As the Saints cope with Sean Payton’s injury, the coach’s recovery could be the hardest part.
While team doctors were pleased by the results of surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus and broken tibia in Payton’s left leg, there remained a number of questions pertaining to how the Saints will adapt to their head coach’s inability to walk normally for weeks.
“It’ll be interesting how that all plays out,” quarterback Drew Brees said, adding that he was confident Payton would find a way to turn the situation to the Saints’ advantage. “It’s uncharted territory for all of us.”
Payton is not expected to be able to put weight on his injured leg for about eight weeks, said Dr. Deryk Jones, the team’s orthopedic surgeon who operated on the coach. Jones added that a full recovery could take three to six months.
So it will be a while before Payton again paces the sideline, where he usually juggles the responsibilities of calling offensive plays, coaching up players on certain assignments and sometimes not so cordially seeking clarification from referees about officiating decisions.
“He’s just got a kind of presence and moxie that when you’re on the sideline you look for,” Saints offensive guard Carl Nicks said. “He’s yelling and he’s calling the plays. He’s getting everybody situated. You can take it for granted. He’s our leader, you know? So it’s kind of weird” not having Payton roaming in front of the bench.
Payton was hurt during New Orleans’ 26-20 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday when Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was tackled into his coach along the sideline. Payton remained in the hospital on Monday for observation and was expected to be discharged Tuesday and back at work by Wednesday. Brees said he’d been told that Payton had equipment set up in his hospital room so he could go over video as the Saints look to correct mistakes from the loss to the Buccaneers and prepare to host Indianapolis on Sunday night.