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Curtis Lofton, Zach Strief talk about the short week against Carolina

Quotes from tackle Zach Strief and linebacker Curtis Lofton's conference calls with the media on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Curtis Lofton
Media Availability
Monday, October 27, 2014

What are some of the challenges of playing a game on such short notice?

"I think any time you play on a Thursday game, I think the number one thing is after playing a physical game on Sunday, just trying to get your body to feel good and go out and play at a high level because all of these games mean something. It is just something that we have to do as players."

I know you guys talked about getting to the quarterback, getting pressure, bringing Aaron Rodgers down, creating turnovers as points of emphasis last week. Do you feel getting those results yesterday were because of that emphasis or maybe just the law of averages balancing out and you guys getting a good game together in week seven?

"You would like to say that every emphasis you put in practice you are getting turnovers, you are getting sacks. If you take it to the game then, I think we are put emphasis on a lot of things that we actually put emphasis on this past week actually showed up in the game. That just shows you how important it is to keep practicing and keep focusing on getting to the quarterback, getting takeaways and play solid defense."

How do you guys feel like the Detroit game was right where you need to be as a defense and you need to prove it this week on the road?

"I think as a team every time you go on the road it is time to start winning because it is hard keep saying no, no home versus away so if we win it proves everything and we don't have to say anything just by going out there and winning."

How much do you remember last year's game at Carolina?

"To be honest I don't really, you remember bits and pieces of the game from last year but not really too much of it. Every year Carolina has a new team and we have a new team. You can't really focus on anything that happened in the past. We are just moving forward. To be honest with you I haven't watched too much film on them. I've been focused on trying to get my body, doing my normal days, doing all my maintenance after the game and getting ready. I will start doing that this evening."

What does the game last night tell you about this defense?

"I think we have a pretty good defense. I think that when you face an elite offense like Green Bay, you know they are going to get their yards and they are going to get their big plays but at the same time you have to keep them out the end zone. I thought has a defense we did that."

On the short week does it make it any easier preparing for Carolina because they are a divisional opponent?

"I don't want to say that it makes it any easier or makes it more difficult. I think that they are Carolina. They know us. We know them. We just have to get it on Thursday."

Can you talk about Keenan Lewis?

"Keenan is like one of the true shutdown corners in the game. There are a lot of corners that would say that they do this, they do that but you look on the film and we have Keenan fighting against their best offensive wide receiver week in and week out. He holds his own and allows us to be able to rotate coverages to other guys and do certain things with him. Having a guy like him on this defense makes us who we are."

Can you talk about Corey White?

"It just goes to show that you get what you earn in this league. Corey had a great week of practice and he showed up in the game and made plays. He needed to get the tip that lead to the interception and got the interception. His confidence is pretty high right now. At the corner position you have to have guys that play with a ton of confidence and don't let too many things get to him. That's what Corey is playing with. They don't let too much stuff get to them. They go in week in and week out and give us their all."

After a win like last night, how do you concentrate on things you need to improve?

"Today is a day off for us so we haven't watched film as a group or with the coaches. I think that winning like that was a great feeling to have the team win like but at the same time there's always stuff that you can get better at. This team took a step in the right direction each week and will continue to do that."

What was your post game routine last night?

"Post-game I was driving around trying to find something to eat and then I found something to eat and got right on to taking care of the body, trying to feel better, made myself go to sleep and woke up and did a little more body maintenance actually getting a massage right now."

What does it mean to you guys after the start you had to be playing for first place in the division in the middle of the season?

"I don't think it means anything.  This is just one game.  We still have a lot of games after this.  I think as it gets closer to the end, I think the stakes start to get higher and higher but I think that our number one goal is we want to win the division.  We have a chance to take the lead.  By winning this game doesn't mean we win anything, we just take the lead.  We still have a lot of work to do and we have to go out and get this win Thursday."

New Orleans Saints Tackle Zach Strief
Media Availability
Monday, October 27, 2014

After a win like last night, how do you respond to this victory?

"I think the important thing to understand and to realize is that winning a game is not arriving. It is not the goal. Obviously the win was important. It was big for us, but changing the process and being more focused on the process is really what we have been really harping on and I think that has what's gotten us to the point that we are at right now. The fact of the matter is, you are only as good as your last performance. We have another one coming up on Thursday and the only way really to maintain what we would consider success is to have a better week this week than last week. I think at least now there is some evidence there that what we are doing is working and hopefully guys buy into it even more."

What do you guys do to change people talking about your struggles on the road?

"I think it is important to look at everything. We've lost games on the road this year that we just didn't finish. Obviously there was the game in Dallas that we didn't play real well, but the other loses have been games that you say man, you should have gotten out of there with a win. And the fact of the matter was that the things that were getting us beat were the little things that we've talked about and that we've tried to improve. Even the games at home up until really last week I would say we weren't finishing the way that we needed to. We weren't doing the things that we needed to at the end of the games to win. There was certainly more of a concerted effort at the end of this game making sure everyone was on the same page and understood the situation and making sure we were playing smart football and I think that is going to go as far as anything in terms of gaining success on the road. Look, all road games are tougher, that is league wide. You look at how we lost three of those four road games and you say well, we made some critical errors at the end of the Falcons game to give them the opportunity to get back in. Obviously the Cleveland game the offense couldn't get points and to come away with, to put them in a situation where they have to score a touchdown or even close the game out, and then obviously all the little breakdowns in Detroit. It is not that we are getting dominated on the road, we weren't finishing games. We really weren't finishing games real well at home either. I think we just have to keep growing. We have to educate guys and get guys on the same page so at the end of the games people understand the sense of urgency and really what it takes to close games out in this league."

