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Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints defense ready themselves for next challenge

Check out the best action shots from the Saints in Week 4 as they host the Dallas Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Check out the best action shots from the Saints in Week 4 as they host the Dallas Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Marshon Lattimore wasn't having any of it.

Sure, New Orleans' standout cornerback has a bit of history with Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans, dating to Lattimore's rookie season, when Evans blindsided the defenseless Lattimore while Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston – from the sideline – was having a post-play discussion with Lattimore.

But with the Saints (3-1) set to take on Tampa Bay (2-2) on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with first place in the NFC South Division on the line, what has become a must-see matchup for some will be another day at the office for Lattimore, he said.

"He's just the next player I've got to play against," Lattimore said. "That's how I'm going to look at it."

However he needs to view it in order to be as dominant as he was last Sunday against Dallas, the Saints will take. Because Lattimore probably played his best game of the season in a 12-10 victory, helping limit Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper to five catches (on eight targets) for 48 yards. Lattimore finished with four tackles and two passes defensed.

"It was really good," Coach Sean Payton said of Lattimore's play against Dallas. "He's played well. He did a great job against a good player."

"Just staying locked in," Lattimore said. "They're not going to go at me every play, so it's on me to stay locked in. So when they come at me, I'll be right on point.

"Just trying to be the player I'm trying to be and that I'm trying to become, as far as All-Pro, Hall of Fame-type of player. I have to be locked in every play. My coach (Aaron Glenn) played for 15 years (in the NFL), and he knows what it takes. He told me to just to be consistent, and I'm taking that in stride and keep it pushing."

The Saints will look to continue making positive strides against a Bucs offense that scored six touchdowns and totaled 464 yards in Tampa Bay's 55-40 road victory against the Rams last Sunday. Tampa Bay is averaging 30.8 points per game, fourth-most in the league, 273.5 passing yards (eighth) and 29.8 rushing attempts (tied for fifth).

"The offense is explosive," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said. "They've always had the play-makers, they've always had those guys. Jameis is a No. 1 pick for a reason. Mike Evans is Mike Evans. O.J. Howard is a first-round tight end, (receiver) Chris Godwin is a great player in his own right.

"Those backs, they run hard, they fight for every yard. And then you add in a guy like (Coach) Bruce Arians, with the type of confidence that he has and the type of calls he can call out there on the field, he's going to air it out. He's going to try to put up a lot of points. If he can hang a 50-spot on you, he will, as we saw with the Rams.

"We've got our work cut out for us, but we're always up to the challenge. We're never backing down from whatever's at hand. So we'll bang this tape, and then we'll get a great gameplan together and then go out there and try to execute like we did against Dallas."

The Dallas game wasn't just Lattimore's best of the season, but the defense's as well. The Saints held the Cowboys, who entered the game with offensive rankings as high or higher than Tampa Bay's, to 10 points and 257 yards, and forced three turnovers.

Payton said the Bucs will be as formidable, especially at receiver with Evans (18 catches for 368 yards and four touchdowns) and Godwin (26-386-4).

"They're explosive at receiver," Payton said. "I think the offensive line is playing a lot better, physical. They do a good job with mixing the run and the pass. But I think their explosiveness and the depth they have at that (receiver) position is impressive.

"Each week there's a top-flight receiver. Mike gives you a number of challenges. He's got really good size, he's good range down the field, he's someone that is explosive, he's got really good hands to track the ball in a crowd. So I think he's one of the better receivers we see every year."

Said Lattimore: "They (throw) deep. We've got to defend the shots. Defend the run; the run sets up the play-action or the drop-back pass. It all goes hand in hand. We've got to stop the run, stop the big plays."

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