The New Orleans Saints may play in the sheltered Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but they’re no strangers to coping for the elements outside. They’re actively taking precautions ahead of this week’s road trip to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where a 100 percent chance of rain is expected for Sunday. Saints head coach Sean Payton acknowledged that in his Thursday conference call before practice, saying certainly, “It doesn’t look like it’s going to rain. It’s going to rain.”
Payton has prepared his team for road games in rough weather before, but they’ve been fortunate to host more games in the Superdome than they’ve had to travel for. This week, they’ll be practicing outdoors more often and going through wet ball drills, as well as testing different types of cleats. Keeping players upright and protecting against turnovers are the top priorities on their list. Payton explained some of the weather conditions the Saints are expecting:
“There’ll be some wind, 10-12 miles an hour, we know the direction it’ll head from — their locker room toward the pirate ship. I think the footing is going to be important relative to the shoes we’re going to be wearing.
“We’ve been there before when we were sent in at halftime to go eat oranges for a half an hour, stretch, and come back and play. It’s South Florida.”
The Saints went through similar preparations last year when visiting the Green Bay Packers, but were lucky to avoid expected thunderstorms. Still, with a wet field waiting for them, Payton offered free pedicures to every player who wore longer cleats to compensate with the wet turf. Saints running back Mark Ingram noted the gesture in his postgame interview.
“We will be taking him up on that offer Monday,” he said. “I don’t know about everybody else. But I’m gonna holler at him tomorrow morning for my pedicure.”