The New Orleans Saints are set to open their season Sunday in an empty Mercedes-Benz Superdome due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saints tackle Terron Armstead had pretty blunt assessment of what playing in an empty arena will be like:
But while Saints players are disappointed, the team is focused on earning a victory Sunday when New Orleans hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
“You know, you love to see the fans interact with the fans. That energy…,” Armstead said. “…It's not just (us), we're not the only team that can't have fans. Just everybody is faced with this challenge.
“We have to create our own energy. We know what we are playing for. That is ultimately what it is.”
Throughout training camp the Saints spoke about the goal of winning a Super Bowl and despite this season being quite different due to the pandemic, the team is focusing on what it can control.
“Ultimately, there's a rectangle field out there with stripes on it," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We're playing a game that involves technique and discipline and the team that tackles and blocks and does the fundamentals best typically wins on Sunday."
Knowing the team wouldn't have fans for much of the season, the Saints practiced twice in an empty Superdome. During the second workout, New Orleans played NFL's allotted amount of crowd noise over the speakers.
"So it is what it is, but I will say the crowd noise that the league approved is nothing compared to what the dome sounds like," Saints running back Alvin Kamara said. "I feel like they kind of played us on that."
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore echoed his teammate saying that the atmosphere inside the Superdome can't be recreated but said the team has to focus on their goal.
"The Dome gets loud, you can barely hear it," Lattimore said. "It's not going to be anything like how it usually is. But no, it's not something that we can control. We just have go out there and play."