Saints evolve from Week 1 dying stares to NFC Divisional dance strikes


Death stares were all the rage for the New Orleans Saints leaving their Week 1 loss at Minnesota. You remember the piercing serial glance from Adrian Peterson to Sean Payton felt around the NFL world, right?

Payton and the Saints are neck deep in the latest NFL craze as they enter the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Instead of death stares, it’s all about dance moves.

And we mean Payton’s dance moves, which are basically rhythmic zombie arms with some knee bends mixed in.

Linebacker Craig Robertson marched throughout the locker room Wednesday with a boom box blasting the newest Saints anthem, “Hit the Sean Payton,” performed by local musician Shamarr Allen.

Of all the wacky Saints songs to ever exist, this one is actually catchy. The non-complexity of the Payton dance adds more appeal to the latest craze.

Safety Vonn Bell and I were in the midst of an interview when Robertson strolled by blasting the Payton song. I asked if the Payton dance would leapfrog “The Dab,” made popular in sports by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

“(The Dab) is over with. It’s over with,” Bell said with a bright smile.

No one was dancing after Week 1 at Minnesota or Week 2 against New England. It was more like tiptoeing throughout the Saints’ training facility.

The complexion of the 2017 Saints after the Week 1 matchup at Minnesota to this week leading up to New Orleans’ second playoff game of the year couldn’t be more different.

Bell may be the perfect poster child for the Saints’ evolution during the past four months.

I prefaced a question to Bell about the team’s transformation by bringing up how he only played eight or nine snaps in the season opener. He corrected me quickly.

“Six (snaps). I’ll never forget,” said Bell, who’s now a constant fixture on the Saints defense.

All Bell is known for now is how he blitzed Newton on the final play of the Saints’ wild-card win against Carolina. He sacked Newton to end the game and to end the Panthers’ season.

Bell’s reimplementation into the starting lineup only scratches the surface as to how altered the Saints have become from then to now.

“We’ve come a long way,” guard Larry Warford said. “I feel like our cohesion is spot on. We work really well with each other. We understand each other a lot better than we did in the beginning of this season. It shows. We’ve been successful. We’re still growing. It’s a never-ending process, and we know we’re going to continue to grow.”

The evolution of the Saints commenced following the team’s loss at Minnesota.

Probable defensive rookie of the year Marshon Lattimore admittedly lack total comfort with the defense in his NFL debut. Other rookies like tackle Ryan Ramczyk, safety Marcus Williams and tailback Alvin Kamara received their first professional snaps that day as well.

Left tackle Terron Armstead missed the opener with an injury. Max Unger received his first live action with his starting lineup teammates since the 2016…



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