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Saints’ Sean Payton says he’s ‘doing well’ after testing positive for coronavirus



METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he was “cleared” Tuesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

Payton told WWL radio on Wednesday evening that he has not had a fever for eight or nine days after he first began feeling symptoms March 15 and took his test the next day.

“I’m doing well. I was cleared yesterday,” Payton said. “It’s been quite a process. You spend a lot of time trying to learn as much as you can about it. We’re certainly seeing it on the news 24/7.

“So I’ve been fortunate. You stay inside like everyone’s doing and you find ways to pass the time. We had a competition committee meeting the other day on teleconference. But I’m feeling a lot better. And unfortunately my appetite didn’t dissipate at all during that time. You know, you watch a lot of Netflix, then you go on to Twitter and you see everyone else is watching the same shows.”

Payton, 56, also continued to campaign passionately for other people to learn from his example and heed the advice of health and government officials to practice social and physical distancing so there isn’t a spike in cases that overwhelms the medical field.

“We try asking nicely and we trying saying, ‘Hey, look, this is the deal.’ And then you still see behavior that makes you upset,” Payton said. “Just picture everyone’s got a hand grenade on ’em — how about that? So stay away from everybody.

“We’re not invincible and every one of us certainly can catch this thing. Shoot, we’ve got politicians, athletes, you name it, they’ve caught it. Prince Charles caught it [Wednesday], right? So it doesn’t matter if you live in a castle or you live in an apartment.”

Payton acknowledged that he took some flak from people on social media for appearing in public at the Oaklawn race track in Hot Springs, Arkansas, on March 14, the day before he began feeling symptoms.

“My Twitter blows up. ‘Hey, what is he doing at the races?’ Hey, if I knew I had this, I wouldn’t have been at the racetrack two weeks ago. And the racetrack was closed; I was there in a small ownership group,” Payton said. “And then [people complained], ‘He got a test on Monday without symptoms.’ I had symptoms. I wasn’t gonna use a test if I didn’t have symptoms.”

Payton also spoke about the resilience of Southern Louisiana through some of the country’s most well-known crises over the past two decades, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Katrina.

“We’ve been through so much,” Payton said. “But we don’t just have to be tough, we’ve got to be smart now, too.”

Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson also offered an update on Payton’s condition earlier Wednesday in an interview with the Pelicans’ podcast.

“He’s talking about going to play golf, so he is getting better,” Benson said. “But he’s still quarantined, so he still has to kind of cool it. But he is getting better. I’m glad that he was able to stay home and take care of himself during this time.”

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CB P.J. Williams, Saints reach 1-year deal



The New Orleans Saints are bringing back versatile cornerback P.J. Williams on a one-year deal, the team announced Thursday.

Williams battled injuries and inconsistency early in his career, but he found a niche over the past two seasons as a nickelback with the Saints, playing about 80% of their defensive snaps inside the slot when active. He also filled in at safety when needed because of injuries late last season.

The Saints let cornerback Eli Apple go in free agency, and they switched from Vonn Bell to Malcolm Jenkins at free safety. But they still have a deep, experienced secondary with cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, Williams, Patrick Robinson and Justin Hardee and safeties Jenkins, Marcus Williams and C.J. Gardner-Johnson, among others.

The 6-foot, 196-pounder, who signed a one-year deal with the Saints last offseason for $2.25 million, was suspended for two games in 2019 because of a January arrest for driving while intoxicated. He later pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Williams started 23 games, including the playoffs, over the past three seasons and had four interceptions and 27 passes defensed. He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a 2018 win at Minnesota, during which he helped to force a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Williams, a 2015 third-round pick who turns 27 on June 1, played in only two games in his first two seasons because of a hamstring injury and a concussion that landed him on injured reserve in back-to-back seasons.

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Andy Reid prepping Chiefs’ Super Bowl defense from basement



KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The coach of the defending Super Bowl champions is readying for the draft, preparing for an offseason practice that may never happen and otherwise doing what he would always do this time of year.

Andy Reid is just working from a location other than his office at the Kansas City Chiefs‘ practice facility.

“I wish I could take you on a virtual tour of this thing,” Reid said. “It’s kind of classic. I’m sitting in my basement, literally. I’ve got an arc trainer sitting here in case I want to jump on that to get a little exercise. I’ve got my monitor set up, along with my computer, my iPad right next to that. And I’ve got one of my wife’s antique tables here, a little coffee table that I’m using to throw everything on. But I’m in the basement, yeah.

“You know what? It’s not bad.”

Working from an alternate location makes Reid like many people in other fields as the country deals with the effects of the coronavirus. It’s part of life as a football coach, with NFL facilities shut down for the time being.

Reid, 62, said he’s drawing on experiences from early in his coaching career to help him handle the uncertainty.

