NEW ORLEANS — Before New Orleans residents had settled into their seats in church Sunday morning, Jimmy Graham was at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with coach Sean Payton, running routes on the field.
The idea at 9:30 a.m. was for Graham to convince Payton his injured foot wasn’t going to hold him back in spite of practicing only once this week.
“Two hours before the game, to hear Sean tell me, ‘Hey, you’re playing,’ obviously put a pretty big smile on my face,” Graham said.
The tight end gave Payton reason to smile, too, catching three passes for 37 yards. And on two of them, he powered through for touchdowns.
“I thought he did a good job and handled our plan pretty well,” Payton said after the game. “He did a job during the week with rehab and Friday he was able to practice on a limited basis.”
The key for Graham, who has an injury to the plantar fascia in his left foot, is that it’s more about pain management because, according to Payton, it’s not an issue that can get worse.
“There really is no big risk of, ‘Hey, this could happen and you’re out for the rest of the season,’ ” Graham said. “So, that’s not there. It’s just, ‘How much pain can you endure?’ And, you know, I’m pretty good at that.”
Graham played about two handfuls of snaps, about a third of New Orleans’ 64 snaps.
The plan all along, Payton said, was to keep him below his normal amount of plays and to involve him in certain offensive packages.
“Obviously if I’m healthy enough to be out there, then I’m gonna play full speed and I’m not gonna touch the brakes at all,” Graham said.