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By Brett Martel / AP
NEW ORLEANS — Saints coach Sean Payton is trying not to let New Orleans’ latest bout with key injuries undermine his club’s Super Bowl aspirations.
A pair of starting defensive linemen who are both former first-round draft choices — end Marcus Davenport and tackle Sheldon Rankins — left last week’s loss to San Francisco with what turned out to be season-ending injuries.
But as the Saints (10-3) prepare to meet Indianapolis (6-7) on Monday night, they do so having already demonstrated how resilient they can be without prominent players in the lineup.
The Saints went 5-0 while record-setting quarterback Drew Brees was out with a thumb injury early this season. Star running back Alvin Kamara, top receiving tight end Jared Cook, left tackle Terron Armstead, left guard Andrus Peat, top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and return specialist Deonte Harris have missed games with injuries this season as well. Rankins also sat out the season’s first three games while completing his recovery from an Achilles tendon tear in last season’s playoff opener.
Yet by Thanksgiving, the Saints were NFC South title holders for a third season running and are still in contention to capture one of the top two playoff seeds in the conference. ...
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