Saints

GREEN BAY — He did more watching than practicing, but New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston was dressed and on the field for a limited portion of Tuesday’s joint practice with Green Bay.

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The teams will have another joint practice Wednesday, and will play their second preseason games Friday night at Lambeau Field.

Winston (sprained foot) was injured a couple of day before last Saturday’s preseason opener against Houston. He left practice early Aug. 8 and had been out since.

“It’s another positive step in the right direction,” Coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s still really kind of day to day, and we’re going to be smart with that. We’re going to be cautious with that, we’re going to make sure that we give him every opportunity to get right. I don’t think that’s going to be a long period of time, but we’re not going to put him back out there until we feel certain that he’s 100 percent ready.

“We’ll evaluate him this afternoon, and even in the morning to see where he is and how he’s feeling, and then we’ll make a decision probably (Wednesday) morning.”

RAM WORK: All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who also has been limited in his work through training camp as he returns from knee surgery, was an active participant against the Packers. For Ramczyk, who has played through several injuries, the watching has been odd.

“I think they’re trying to be smart, I’m trying to be smart, going into the season feeling as good as I can possibly feel,” he said. “So far, I’ve done a good job of maintaining it and managing it. Up to this point my knee has been feeling really good.

“It’s kind of a tough game because as a professional athlete, you want to get these reps, you want to get better, you’re always trying to work on something. When you’re not getting them, you have to get them mentally. It’s a tough balance not being able to take all the reps, and then being smart on the other end and taking care of your body and making sure you’re learning from the stuff you are watching.

“I definitely feel good. I’ve never really been through this process before. It was always just like, ‘I’m going.’ So it’s a little bit different for me, but so far I think it’s been good.”

SECOND THAT EMOTION: Not that much confirmation was needed, but it’s still one thing to operate under the belief that what is seen is what is correct – and that running back Alvin Kamara has had an outstanding training camp and preseason – and another to hear it from the people who watch him every day.

It sounds and looks like A.K. is ready.

“I think he’s had a good a camp as I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Allen, who returned to the Saints in 2015 and has been with the organization for every season of Kamara, who was drafted in ’17. “I think he’s in a good place mentally, he looks exceptionally explosive. He’s in great shape, great condition. I like where he’s at.”

THE HEAT IS OFF: The Saints escaped New Orleans’ sweltering weather conditions – a forecast high of around 94, with heat indexes topping 100 degrees and a heat advisory in effect Tuesday, with more of the same expected Wednesday – for a chamber-of-commerce day in Green Bay (79 degrees forecast high, sunshine, likely heat index of 79.02).

But Allen said there are benefits to working in the heat.

“It’s all part of training,” he said. “I think there’s a toughness that comes along with having to battle through the heat. Like, it ain’t easy. It’s not easy. And having to fight through that mentally, I think, is good for your football team.

“I think you can draw on that at points in the season when you face adversity. But yet, I also think there’s a balance where you’ve got to get them back a little bit and I think that’s a little bit of what this week’s about.”

GIVING ‘EM THEIR FLOWERS: Safety Tyrann Mathieu, a four-time All-Pro, said the Saints are in great hands in the leadership department even if he hasn’t yet ascended to a prominent position in that role.

“I think we’ve got the right leader, (three-time All-Pro linebacker) Demario Davis,” Mathieu said. “He’s constantly pushing us each and every day. I think we’ve got great coaches, too – between (co-defensive coordinators) Ryan (Nielsen) and Kris (Richard), really two of the best minds I’ve been around on the defensive side, really outside of Todd Bowles.”

Bowles, currently Tampa Bay’s coach, was defensive coordinator for Arizona in 2013-14; Mathieu was a Cardinal from 2013-17.

“Really, (we’re) just trying to gel together,” Mathieu said. “Most of this is just committing to each other. I think all of us are really good athletes and we all are pretty smart for the most part. It’s just taking that next step and committing to your teammates. That’s what usually brings out the best in a group.”

Cornerback Marshon Lattimore also has high expectations for the defense.

“I think the sky’s the limit, (with) everybody we’ve got,” Lattimore said. “On the back end, we’ve got linebackers, the front end – we’ve got everything we need to be a dominant defense. We’ve just got to go in every week and do what we’ve got to do.”