Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – Orthopedic surgeons spent three hours repairing the meniscus and a left tibial plateau of Saints coach Sean Payton on Monday morning, a procedure the operating physician said went well.
“I anticipate coach Payton returning to the office sometime Wednesday or Thursday,” said Dr. Deryk Jones, one of the team’s orthopedic doctors, in a statement provided by the team. “The recovery period for this type of surgery is three to six months. I would anticipate him being able to put partial weight on it in about eight weeks.”
Jones said Payton will remain at Ochsner Hospital overnight and is expected to be released Tuesday morning.
Payton injured his knee with 10:17 to play in the first quarter of Sunday’s 26-20 loss to Tampa Bay. Tight end Jimmy Graham was thrust out of bounds while getting tackled, rolling up under Payton’s leg.
The Saints coach stayed on the sideline for most of the first half before going into the locker room for X-rays at halftime.
Meanwhile, assistant head coach Joe Vitt said everything will run as normal as Saints camp despite the absence of Payton.
“It’s the same thing – you’re working the plan,” Vitt said. “Every week in the National Football League, I don’t care if you’re coming off a win or a loss, it takes on a life of itself. It’s a whole new set of circumstances, dynamics, matchups and that’s what we’re going to start on at about 3 (o’clock) this afternoon getting ready for this matchup.”
Still, Monday’s day-after focus remained largely on Payton and how his surgery and recovery will affect the team, not on the Saints’ game against Tampa Bay.
At least on Sunday, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and quarterback Drew Brees took over the play-calling, something Vitt said was a smooth transition.
“That history goes back to San Diego, so I think Drew knows Pete better than he knows himself and Pete knows Drew better than he knows himself,” Vitt said. “The play selection and what Drew likes and what Drew wants, those guys are on the same page. Pete Carmichael did a superb job yesterday of personnel groupings, getting the call out, making sure the call was right. Those two guys are tied at the hip. They were phenomenal.”
Despite missing Payton after the third offensive play, the Saints put up 440 yards of total offense and converted 5 of 12 third downs.
Payton is expected to participate in games from the coaching booth for at least the next few weeks.
Vitt doesn’t think that will be a problem, though there will be some things to get used to.
“One of the things around here we take great pride in is our preparation,” Vitt said. “We’ll see what works for us. We have to see how Sean feels after the surgery. We need to see where he is in the next day or two. It’s going to be his call. This coaching staff has been together a long time.
“We need to work through these challenges for our football team to win a football game”The only concern right now, Vitt said, was for Payton.
“We are hopeful that he’s getting better,” Vitt said. “That’s the number one thing right now, that he gets better, that he gets the proper medical treatment as he’s getting, and to make sure that he goes through the process of getting this thing healed.”