Jimmy Graham flags irk Saints coach

Graham said the same thing earlier this offseason, insisting that he'll be smart and will find another way to celebrate. But the former college basketball player hasn't been ready to give up on his go-to celebration of choice just yet.

Graham did the same thing two weeks ago in a Saints scrimmage, which was being officiated by visiting NFL officials in town to explain this season's new rule changes. And afterward, he took to Twitter to have a little fun with his protest.

Perhaps Graham's antics would have been tolerated if Payton wasn't already fuming over the Saints' preseason penalty epidemic.

Last week, Payton voiced his displeasure after the Saints committed 10 penalties in their preseason opener, and the coach made it a point of emphasis all week in practice. Then the team went out and committed 22 more on Friday -- plus an estimated six more that were declined by the Titans. Eighteen of those penalties (14 accepted) were committed in the first half when the starters were in the lineup.

"Obviously that was painful to watch," Payton said to open his postgame news conference, beginning a tirade that channeled former Saints coach Jim Mora. "I don't recall, I can't recall ever a game with that many penalties. And here's the thing, most of the ones I saw were good calls. So this is obviously -- this isn't about a crew calling a lot of penalties. This is obviously something I've got do a better job with. Because, look, we'll find ourselves at the short end of a game and then wonder about our offseason goals and what happened. And we won't know exactly when it happened. ...

"It's the first sign of a team that has no discipline. And that's the first sign of poor coaching. It's the first sign, along with the quarterback-center exchange. ... I'm very upset."

When asked if the defense's aggressive attempts to force more turnovers might have led to the penalties, Payton quickly shot down the excuse.

"No, listen," Payton said. "Here's a number for you -- you ready? Five takeaways. Now hear me out. Five takeaways, we're at the nine-minute mark in the fourth quarter, we're up seven. Let me say that again, five takeaways, we're at the nine-minute mark in the fourth quarter, up seven.

"We'll say, 'Hey, when we get to the regular season, it'll clean itself up.' That's silliness."

The Saints were without Drew Brees, who again sat out with an oblique strain he suffered in practice Aug. 1. Brees is expected to be healthy in plenty of time for the regular season, though. He threw passes with receiver Kenny Stills and ran sprints on the field before Friday's game, among other conditioning work.

Saints receiver Marques Colston was a surprise scratch. He watched from the sideline for an undisclosed reason.

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