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Saints see 2 more coaches test positive for COVID-19, total reaches 8 ahead of Panthers game

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The New Orleans Saints coaching staff has been hit hard by an outbreak of COVID-19 as the team will face off against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday without eight assistant coaches. 

Defensive coaching responsibilities will be split among the remaining coaches after assistant head coach and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen and defensive assistant Brian Young were the latest to test positive, the club announced Saturday. 

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Six coaches tested positive on Tuesday after the Saints’ Week 1 “home” game against the Green Bay Packers. 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 will all be absent on Sunday.

Wideout Michael Thomas, who was already on the PUP list, had also been placed on the COVID-19 list. 

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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.

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.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Head coach Sean Payton said all the coaches who tested positive were vaccinated. In the meantime, he’s taken a more hands-on approach with the team and the players are embracing it. 

“We got to experience one of the best offensive mind head coaches ever in the game one-on-one like a staff meeting running the team,” quarterback Jameis Winston told reporters on Wednesday. “I’ve never been in that room of watching tape with Sean, of going through situations with Sean and voicing how he would like something done.”

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“He’s running around. He’s coaching every position,” left tackle Terron Armstead said, via ESPN. “He’s never one to use any situation as an excuse, and that type of approach rubs off on a team.”

The Saints have also been training in Texas after being displaced by Hurricane Ida. They will return to New Orleans for their second home game on Oct. 3. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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