Saints’ Sanders out after positive COVID-19 test

  • Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
  • Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
  • Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate

METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints could be without both of their top receivers Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Emmanuel Sanders will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, coach Sean Payton told reporters. And Michael Thomas’ status is in doubt because of a hamstring injury that crept up this week.

Payton, speaking Friday, said Sanders experienced symptoms of the virus, leading him to test positive Thursday. The coach said the Saints did extensive contact tracing Thursday with other players as well.

Sanders, who practiced Wednesday and Thursday, will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It’s unclear if any other Saints players’ statuses will be in jeopardy because of contract tracing. However, there was only one other new absence at Friday’s practice during the early portion open to the media – reserve cornerback Ken Crawley.

The other players who were absent Friday were already on the injury list: Thomas (ankle/hamstring), backup receiver Bennie Fowler (shoulder) and guard Nick Easton (concussion).

Sanders, an 11-year veteran who signed with the Saints in free agency, had really started to develop a connection with quarterback Drew Brees in recent weeks after a slow start to the season. Sanders caught a career-high 12 passes for 122 yards in Week 5. The Saints had a bye in Week 6.

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