NEW ORLEANS — Saints coach Sean Payton is trying not to let New Orleans’ latest bout with key injuries undermine his club’s Super Bowl aspirations.
A pair of starting defensive linemen who are both former first-round draft choices – end Marcus Davenport and tackle Sheldon Rankins – left last week’s loss to San Francisco with what turned out to be season-ending injuries.
But as the Saints (10-3) prepare to meet Indianapolis (6-7) on Monday night, they do so having already demonstrated how resilient they can be without prominent players in the lineup.
Watch the game LIVE on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN Direct at 8:15pm ET/5:15pm PT.
The Saints went 5-0 while record-setting quarterback Drew Brees was out with a thumb injury early this season. Star running back Alvin Kamara, top receiving tight end Jared Cook, left tackle Terron Armstead, left guard Andrus Peat, top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and return specialist Deonte Harris have missed games with injuries this season as well. Rankins also sat out the season’s first three games while finishing up his recovery from an Achilles tendon tear in last season’s playoff opener.
Yet by Thanksgiving, the Saints were NFC South Division title holders for a third season running and are still in contention to capture one of the top two playoff seeds in the conference.
“It’s been a little bit more than we’re used to,” Payton said of the injuries to top contributors. “You start with Drew, but it is what it is. You learn as you get older that there are certain things you can control. Those are the things you spend more time focusing on than the things you can’t.”
The Saints are somewhat fortunate that they entered this season emphasizing depth on the defensive line. They still have experienced, productive players across their defensive front — just fewer of them. And they will be tested against Indy’s sixth-ranked running game, featuring Marlon Mack.
“One of the things this year that we felt was beneficial was our depth at the defensive line position, carrying eight each game and getting into a rotation.” Payton said. “So that when you lose two starters, the depth helps you.”
The Colts could use a break, having lost five of six. They’re now one loss from playoff elimination as they meet a Saints squad that odds makers have favored by more than a touchdown.
Indianapolis coach Frank Reich doesn’t expect New Orleans’ normally stout defensive front to crumble.
“They’re rotating guys who substitute that are good players. I’m sure they feel like us and most teams do, these backups are going to step in and do a good job,” Reich said. “We certainly know we are going up against a good front.”
Dynamic Saints running back Alvin Kamara is coming off a relatively quite game by his prolific standards, with just 25 yards rushing and 18 receiving against San Francisco. That marked his second straight game with fewer than 100 yards from scrimmage, and third in the last five.
But Brees doesn’t sound worried about Kamara, who needs just 38 yards receiving to become third player in NFL history with at least 500 yards receiving and 500 yards rushing in each of first three seasons.
“There’s just only so many balls to go around,” Brees said. “Alvin is one of our playmakers. We want to get on the ball. We want to give him opportunities.”
The Colts have blown second-half leads each of the past three weeks, putting their playoff hopes in peril.
Indy has slid from the top of the AFC South to third place, and the reason is simple. Houston, Tennessee and Tampa Bay have outscored the Colts 31-0 in the fourth quarter.
“Very frustrating,” tight end Jack Doyle said, but added that he believes the Colts “have the right group of guys” to bounce back.
Rookie Parris Campbell became the fifth Colts receiver to land on injured reserve this season when he broke his foot last week.
Indy filled his spot by bringing back a familiar name, Dontrelle Inman.
The Virginia alum was one of the Colts’ midseason acquisitions last season, finishing with 28 receptions 304 yards and three TD catches in nine games. But the Colts and Inman couldn’t agree to terms during the offseason. He wound up playing four games for the Los Angeles Chargers before returning to Indy.
He’ll try to take pressure off of four-time Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton, who has missed five of the last six games with an injured calf and was limited in practice this week.
The Saints moved quickly to add a pair of free-agent veterans — tackle T.Y. McGill and end Noah Spence — but it remains to be seen how they perform in New Orleans’ scheme.
“There’s a vision with each one relative to what they do well and how we would use them. They are in good football shape and I’m anxious to see how they do.”
McGill was a teammate of Colts QB Jacoby Brissett at North Carolina State. He wasn’t allowed to touch Brissett in practice, but now might get his first chance to sack him.
ARE YOU READY?
Indy is making its first Monday appearance since October 2016.
That might be a bigger deal for some than Colts 2018 All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, who enjoyed watching pro wrestling as a kid.
“I’m not going to lie, I watched Monday Night Raw,” the reigning defensive rookie of the year said. “But it’s really special when you know the whole world is watching.”
Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky a ‘possibility’ to return for Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca
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Canada's Summer McIntosh, 15, wins 2nd gold medal at world aquatics – CBC Sports
Summer McIntosh of Kelowna, B.C., capped a sensational week of swimming on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian with two victories and four medals at a single world championship.
The 15-year-old lowered her junior record time to four minutes 32.04 seconds in the women’s 400-metre individual medley on Saturday in Budapest, Hungary. Earlier this week, she also set world junior marks in the 200 butterfly (gold) and 400 freelstyle (silver) while earning freestyle relay bronze in the 200.
