Dennis Allen intends to carry a smokescreen with him into the weekend, but the starting QB picture looks pretty clear: Andy Dalton will line up under center when the Saints take the field across the pond.
With Jameis Winston missing a third straight practice Friday morning, the head coach said he would be "doubtful" due to his "accumulation" of injuries over the past few weeks. That includes a significant back issue, as well as an ankle injury. Winston also mentioned a hip issue when he spoke earlier this week.
"Our plan right now is to have Andy [Dalton] ready to go," Allen said. "We'll see how things go overnight, but Andy will be ready to go if that's the plan that we go."
If that had been the plan all week, the team made a concerted effort not to tip their hand. Winston spoke after Wednesday's practice and made it clear he expected to start and be on the field for practice later in the week. He had been limited in the two weeks of practices prior. Allen made it clear the decision is medical and not a quarterback change.
Wide receiver Michael Thomas has also been ruled out for Week 4 with a foot injury.
"It’s a long season," Allen said. "I don’t think his body responded quite the way we anticipated over the first couple of days. So yea, we rested him this week.”
Barring a stunning turnaround, it appears Dalton will see his first regular season action in a Saints uniform. It's been a sluggish offensive group thus far, and he'll be watched closely to see if he can turn over the engine any more effectively for a team that's scored just 10 points in the first halves of games thus far. Allen wouldn't pin any of the offensive struggles on the injuries.
Dalton spent his first 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before spending the past two years with the Cowboys and Bears. It's not his first time in London. He was part of an overseas showcase back in 2016 against Washington. Kirk Cousins, now the starter for the Vikings, also started on the opposing sideline that game. It ended in a 27-27 tie.
"Andy’s done this," Allen said. "He’s performed at a high level in our league and that’s really one of the big reasons why we brought him here is in case he’s called upon, we feel really confident that he can go in and do the job."