Saints hold experience edge under center
Drew Brees will lead the New Orleans offense onto the field at Minnesota and commence the 13th postseason game of his stellar career, already armed with seven such victories and one Super Bowl ring for the Saints.
“I prepare for every game as if it’s that magnitude,” Brees said.
“When you’re in games of that magnitude, it’s as if you’ve been there and done it many times before, even if it was just in your mind.”
For Case Keenum, it’s truly all in his mind.
His first start in the NFL playoffs will come when the Vikings kick off their divisional round game on Sunday.
“I’m going to play like I know how to play. I don’t have to be anybody but myself. Not more conservative or less conservative. Either way, I’m going to be me,” said Keenum, whose successful takeover for the injured Sam Bradford helped lead the Vikings (13-3) to their best record in 19 years.
“That’s all I have to be. I’ve got a great squad in this room.”
Solely measuring quarterback experience and accomplishment, the Saints have a clear advantage over the Vikings in this divisional round game to help determine the matchup in the NFC Championship Game. Keenum, though, has been overcoming the odds all season, let alone his career.
“I always root for guys like that. Kind of the undersized guy that is coming out and nobody wants to give him any credit and always plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Brees said.
Though he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round in 2001 out of Purdue, with Keenum going undrafted out of Houston and needing the Texans practice squad to get his career going in 2012, Brees can relate. He’s shorter than the NFL standard for their position, too. Oh, and they’re both from Texas.
Bradford ready to go: The Minnesota Vikings have activated quarterback Sam Bradford from injured reserve, putting their original starter this season on the roster before their first playoff game.
Starter Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter give the Vikings four quarterbacks on the active roster.
Not looking back: At the time the score looked like a misprint. Jacksonville 30. Pittsburgh 9. On the road.
A result so stunningly one-sided Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stood in the locker room on that gray October afternoon only half-jokingly wondered if he still had “it.”
Throwing five interceptions, two of which the Jaguars returned for momentum-swinging, confidencesapping touchdowns, will do that.
Yet, Roethlisberger insists he’s not out for revenge in the rematch on Sunday when the Jaguars visit Heinz Field in the divisional round with a trip to the AFC title game on the line.
There’s too much at stake for him to settle some sort of personal vendetta.
Or so he says.
“I’ll play anyone in the postseason,” Roethlisberger said.
Only Jacksonville isn’t “anyone.” Not anymore. Not after the NFL’s top-ranked defense proved that breakout performance three months ago was a sign of things to come.
The Jaguars don’t play a particularly pretty brand of football. They also don’t particularly care.
Doubt them all you want. Mock their offense at your leisure.
Last they checked, there will be 24 teams watching the playoffs this weekend and Jacksonville isn’t one of them.
“We’ve just got to score one more point than they do,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said.
“It doesn’t matter who scores it, where it comes from, how we do it, what it looks like, we score one more than them and I’m happy with how we did it.”
One more season: Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says the 2018 season will be his last.
Davis confirmed his decision during an appearance on NFL Network on Friday. While the Panthers didn’t make an official announcement, the team posted a picture of Davis on its Twitter page with the word “Respect.”
Davis, 34, was Carolina’s firstround draft pick in 2005 and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. He’s seventh in team history with 13 career interceptions and eighth with 28 sacks.
Davis was suspended for one game late in the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams.
New GM in Houston: The Houston Texans have hired Brian Gaine as general manager and extended the contract of coach Bill O’Brien through 2022.
The team announced the deals Saturday. Gaine signed a five-year contract and O’Brien was extended for four years.
Gaine brings 19 years of NFL personnel experience to Houston. He spent the 2017 season as the Buffalo Bills’ vice president of player personnel. He also served as the Texans’ director of player personnel from 2015-’16 and director of pro personnel in 2014.
Trouble finds Foster: San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is free on bond after his arrest in Alabama on a charge of second-degree possession of marijuana.
The Tuscaloosa News reports the 23-year-old, who just finished his rookie season, was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday.
Tuscaloosa Police, in a news release Saturday, acknowledged officers encountered Foster and “found probable cause to arrest him.” The release did not address whether he was pulled over, why police suspected he had marijuana or how much they say he had.
A statement from the 49ers Friday night said: “The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Reuben Foster and we are currently gathering all relevant facts.”