The New Orleans Saints officially turned the page from their nice win against the Philadelphia Eagles Wednesday afternoon as they enjoyed a nice fall day in the city by practicing outdoors.
While the weather may have seemed like one you’d go out and enjoy a picnic, Sunday’s opponent is anything but a relaxing opponent. The Atlanta Falcons are up next with an 8-0 record.
Inside the locker room players are aware it’s “Falcons week,” as one player shouted out to running back Mark Ingram, “you getting your sleep? You better get your sleep. It’s Falcons week baby.”
Walking around the locker room there is no question the Saints are gearing up for the dirty birds.
“Rivalry game, it’s full of emotion,” says Saints safety Roman Harper. “Everybody knows our fans don’t like their fans and it’s vice versa. The players we all know each other very well. We’ve been in this division and play twice a year and its definitely a big game. It always seems to have a little bit of extra juice to it.”
“Divisional opponent, undefeated team and we got a chance to do something nobody has been able to do this year,” was Jahri Evans take.
“It’s going to be a close game. It usually is every time we play them and a physical game,” receiver Devery Henderson says. “It’s just one of those games you’re going to have to get up for and get after it.”
“We don’t want to put too much on it. This is a divisional game versus an undefeated opponent,” says former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton. “Some people are saying they’re the best team in the NFL right now so you know it’s good to see where we’re at. Go up there and play against the best and let the cards fall where they fall on Sunday.”
Atlanta has never been undefeated this long in its franchise history. The top of offense and winning streak is bringing up similarity talk to the 2009 Saints team as well.
“They’re undefeated. We both started out reeling off a bunch of games early and they’re hot,” says wide receiver Lance Moore. “Good thing for us is that they’re coming in here into the dome and hopefully it’ll be one of those things where we’re a little better prepared and make a little more plays then them.”
Running back Darren Sproles (hand), wide receiver Courtney Roby (shoulder), defensive end Junior Galette (ankle) and right tackle Zach Strief all did not practice on Wednesday. Linebacker David Hawthorne who is still working his way back from a hamstring injury fully practiced.
LOFTON TO FACE OLD MATES
Sunday will add a new little wrinkle to the rivalry as it will be the first time linebacker Curtis Lofton will face his former team. This past off-season the Saints signed Lofton away from Atlanta thanks to a better offer. Will this be a special game for former Falcon?
“Special? It’s just any other game to me,” said Lofton who eventually broke into a chuckle. “Just any other game you know it’s the next game on the schedule. That’s all I’m worried about and I don’t put too much on it. Yea I’m excited to play these guys. After playing against them, all these ifs, ands, would’ve, could’ve, now we’ll see what happens.”
It’s only natural that Lofton would join the team that is a part of a rivalry where there is no love lost. This past off-season’s contract talks between the Falcons and the linebacker didn’t go so well with the folks up north saying it was more like the team let him go.
“I look at it as I left. I mean they offered me (a contract) and they wanted me to stay but I just felt better you know I wanted to go to a team that celebrated me not tolerated me and that’s the way I felt. I’m happy that I’m here and I’m excited for this game.”
So could Sunday be a game to show the Falcons what they lost?
“I don’t think I have anything to prove to them. I mean I’m not there anymore,” says Lofton. “I’m just worried about putting my teammates in the best situation to win and going about business that way.”
As for where his loyalties lie come kick off, the linebacker made it clear that he understands the rivalry between the two teams and made it clear he bleeds Black and Gold now.
“When I was with the Falcons I hated the Saints and so now I’m with the Saints and now I hate the Falcons,” Lofton stated simply. “Both of these cities hate each other and there’s no love loss and so it’s a divisional game and we’ll get it on.”