METAIRIE, La. -- Olindo Mare hit a number of field goals from various distances at Thursday's practice, giving New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton enough confidence to keep Mare active this Sunday night in Seattle.
"Mare looked a lot better, looked sharp, did a good job," Payton said.
Mare, who hurt his right groin practicing an onside kick a little over a week ago, made only two of four field goal attempts during the Saints 16-13 loss to Carolina last Sunday.
During the loss, Mare kicked a 20-yard chip shot low and it was easily blocked by Julius Peppers. He also pulled a 54-yard attempt wide left.
Mare sat out Wednesday's practice, and the Saints worked out seven kickers this week, including veterans Mike Vanderjagt and Martin Gramatica.
Most of Thursday's practice was closed to reporters, but Mare made a handful of field goal tries, one from as long at 42 yards, before the media was escorted out.
"I won't be kicking any 60-yard field goals or kickoff, but I don't think they're expecting me to," Mare said. "I expect to play and I expect to do well. ... I did a good job today making some field goals and felt like I had a little more height and distance than I had last week. With two more days of rest, hopefully by Sunday it will be enough to make a huge difference."
Punter Steve Weatherford handled kickoffs last weekend. The Saints did not give up any long returns, although a couple of the kicks were line drives that came a little too close to the sideline for Payton's comfort.
"He had some kicks the other game that were what we wanted and a few that he was fortunate they didn't go out of bounds, so he needs to improve," Payton said. "So I'd be more comfortable if our normal kickoff guy was kicking, but he'll have to fill in if that's what we need, and I'm sure he'll do a better job."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press