METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says cornerback Delvin Breaux needs lower-leg surgery that will sideline him about six weeks and that an initial misdiagnosis of Breaux’s injury has sparked a shake-up in the team’s medical staff.
Payton says Breaux has a fibula fracture that was initially diagnosed as a contusion. Breaux has missed more than a week of practice and Payton said he had been getting frustrated with the pace of Breaux’s recovery, based on the initial diagnosis.
“I certainly was pushing him, based on the information I was getting,” Payton said.
The coach said the Saints will replace two orthopedic surgeons and in the meantime receive help from Chargers physicians during joint practices in California leading up to their game Sunday in Los Angeles.
“It’s one of those positions with every team that there’s always that level of importance to come up with the right opinion,” Payton said of the decision to replace the physicians. “For years, those guys have done a great job. And yet there was a point at which we just felt as an organization that that change was going to be necessary for us.
“It’s not one event. It probably builds up over a period of time,” Payton added. “You’re not going to bat a thousand here, but you’re just hoping that more often than not, you’re getting the right information.”
Breaux is at least the second starting Saints player this offseason to have surgery delayed because an initial diagnosis deemed an operation not necessary. Center Max Unger had foot surgery in May and is now in a race to rehabilitate by the regular season opener. Had surgery been performed a couple months earlier, Unger could have been back for the start of training camp.
Payton said he met with the entire team to discuss the decision to replace the club’s physicians, comparing it to a team’s decision to move on from a player, coach or other key personnel.
“The same thing applies. And certainly that umbrella of just the confidence level in other areas applies as well,” Payton said. “It’s a competitive business, and it’s part of the NFL.”
The orthopedic surgeons let go are Deryk Jones and Misty Suri.
The decision is somewhat of an awkward one because both physicians are with Ochsner Health System, which is one of the most visible sponsors of the Saints as well as the NBA’s Pelicans. Both teams are owned by Tom Benson.
“We understand that the intense pressure a professional sports team is under at the start of a new season can cause unexpected changes,” Ochsner said in an email to The Associated Press. “While we were surprised, we will respect the decision of the Saints’ leadership. … We stand behind our strong Sports Medicine Program, including Dr. Jones and Dr. Suri and a team made up of nationally recognized orthopedic surgeons who are fellowship trained in sports medicine.”
Suri, who has worked with the Saints much of the past decade, also began working with the Pelicans last season and will continue to work with the NBA club, according to Ochsner’s statement.
Ochsner added that it will continue to provide “all other health care services to both teams’ players, families and staff” and will maintain its official sponsorship of both clubs.
The Pelicans, who also have been using Ochsner orthopedic physicians, have been plagued by injury problems in recent seasons. At least two Pelicans players, Jrue Holiday and Quincy Pondexter, have had setbacks during rehabilitation from initial operations and required additional surgeries. Suri began working with the Pelicans after that.
Breaux has been a starter since joining New Orleans in 2015, but missed most of last season with leg and shoulder injuries.
None of several Saints players made available to media after Wednesday’s practice disagreed with the club’s decision to change team physicians — at least not publicly. Most said they understand changes like this happen in pro sports from time to time.
“People make mistakes and sometimes you have to pay for them,” defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said.
“It’s not like a panic or worry with any of the players about getting a good doctor in here,” Davison added. “We’re worried about winning games.”
Notes: The Saints’ top draft choice, CB Marshon Lattimore, returned to practice on Wednesday. Payton said he is optimistic that Lattimore, drafted 11th overall, will see some playing time in the next preseason game. … Rookie DE Trey Hendrickson also practiced. Those missing practice included LB Stephone Anthony, WR Ted Ginn and CB Sterling Moore.
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