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NFL: Saints coach Sean Payton returns; QB Blake Bortles added as backup

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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is out of COVID-19 protocols and returned to the shorthanded team Friday, while four more players were added to the list.

Payton tested positive for COVID-19 last week and didn’t coach in Sunday’s 9-0 win over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His return comes amid a deteriorating COVID-19 situation for the Saints, who on Thursday placed nine players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, following one each on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Friday, starting linebacker Demario Davis, starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, Pro Bowl special teams player J.T. Gray and running back Dwayne Washington were added to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Gray tested positive, as did three members of the coaching staff, NOLA.com reported.

Thursday’s addition to the list included quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian, meaning the Saints (7-7) likely will turn to rookie Ian Book as their starter Monday night when they host the Miami Dolphins (7-7).

As an insurance policy, the Saints signed journeyman quarterback Blake Bortles, 29, on Friday.

The Jaguars selected Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he started 73 games for Jacksonville, compiling a 24-49 record. He later appeared in three games for the Los Angeles Rams, and the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers both signed him, though he never played in a game for either team.

Bortles’ most recent game appearance came Dec. 1, 2019, with the Rams.

In his career, Bortles has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 17,649 yards with 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions.

Davis, 32, has never missed a game in his 158-game NFL career with the New York Jets (2012-15, 17), Cleveland Browns (2016) and Saints. Davis has three sacks, six pass breakups and 95 tackles this season through 14 starts.

Ramczyk, 27, was listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Dolphins due to a knee injury before landing on the COVID list.

–Field Level Media

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