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Saints HC Sean Payton tests positive for COVID-19, will not coach vs. Bucs

Saints head coach Sean Payton will not be on the sidelines for Sunday night's prime-time game against the Buccaneers after testing positive for COVID-19, the team announced Friday.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will assume head-coaching duties in Payton's absence while offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael will call plays.

"It'll be really odd," Allen said Friday of playing without Payton. "Sean's our leader, and he's the guy that has been running the show around here. So it'll be a lot different. It'll be a big challenge without him being there.

"But the real deal is he's prepared all of us for how we have to play the game. We know what's expected of us. Every single one of us ... knows exactly what's expected of us. Our job's to go out there Sunday and perform, and that's what we plan on doing."

Payton is fully vaccinated, according to the team.

This is the second time the 57-year-old coach has contracted the virus since last year. Payton made headlines in March 2020 after becoming the first known person in the NFL to test positive for the virus.

A fixture on Payton's staff since 2006, Carmichael has taken over play-calling duties multiple times during his 13-year tenure as OC. In addition to the preseason, Carmichael previously called plays during the 2011 regular season and playoffs, the entirety of the 2012 season which Payton missed due to a suspension and the first 10 games of the 2016 season, per's Jeff Duncan.

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