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Cohesion essential for New Orleans Saints pass defense

'I think the first thing is the communication'


On Monday, Coach Sean Payton said that based on the success that opponents so far have had throwing the ball deep against the New Orleans Saints, New Orleans' defense should expect a steady stream of similar attacks for future foes, including the Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

"But that's going to keep coming, now," Payton said. "Those deep balls are going to keep coming because if there's only two things that are happening, a pass interference or a completion – there's no interception opportunity – then teams are going to take multiple shots more and more and more."

Thursday, when asked if he'd had a message this week for his defensive backs, Payton said the Saints have to make sure that everyone is working cohesively.

"I think the first thing is the communication, in that we're clearly understanding the coverage we're in," he said. "And then secondly, I would say, the pressure up front. In other words, this all goes together. We'll have a good three days and enough walk-through time where we'll make sure everyone's on the same page and then understand what we're seeing formationally from this week's team."

FLAGS FLEW: One of the numbers that, perhaps, was somewhat overlooked in the Saints' overtime victory over Atlanta was the fact that New Orleans was assessed 11 penalties, for 120 yards. The Saints had 12 penalties in the first two games combined.

"I think, specifically offensively, one of the things it did for us for a half of the game is it really put us behind the 8-ball in regards to our third down," Payton said. "There were two series where, third-and-long again, third-and-long again. And so, if that happens on a continued basis, then you're going to be an average offense.

"You can't go on the road and with 11 possession or 12 possessions, however many you get, and then take one or two away when you have a series that backs you up because of a penalty. There's a few in there that we didn't think were fouls; in fact, I know aren't fouls. So, we don't spend as much time with those. But the ones that we feel like were (fouls), we spend time with. We address them and we make sure we look at them.

"That's hidden yardage. You take the yardage in regards to penalties and if you agree that 100 yards is worth seven points, then you can just do the math."

TURNOVERS EVASIVE: The Saints didn't force a turnover for the second time in three games this season Sunday. They did limit the Falcons to 4-for-11 on third down, and defensive end Alex Okafor blocked a punt, but New Orleans remained minus-3 in turnover ratio.

"They come different ways – ball disruption with the interception, pressure on the quarterback," Payton said. "But the thing we need to improve on – I haven't seen many caused fumbles. And I know that starts with practice, coaching, technique and attitude. That's something that we can control and that's something that we have to be better at."

RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Returner Brandon Tate is back on the roster after being released prior to the season. The receiver competed for that duty during training camp and has been brought back now that Tommylee Lewis (knee) is on injured reserve.

No. 3 quarterback Taysom Hill handled the kick return duties the last two games, and running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Ted Ginn Jr. split the punt return duties against Atlanta. However, Kamara and Ginn have pivotal roles in the Saints' offense, and Hill's offensive duties have expanded, to go along with his other special team duties. Tate's presence could relieve all three from return responsibilities.

"We feel like we know the player well from camp, and he gives us some flexibility as a punt and kick returner," Payton said of Tate.

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Receiver Cameron Meredith was active for the first time this season Sunday, after being inactive the first two games. His first catch as a Saint was an 11-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees in the third quarter, to give the Saints a 23-21 lead.

"It's good to have him up," Payton said. "I think there's a lot of confidence in how he's playing right now and I think the more time we have together, relative to that sub-group, I think the more it'll benefit Drew."


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