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Kenny Vaccaro benched by New Orleans Saints

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Saints coach Sean Payton promised changes in New Orleans this week after their meltdown against Carolina. He's delivered.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that the team is going to bench talented second-year safety Kenny Vaccaro, per a source informed of the team's plans. He's made plenty of big plays this season, and Rapoport notes that he's received "several" game balls. But Vaccaro's overaggressive style has typified a defense that has lacked discipline and given up a ton of long gains.

The benching is especially harsh because the Saints have already lost safeties Jairus Byrd and Rafael Bush for the season. They are already thin at the position. There has been a lot of talk about leadership, and the new-school Saints players not understanding how things are done with the team. Perhaps there is more to the Vaccaro story, but his on-field play warranted a change. ProFootballFocus ranks Vaccaro 84th out of 86 safeties.

The move away from Vaccaro comes on a day where Payton met with at least 10 veterans for "review." Rapoport described the atmosphere as "very tense." The team also waived wide receiver Joseph Morgan on Tuesday.

These are the types of moves usually associated with a team way out of the playoff race. 5-8 teams usually are not competing for a division title, but these Saints are currently tied for first place in the NFC South.

This is a last gasp effort by Payton to send a message to his team. It's an attempt to gain control of a season that has spiraled lower than anyone expected.

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