Can you put your finger on what has been different about this organization when you were good on the road in the past?

"No, again, if that was something where we could say that is the reason and cause, it would be easy to turn around and fix. There are a lot of things that are going to go into it. There are a lot of things that contribute. Obviously we had a year where we lost one road game the whole season so that is going to bump up your numbers pretty well, going 7-1 on the year. We have been a good road team in the past and we haven't. Again, we don't gain any successes of those years in the past. We are not going to carry the demons of the past years before this. We are carrying the demons of this season but I think this team is growing up. I think we are growing up quickly. I think it is important that guys kind of see the results of a game like this past week and what really focusing on the end of the game situations can do for us. But no, if it was as simple as the beds are different or the food is different, we would just change those things, but it is not that simple."

What do you see in Mark Ingram from the last year or two to now?

"For one, I think he is more confident. I think he really understands what we are doing upfront. He's made a lot of good reads for us this year. And the fact of the matter, I think Mark is a guy that you have to give him a crease through the initial line and Mark is excellent at running through and around guys. Last year Mark took a lot of criticism early on and he didn't have anywhere to go. He didn't have anywhere to run the ball so we weren't helping him out any. I think more than anything, Mark is not only more confident in what we are doing and what we are trying to do upfront, how these plays are supposed to hit and who he has to set up for us, but I think in more in his ability, I think he's had success and I think it came at the end of last year when Mark started feeling some confidence and had some success and kind of saw how it was he could help us help him. He has grown off the confidence and look, he is running really well right now. He was running really well before he got hurt and I think if we give him an opportunity to get on the second level Mark can make a lot of plays for us. It was really good to see him get as much action as he did last night and come through with such a big game."

What are the challenges on your body to do such a quick turnaround? And as a player representative are you especially sensitive to some of the criticisms and concerns of the Thursday night games?

"I am probably more critical of the Thursday night games as a nine year veteran in the NFL than I am as a player rep. It gets harder and harder as you get older. I think the biggest difference is there is no time to just let your body recover. You spend some time after games getting really two days off after a normal game to say okay, let's let my body heal and then I'll get into kind of this rehabilitation period where I'll start working on specific things. It started last night instead of it being a situation where you just kind of go to bed. I went and got treatment done last night. I am fortunate to have a lot of that stuff at the house. But you try and jump on all of it right away and you have to be very proactive and very careful with your diet. Doing all of the things correctly that sometimes you kind of have some time to let slide because it is a quick turnaround. We are going in there tomorrow and the next afternoon we are flying out. It is a quick turnaround and I am not a fan of it. I think it is tough on guys. I think it is hard especially on older players. There is also a little mini bye at the end of it so there is kind of the carrot that gets dangled there and hopefully we will use that time appropriately and get our bodies back from this stretch."

Can you take us through your day so far?

"I got up at 7:00 this morning. I ran some errands. I've been really laying around the house. Like I said, I am really fortunate because I have so much equipment here that I've amassed over the years where I am able to do a lot of treatment at the house. I am sure there are a lot of guys that were there (at the facility). We were off today. I was up at 7:00 and I have been treating ever since, laying around mostly just trying to be aware of what it is that is sore and hurts and try to focus on those areas. That will continue through the night and it will continue all week. It is something that will go through Thursday morning. I am sure not only for us but for them."

How critical is it to have a similar running game Thursday night as you did against the Packers?

"I think you look back to the end of last season. Certainly when we played there at the end of last season and the running game was kind of a big focus for us and then we get in the playoffs and you look at the Philadelphia game, I think we all understand the importance of it. I think last night, I will tell you this, it has been a long time and it is a totally different feel to be 50/50 balanced and have the kind of effectiveness that we did. We aren't going to run for 195 yards every game but you can be effective and efficient with it. It is easier on the road to run block than it is to pass block. It is just how it is. I think if we can maintain the type of efficiency it is going to not only help us as linemen but it is going to help Drew (Brees), it is going to help the receivers because it really does open up a lot of other things and makes I think really tough for defenses to kind of keep up because you are kind of picking your poison there. You are stopping one or the other but there is a weakness in every defense. I think it is important for us. I think it might be more important than anything to maintain balance and really at the end of the day that starts with us up front. It is our responsibility."

When you are playing for first place in your eighth game, does it make it at all easier to forgive yourselves or get over the mistakes of the past?

"Look it certainly helps. It certainly is better than the alternative, we have a team in the division that hasn't lost yet and you are kind of looking up a pretty tough battle there.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't make it…it certainly puts us in a better situation and I think makes us feel better about the whole deal.  Winning your division is going to get you a home game in the playoffs to start out.  It is obviously important.  It is just like in weeks past when you look at a game after a tough loss or even after the wins and you say the difficulty and the struggle over the course of the season is to make sure that you separate each week from the other weeks.  And you try to focus on the task at hand and not look back and not look forward.  It is just overwhelming to do either of those things.  It is overwhelming to start looking at what the overall picture looks like, look at what wild card spots are. To look back and reflect and think about oh man, what could be if we didn't have this mistake or make this mistake?  It is just a little overwhelming and I think it is important for us to say this next game is the most important because it is the next game.  Obviously it is a big game because it is a divisional opponent on the road and there is an added amount of significance because we can take over first place in the division.  That is the reality of it. All of these (division) games are bigger because they kind of count for two.  We are fortunate to be in the situation that we are in, and I think that the focus is let's work on our preparation, let's continue to do the things that kind of have gotten us playing some better football right now and try your best to take it one week at a time."

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