Saints head coach Sean Payton had planned to return to the sideline after next week's bye. But apparently this week's division grudge match against the Falcons is important enough for him to combat the pain and swelling of his surgically-repaired knee.
Payton will coach from the sidelines today sporting crutches, taking the reigns of the #1 passing offense in the NFL back from his protege' Pete Carmichael Jr. He will move back down from the press booth wearing shorts, a large sleeve and black metal brace on his left leg.
Also returning to the field in Atlanta will be rookie RB Mark Ingram, who will push Chris Ivory down to the declared inactives.
Also inactive is defensive captain Jonathan Vilma, missing his third game of the season, his first three missed games of his Saints career. Replacing him admirably last week was Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Vilma's knee injury has prevented him from practicing for weeks.
Also inactive for the Saints are CB Patrick Robinson (stomach), FB Korey Hall, newly-signed RT Ray Willis, WR Adrian Arrington, and DE Turk McBride (ankle).
Robinson's stomach issue is not the same stomach illness that LT Jermon Bushrod suffered this week. Payton has said that Robinson has undergone multiple tests, that also ruled out appendicitis, but did not disclose what the problem could be. In Robinson's place, rookie CB Johnny Patrick is active for the first time since week five.
The winner of today's game will ascend to first place in the NFC South.