Saints coach Sean Payton on NFL's Thursday scheduling: 'It's foolish'
New Orleans played at division rival Carolina Panthers on Thursday night and won 28-10. The Saints had just one practice between Sunday night and Thursday and had to travel Wednesday after not leaving the Superdome on Sunday night until close to midnight.
Three Saints players were injured during Thursday's game -- receiver Kenny Stills hurt his groin, running back Mark Ingram hurt his shoulder and offensive tackle Zach Strief injured his back -- and Saints coach Sean Payton blamed the schedule for their ailments, calling the scheduling decision "foolish."
"I think the challenges were obvious with regards to logistics," Payton said to NOLA.com. "Thursday night games are one thing, but to come out and play on a Sunday night and come back and play on a Thursday. It's not an excuse for your players, you don't want it to be, but I would say it's crazy. It's silly. It shouldn't happen.
"When you actually go through the logistics and see what your players go through, they get out of the stadium Sunday night at midnight. And look, it's an easy thing to fix."
With the NFL facing increasing scrutiny over player safety issues in recent years, Thursday night games have become a target of criticism due to players' limited time to recover after playing the previous Sunday. The NFL has defended Thursday night games, saying they don't pose an increased safety risk.
Strief adamantly disagreed with that stance on Thursday night.
"At the end of the day, it's baloney," he said after the game to NOLA.com, nursing a bruised back that served as a throbbing reminder of his point.
"Do you think it's fair to play a night game and then turn around and travel and play on a Thursday?" he asked rhetorically. "Being conscious of player safety, why would you do that?"
New Orleans' win on Thursday put the team on top of the NFC South at 4-4.
The Saints have now won two games in a row for the first time this season.
- Ben Estes