How Hurricane Ida is impacting New Orleans Saints ahead of 2021 NFL season

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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As Hurricane Ida thrashed New Orleans on Sunday afternoon, Saints players had the day off and got used to their temp surroundings in downtown Dallas. The sudden relocation of about 160 football employees (players, coaches and staff) and more than 100 family members happened virtually overnight on Friday, once the severity of the hurricane became apparent. Owner Gayle Benson authorized the mobilization of two charter planes to fly the team people and families to Dallas an hour apart late Saturday afternoon. Some families with pets chose to make the drive to Dallas and meet the team there.

Looming details:

• The Saints will practice in the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington today, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

• Tuesday is cut day around the NFL, with teams required to pare rosters from 80 to 53 by 3 p.m. CT. That will make it tough for GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton, who will likely have to make their cuts before practice at the hotel in Dallas.

• This weekend is a mini-bye weekend for all NFL teams. No preseason games. And most coaches will give their players a long weekend off. The Saints are likely to give their players Thursday through Sunday off, but where will the players go? Some will certainly go to New Orleans to check on their homes; some may want to leave from Dallas for a four-day break before the start of the season. Details TBD on that.

• When Katrina hit 16 years ago, the Superdome was damaged and the Saints had to spend the season on the road, playing in Baton Rouge and San Antonio. New Orleans has but two home games before Halloween this year—Sept. 12 against Green Bay, Oct. 3 against the Giants. If the team has to play away from home because of the effects of Ida, the league makes sure there are alternate sites for every game in case of emergency. A couple of points to make on this: The NFL wouldn’t move the Sept. 12 game to Lambeau Field for competitive reasons, giving the Pack home-field advantage in such a significant game. And with prospective sites like Indianapolis, Detroit, Houston and Atlanta all unavailable because those teams are home on the 12th, the vacancy at AT&T Stadium in Texas that day might make it the best alternative sight. It’s too early to seriously consider Packers-Saints at Jerryworld in Week 1, but it’s certainly in the back of minds at the NFL this morning.

• You might also wonder whether the league might try to reschedule the game to later in the season through the juggling of bye weeks. That’s highly unlikely. The NFL worked hard to make the Week 1 schedule very strong, to kick off the season with strong ratings. On Sept. 9, Dallas-Tampa leads the season and should do huge numbers. On Sept. 12, Pittsburgh-Buffalo is the marquee 1 p.m. game, Green Bay-New Orleans (FOX) and Cleveland-Kansas City (CBS) strong late-window games, with the Bears-Rams Sunday night and Ravens-Raiders Monday night good draws. The last thing the NFL would do is take Packers-Saints off FOX, barring unforeseen events.

Read more in Peter King’s Football Morning in America.