The Saints' banged-up offense was missing a few prominent faces on Wednesday.
Quarterback Jameis Winston (back/ankle) and receivers Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) did not participate in the team's session in London. Fortunately for the Saints, the absences weren't too concerning.
"Really it's just more trying to rest and trying to make sure he's healthy," head coach Dennis Allen told reporters in regards to Winston's absence. "I anticipate that he'll be back out there tomorrow."
The Saints play the Vikings on Sunday (9:30 a.m. ET on NFL Network) in London.
Winston is coming off an ACL tear and has been playing through a back injury in the last two weeks, and the offense is hurting just about as much. New Orleans didn't put up much of a fight when possessing the ball in its 22-14 loss to Carolina, failing to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Winston didn't appear settled for most of the afternoon, and the Saints suffered as a unit.
Still, Allen has maintained he's not considering a change under center. Winston, meanwhile, admitted he didn't request a day off for Wednesday.
"It was the plan," Winston said. "It wasn't my choice."
With Winston sidelined out of luxury or necessity, the first-team practice duties shifted to veteran backup Andy Dalton. Another beloved character, Taysom Hill, stepped in to take second-string signal-caller snaps, seemingly the first notable such reps for Hill since Allen took over for Sean Payton as head coach.
"Well, I think that was a little bit of the plan all along as we kind of started this whole process is that eventually he'd begin to get some more reps in the QB room. So yeah, that's kind of part of the plan," Allen said. … "Again, that was part of the plan from the very beginning, and certainly he had some injuries during training camp, and it kind of limited the amount that we were able to kind of move him back and forth between rooms. That'll be a spot that we'll continue to get him some reps at."
Hill has seen some action as a ballcarrier this season, rushing seven times for 95 yards and one touchdown in New Orleans' first two games. Dalton, meanwhile, has yet to attempt a regular-season pass with the Saints.
Dalton's value comes in his experience. New Orleans became far too familiar with how quickly a season can go sideways after losing Winston in 2021, and Dalton's addition is an insurance policy.
For now, that's all it is. New Orleans is hoping that Dalton's role doesn't need to become more significant.
If a day off can help keep Winston in the lineup, they'll do it. Winston will likely hope the same treatment will help his top targets get back on the field.