Jimmy Graham is coming off one of the worst performances of his career, dropping a career-high three passes and failing to reel in two more that were broken up as they hit his hands last week.
"We've got to be able to handle some balls that are thrown our way," Payton said this week, via ESPN.com. "And sometimes it's going to be tight, and sometimes it's going to be bumped. That's part of the deal."
The Saints have been tight-lipped about the particulars of Graham's injury, but there are signs that it is more serious than originally reported.
Graham acknowledged a week ago that he's still managing the pain "every day" and that the shoulder "has really held me back sometimes."
The All-Pro tight end is no stranger to lingering injuries. His consistency has taken a severe blow due to a 2012 season-long wrist injury, a 2013 torn plantar fascia and the current shoulder sprain.
In effect, Graham has been half as productive while battling through injuries.
At peak strength over the past two years, he has averaged eight receptions, 104 yards and a touchdown per game. Unable to beat double teams and fight through traffic at the catch point, that average has dropped to 4.5 catches, 52 yards and 0.8 touchdowns while playing in pain.