By Danny Cox
As the New Orleans Saints flew back home after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles for their first ever road playoff victory, they knew they'd be back on the road again soon. Only this time, it would be a return trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks, and they'd need every available player and every bit of motivation possible.
Saints head coach Sean Payton decided to do whatever he could to motivate his players at practice and prepare them for the Seattle atmosphere and the 12th man.
The coach started things out by painting a giant Seahawks logo in the middle of the practice field. After that, he piped in as much extra noise as possible so the atmosphere could be imitated. He seemed to do a pretty good job at doing it because he blew two huge speakers at Thursday's afternoon practice.
It was a practice that saw the return of running back Pierre Thomas, who missed last week's game with a chest issue. Thomas was also held out of Wednesday's practice, but finally got back on the field in a limited capacity on Thursday.
While Thomas never really was a full go, he will likely play against the Seahawks on Saturday. The only way he will be held out is if team doctors officially rule him out.
Against the Eagles, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson racked up the ground yardage so they can do fine, but Thomas' presence in the passing game was missing big-time while in Philly.
The other big injury that concerned the Saints the most was that of cornerback Keenan Lewis, but it appears he has passed all concussion tests and is probable for Saturday.
As soon as Lewis got injured against the Eagles, Nick Foles was able to start picking apart the Saints secondary. His presence at practice this week was a truly promising sign for the Saints.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks suffered an ankle injury against the Eagles, and he was limited throughout the week for the Saints, but he'll be ready for this weekend.
Offensive guard Jahri Evans and offensive tackle Terron Armstead are also both listed as probable with ankle and knee injuries respectively. They were watched by trainers and the Saints staff through the week, but there should be no issues.
All starters will be ready on Saturday and the back-ups for the Saints are prepared as well. Combine that with Payton's homemade Seattle atmosphere and the Saints are truly motivated and anxious to get at the Seahawks.
Now, all of that needs to be used at game time.
- RB Pierre Thomas - Chest
- DE Akiem Hicks - Ankle
- OT Terrance Armstead - Knee
- OG Jahri Evans - Ankle
- CB Keenan Lewis - Concussion/Neck
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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