‘”This is a dream come true,” McIntosh gushed to the crowd in the post swim on-deck interview. At 15 years 311 days, she is the second-youngest winner of the women’s 400 IM behind Tracy Caulkins of the United States, who was 15 years 224 days in her 1978 win in West Berlin.
McIntosh took the lead early in Saturday’s race and waged a battle with American Katie Grimes, who touched the wall in 4:32.67 for her second silver of these worlds after placing second in the 1,500. Teammate Emma Weyant, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist, earned bronze in 4:36.00.
“It’s really cool to race someone like Katie as she is around my age and she’s a really tough competitor,” said McIntosh, who clocked 4:34.86 on April 9 at Canadian trials. “So I’m looking forward to racing her and keep pushing myself.”
WATCH | McIntosh holds off American Katie Grimes for 4th world medal:
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary had her streak of consecutive world titles in the 400 medley halted at four as she finished fourth in 4:37.89. The 33-year-old has won the race five times in her last seven appearances at worlds and still holds the world record of 4:26.36 and 4:29.33 championship mark from 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Canada’s women wrapped up the competition with bronze in the 100 medley relay, matching their result from 2019 worlds.
Kylie Masse, Rachel Nicol, Maggie Mac Neil and anchor Penny Oleksiak stopped the clock in 3:55.01, behind the Americans (3:53.78) and Australia (3:54.25). It was Nicol’s first world medal while Oleksiak broke a tie with Masse with her ninth career medal at the event, all in the relay.
“‘It’s obvious at this point I wouldn’t be here without the team, so it feels weird to claim that title on my own,” Oleksiak told Swimming Canada of her success. ”I feel really lucky to be part of Team Canada.”
WATCH | Oleksiak sets Canadian record for most medals at aquatics worlds:
Three years ago, Sydney Pickrem, Masse, Mac Neil and Oleksiak posted a time of 3:53.58 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Saturday’s relay bronze was the national record-extending 11th medal — three gold, four silver, four bronze — for Canada at these worlds after it surpassed the mark of eight at a single world championships from 2019 on Friday.
McIntosh only led Grimes by 9-100ths of a second through 50 metres but was 62-100ths ahead midway through the backstroke leg and under world-record pace through 200 metres, in front by 1.33 seconds.
WATCH | McIntosh captures gold in 400m IM:
3 top-10 finishes in Olympic debut
Hosszu gained ground in the breaststroke and moved into third spot at the 250-metre mark, with McIntosh holding a 2.15-second advantage over Grimes. But Weyant overtook Hosszu for bronze position through 300 metres and stayed there while Grimes closed to within 98-100ths of McIntosh with 50 metres remaining.
“It’s surreal” <br><br>Summer McIntosh continues the legacy of her mom, Jill, in the 200m butterfly at <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FINABudapest2022?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#FINABudapest2022</a> <a href=”https://t.co/V56I5WGqAn”>https://t.co/V56I5WGqAn</a> <a href=”https://t.co/U3meUDIMkE”>pic.twitter.com/U3meUDIMkE</a>
Last summer, a 14-year-old McIntosh was the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic team in Tokyo but certainly didn’t show her age on the world’s grandest athletic stage.
WATCH | McIntosh swims to world silver in 400m freestyle:
She placed fourth in the 400 free, at that point lowering the Canadian record twice. She was ninth in the 200 free and 11th in the 800 free, setting a national age group record. McIntosh was also part of the 200 relay squad that finished fourth in national record time, while her opening-leg swim broke the Canadian age group record.
At national trials two months ago in Victoria, McIntosh turned heads by winning four events and swimming the 400 free in the third-fastest time this year.
WATCH | McIntosh wins world 200m butterfly semifinal in junior record time:
In the women’s medley relay, the Americans were favoured for gold while the Swedish foursome of Hanna Rosvall, Sophie Hansson, Louise Hansson and Sarah Sjoestroem were the fastest in qualifying in 3:56.77.
Masse, who fell short of the 200 backstroke podium on Friday in her bid for a third medal in Hungary, got the Canadians off to a quick start with the second-fastest reaction time at 0.54 and led Regan Smith of the U.S. for top spot through 50 metres and by 1-100th at the end of the leg.
Nichol took over in backstroke and fell off the pace, trailing the Americans 1.27 seconds. Mac Neil fell behind by 1.51 halfway through the butterfly and by 1.40 when anchor Penny Oleksiak entered the pool for the free.
Trademark finishing kick
Canada’s most decorated Olympian ever was unable to close the gap in the first half of her leg but managed to draw closer near the wall and finished 1.23 seconds off the winning time.
WATCH | Canada reaches podium in women’s medley relay:
Masse, who won gold in the 50 backstroke and silver in the 100 earlier this week, is tied for second with Ryan Cochrane with eight career medals.
