Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – On Monday morning, Sean Payton was having surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus and fractured tibia.
Tuesday night, from his hospital room, he was watching video of the Indianapolis Colts via a personal computer.
Welcome to coaching with a major injury, circa 2011.
“He texted and he gave Pete Carmichael some thoughts yesterday for first and second down,” assistant head coach Joe Vitt said Wednesday. “It was integrated into the game plan. He had a computer up there where he was able to view some film so his thoughts are into the first- and second-down game plan.”
Indeed, Payton’s fingerprints will still be all over New Orleans’ game plan heading into Sunday night’s return home after three weeks on the road. The Saints (4-2) host Indianapolis (0-6) in their second nationally-televised game of the season.
Vitt said it’s not safe to assume anything, but the thought process heading into Sunday’s game is to have Payton in the coaching box above the field.
Quarterback Drew Brees, meanwhile, already feels his coach and play-caller have figured out one way or another to stay on the field.
“There’s no question,” Brees said. “I’m envisioning some kind of hovercraft on the sideline, some kind of Back to the Future hovercraft that he figures out a way to be back on the sideline.”
Payton missed practice Wednesday after being discharged from Ochsner Hospital sometime near noon. He was expected in the office in the afternoon or early evening to begin helping put the game plan together in person.
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and offensive assistant Joe Lombardi helped run the offensive side of practice, something Brees said happens regularly.
Still, Payton’s absence was noticed.
“It was different,” fullback Jed Collins said. “He goes through and … he shows us each play offensively what he’s thinking, his progression through things, why this is in the game plan. Things like that.’
Collins added, “It was a little different, but practice ran smooth. We got the game plan in. We got everything we wanted to in.”
That’s not what 31 other teams want to hear, Vitt said.
“Hey, this is very, very unfortunate what’s happened to Sean,” Vitt said. “And I know there’s a lot of people in the league saying, ‘boy, the poor Saints and yeah, yeah, yeah,’ no. There are 31 other teams out there that are glad that he got hurt and he was in the hospital, missing practice, because they don’t want us to be successful. That’s just the truth.
“So, we need to move on and keep our eye on the target and keep our preparation meticulous and win a football game.”