“I’m glad I coached at San Francisco State because we had to work through a lot of things there,” Reid said of the college where he was an assistant coach from 1983 through 1985. “It was Division II, non-scholarship, and everything wasn’t easy there. We had to have a guy climb up on a ladder to film practice. And the field, we had to have the players pick up rocks on the dirt field so we could actually practice. So those experiences help you in times like this, I think, when everything’s not quite perfect, to make it work.

“We stay as current as we can through information from the league. We’re approaching it like we’re having a season. I think it’s two-fold, because it can be a real positive energy-giver back to the country at a time of maybe need for that. At the same time, we’re very sensitive to everything going on. But as far as the offseason goes – again, we’re out of the office until they let us know that we can get ourselves back in and so I’ve got different plans that I’ve kind of set up for different stages of [the offseason], whether it’s virtual work or whether they let us back in the building for field work. Whatever it is, I’ve put together plans for that. And then we’ll just take it day-by-day and see what presents itself.”

The Chiefs were supposed to start their offseason conditioning program on April 20, with practice to begin in May.

“We’ve got a little time before that,” Reid said. “We’ll just see what direction it goes. That’s normally a time we use for conditioning workouts. If we’re allowed to do that virtually, we can go ahead and do that at that time. We’ll try to stay in touch. If we’re allowed to visit with the players with our WebEx units or whatever, we can do that. We’re prepared to do all of that. And then if they’re allowed back in the building we’re good with that. We’ve got that all planned out, too.”

The next big event is the draft, which begins April 23. Teams haven’t been allowed to conduct medical exams or meet in person with draft prospects. Many Pro Days were cancelled. Team officials won’t be allowed during the draft to assemble as a group at the team’s headquarters.

“[Brett Veach] is working like crazy, using all the virtual equipment that he can, and watching tape,” Reid said of the Chiefs’ general manager, who is also working remotely. “Obviously the tape’s not near as clear as it is in the office, but you power through it and you do what you have to do to make sure that you get the evaluations done. And wherever we do the draft from, whether we’re at home or whether we’re in a hotel, wherever it is, you hope that everybody can stay safe and at the same time get this thing done.

“We were able to talk to players, the guys that are in the draft, we were able to go through and interview them on WebEx, so that’s been beneficial.”

Reid said he wasn’t certain where he, Veach or the team’s coaches and scouts would be during the draft. Normally they gather at the team’s practice facility.

“Right now, we’re kind working through all of that,” he said. “We’ve looked at hotels as a possible option, putting people in different rooms. There are a variety of things you can go through to look at. We haven’t put our finger down on one thing as of yet.”

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Aaron Rodgers applauds Packers’ hiring of sports psychologist – Green Bay Packers Blog



GREEN BAY, Wis. — Count quarterback Aaron Rodgers among those who like the Green Bay Packers’ decision to hire Dr. Chris Carr as Director of Performance Psychology and Team Behavioral Health Clinician.

Shortly after the announcement was made on Thursday, Rodgers applauded the move on Twitter with hand-clapping emojis.

It’s not the first time Rodgers has commented on Carr, who has served as a consultant to the Packers since 2018.

In December, Rodgers brought up Carr’s name unprompted, saying: “We also have a sports psychologist on staff now who’s a great resource. That is finally across all sports becoming a more ‘accepted’ position, maybe? I don’t know if that’s the right word. But there’s less of a stigma, I think, really countrywide about how getting help is not a weakness; it’s actually a sign of strength that you’re able to get help and ask for help and set your pride and ego aside. But I’ve done a lot of research on that stuff.”

In January, during the Packers’ run to the NFC Championship Game, another player brought up Carr’s name on his own. Cornerback Kevin King mentioned Carr when talking about the mental side of the game.

“Just trying to be consistent with it, just trying to maintain and find that sweet spot to where I like,” King said. “Try to bottle up that feeling of how I felt when I was at that sweet spot. Talking to Dr. Carr, our psychologist, and figure out how to get back to that.”

Carr joins the Packers full time now after working as a sports and performance psychologist at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis since 2006. He also served as a consultant to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

Among other teams, the Carolina Panthers also have a full-time, in-house psychologist on staff. A 2018 story on said the Panthers at the time were believed to be the only NFL team that had a full-time staffer in that position.

Carr told ESPN for that story that he was one of five full-time members of a Division I college athletics department in his role when he finished his Ph.D. at Washington State University in the early 1990s.

“Now over 50 to 60 schools have sports psychology and mental health provided in-house for athletes, but it’s really been the last five years where the NCAA has made it a priority,” Carr told ESPN in 2018. “In some ways this is a transitional shift in the culture of sports where we realize these are real issues and you need to have really good, competent providers to take care of those athletes.”

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