METAIRIE, La. (AP) – Finally, Saints coach Sean Payton gets to do what he loves the most.
Nearly 19 months after he coached his last game, Payton will be back on the sideline when New Orleans plays the Kansas City Chiefs in an exhibition opener Friday night at the Superdome.
It won't come close to matching the intensity of his last game, a pulsating, excruciating 36-32 loss at San Francisco in the divisional round of the 2011 playoffs. But the dome should be rocking for his return from an unprecedented year-long suspension for his role in the bounty scandal.
Without Payton, the Saints slipped to 7-9 last year, losing their first four games en route to their first sub-.500 season since 2007.