“It’s always special to be part of a relay team,” said Masse, based at HPC-Ontario. “It’s nice to be doing it more than just yourself and that always pushes me.”
The American quartet of Lilly King, Torri Huske, Claire Curzan and Smith proved too strong for the rest of the field.
“We take a lot of pride in that relay and really wanted to put in a good time and get that gold back from last summer [ at the Olympics]. We came out and did that, and it was a great race,” said Curzan, who anchored the U.S. home.
On Friday, the 22-year-old Oleksiak provided her trademark finishing kick in the mixed 100 relay, overtaking Curzan to push Canada to a silver medal with a national record time of 3:20.61. All eight of her medals (two silver, six bronze) have come in the relay.
WATCH | Oleksiak anchors Canada to mixed relay silver medal:
Oleksiak was fourth in the women’s 100 freestyle on Thursday, reaching the finish an agonizing 6-100ths behind bronze medallist Huske. The Toronto native won gold in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics and placed fourth last summer in Tokyo.
WATCH | Oleksiak narrowly misses bronze in 100m freestyle:
Mollie O’Callaghan won Thursday’s competition before anchoring the Australian medley relay team to silver two days later.
In the men’s 4×100 medley relay, Canada’s Javier Acevedo, James Dergousoff, Joshua Liendo and Ruslan Gaziev swam to 11th in the preliminaries in 3:35.62.
Liendo led all Canadian men this week with bronze in the 100 free and 100 fly and silver in the mixed 100 free relay.
WATCH | Liendo bursts to bronze in 100m butterfly:
American Ress awarded backstroke gold after review
Justin Ress of the United States won gold in the 50 backstroke in dramatic circumstances after officials overturned his initial disqualification following a lengthy review.
Victory was earlier awarded to compatriot Hunter Armstrong after it was ruled that no part of Ress’s body was above the water as he reached first for the wall.
Ress, who had set the pace in the heats and the semifinals, was later reinstated as the winner and the medal ceremony held again, with Armstrong taking silver and Polish teenager Ksawery Masiuk having to settle for bronze.
In other action:
- Gregorio Paltrinieri, gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, set a new championship record in the 1,500 freestyle, comfortably finishing ahead of Robert Finke and Florian Wellbrock in a time of 14:32.80. The Italian looked on course to break Sun Yang’s world record of 14:31.02 but faded in the last 100 metres.
- Earlier, former Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania clinched gold in the women’s 50 breaststroke, beating Italian Benedetta Pilato by 0.10 seconds, with Lara van Niekerk of South Africa coming home in third.
Meilutyte was handed a 24-month suspension in 2019 for anti-doping violations and returned to competitive action only in December last year.
Action in Budapest continues Sunday for live action beginning at 7 a.m. ET with the open water swimming team relay, followed by Canada vs. Netherlands in the women’s water polo crossover game at 8 ET.
The first diving final, men’s 3-metre springboard synchro, is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Coverage continues every day through July 3. Click on the link below for a full schedule of events.
Dufour nets four as Sea Dogs rally past Cataractes, advance to Memorial Cup final – TSN
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The Shawinigan Cataractes scored 49 seconds into Saturday’s final round robin game at the Memorial Cup and enjoyed a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Then William Dufour of the Saint John Sea Dogs said “hold my (root) beer.”
Dufour, the 2020 fifth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders, rattled off three consecutive goals in the second period and added a fourth in the third as the tournament hosts scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Cataractes 5-3 to earn a berth in Wednesday’s Cup final.
The trip to the final erases a bit of the disappointment of the Sea Dogs’ first-round loss in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Cataractes, with two wins and a loss in the round robin, will have to beat the Hamilton Bulldogs in Monday’s semifinal game to get another shot at their QMJHL rival.
Jeremie Poirier scored Saint John’s other goal, while teammate Josh Lawrence added two assists. The Sea Dogs finished the round robin with two wins and an overtime loss.
Loris Rafanomezantsoa, Olivier Nadeau and William Veillette scored for Shawinigan, who outshot the Sea Dogs 15-10 in the first period but were outshot 21-5 in the second.
The six-foot-three Dufour, named MVP of the QMJHL this season, had 56 goals and 116 points during the QMJHL regular season.
“To finish my (junior) career like this is so great,” said the 20-year-old Dufour, calling the win one of his greatest moments in hockey. “We have one more game to win. We’re just going to go for it.”
POKE CHECKS: The Hamilton Bulldogs, who finished the round robin portion of the 102nd Memorial Cup championship with one regulation win for three points, lost to the Sea Dogs 5-4 on June 20, then dropped a 3-2 decision to the Cataractes on June 23, before beating the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-2 on Friday. The Oil Kings finished the tournament with one overtime win and two losses for two points and failed to make the playoffs. … Next year’s Memorial Cup will be held in Kamloops, B.C., home of the Western Hockey League Blazers who won the national tournament in 1992, 1994 and 1995.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022
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