The New Orleans Saints had a two and a half hour practice today at the club's indoor facility on Christmas Eve. Following practice, head coach Sean Payton updated injuries with the media, discussed the club's tackling technique and also talked about Falcons WR Roddy White and his continued improvement:
"Let's hit the injury report first, a lot of it is similar to yesterday. Danny Clark (hamstring) was full; Kawika Mitchell (hamstring) was full; Jonathan Vilma (quad) was full; Courtney Roby (head) was full; Jabari Greer (knee) was full; Robert Meachem (toe) was full; Anthony Hargrove (knee) was full; Sedrick Ellis (wrist) was full; Charles Brown (back) was limited; Remi Ayodele (ankle) was limited; Chris Ivory (hamstring) was limited; the only one that didn't practice was David Thomas with his knee. Our schedule was much like it would be on a Thursday with nickel being the emphasis."
When you don't tackle well like last week although you have been tackling well all year, how do you deal with that the week after? Do you put more emphasis on it?
"You always want to address it in a practice. We were in pads for a good portion of yesterday's practice and you might have a period that you spend more time on it that you normally would have during a normal Wednesday base practice. I think you always try to take it to the practice field and that could be with anything as it pertains to pass-protection, passing routes, kick return or an area like you mentioned that you think you can improve from the game before. You try to make that adjustment and make that correction both physically and mentally on the practice field."
After the game players talked about having taken bad angles to the tackle. Why was that? Was that all because Ray Rice is a very good player?
"It's generally a combination of a number of things. Number one, Rice is a very good player. There are some leverage points that you look to shore up and clean up. The running game is about fits and it's about all those fundamentals that we preach and talk about. That's what you would review and drill."
Did you feel that against the Ravens the defense was more concerned with stripping the ball than simply making the tackle?
"I don't know that that would be the case. We pride ourselves in being a team that can take the ball away. I think when you look at each play specifically you can find areas to improve and areas to correct but I don't know that that was any different in that game. Certainly there were some big plays but in regards to our approach and how we play the game, I don't think it was treated any differently."
Are there similarities between Michael Turner and Ray Rice?
"One thing about Michael Turner is that he has very good pad level and he runs with that. He's a hard target; I heard the expression that you have his shoulder pads and then all of a sudden, there are his shins. He protects himself very well and that has been a big plus to his durability with how he runs. He has a great center of gravity; he has good vision and good balance. All of those qualities make him a special running back."
When you have a game like the last time you played Atlanta and they ran for over 200 yards and a lot of carries, was it more that you just didn't get off the field on third down or was there something more fundamentally wrong?
"You start with third down because as you convert third downs, you're on the field longer and your totals go up, as you hear me say every week. I think it starts with the ability to offensively convert your third downs and to get off the field defensively on those downs; that's real important."
Roddy White has been around for a couple of years but seems to have quietly emerged as a real star. What does he do so well?
"I don't know that it has been quietly. Clearly when you look at his production, it speaks for itself. He has exceptional speed; I think he's sudden in and out of his cuts; he has strong hands in traffic; he can give you all the different routes. They do a great job of locating him within their packages in different spots. But he has emerged as one of the top receivers in our game. When you watch the film and you're able to see each week his involvement, it's pretty amazing. They do a great job with him; you factor in the scheme, you factor in the quarterback and the individual and you have all those ingredients to the type of season and the type of career that he's beginning to have."