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Inside the Locker Room

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    <span style="">                   
            <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Head Coach Sean Payton</span>                   
            <span style="">Initial comments ...</span>                

"Just a couple things on the injury front, so we're all on the same page. First off, with (Jeremy) Shockey, I decided not to go with him tonight. I would say he's real close. He wanted to go, and he could have went. He had a good week of practice and a good pregame warmup. There weren't any setbacks. At the same time, I was going to err on the side of caution. That was my decision tonight with him. I'm excited about him, and where he's at. He obviously will need to play in this upcoming week's game.
"There are four guys to report. (Marques) Colston has some bruised ribs. He had some X-rays, and they were negative. He's fine. Kevin Dudley has a sprained ankle. Reggie Bush, the report says, has a quad contusion — that's a charley horse. All right? So he's fine. Josh Savage has a right elbow that he hyperextended."

Other than wanting a good performance out of the defense, was it important to have something to get momentum going into the season?
"I think having confidence coming off preseason is important. Certainly Gary (Gibbs) and the defensive staff and the players thought this was an opportunity where we were going to get more snaps for a longer period of time. The situations, fortunately, were (such that) we had them in a lot of third-and-longs. The one thing you saw tonight was we were ahead of the change defensively. It's easy to dial up your defense when you have them in third-and-11s and third-and-nines. I thought we did a good job of tackling. Our speed to the ball was good, and our third-down play was really good. Overall I thought it was a solid effort. We mixed pressure in there. I thought they did a good job. Based on the snap count at halftime, we were way ahead offensively than we were defensively. (On offense), I thought we got sloppy at times in the tight red zone, and I'm disappointed we didn't score more. We had a lot of opportunities inside the 30 or even across the 20. We had a penalty and a fumble — those are things we need to clean up. It was certainly a better performance for us coming off last week's game."

You had said earlier in the week that Jeremy Shockey probably would play in this game. Why the decision not to play him?
"At the end of it all — and (this is) what is most important —he's healthy and ready for Tampa Bay. What I didn't want to do was go through a scenario for a possible setback. I told him I was going to err on the side of caution. I thought it was important for him to prepare as though he was playing all week long — I wasn't trying to deceive him. He was prepared to play. When we got out in the pregame, he moved around well, but I decided to hold back for one more week. That's the main thing. He was prepared to play. He'll play in the preseason game Thursday."

Does it make any difference or is it important for him to play with Drew Brees Thursday?
"I plan on giving Drew a series. He gets a lot of practice with Drew and has been going in all the practices with our first group. The main thing is to be focused and ready to play against Tampa Bay. I just want to get him ready for that game. He's doing well. I'm encouraged. He's catching the ball well and has a good feel for what we're doing."

Coming out of this game with Cincinnati, what are you most pleased with?
"We played much better defensively. We were better on third down, we did a good job against the run, and I thought our coverages were tight. We heard the quarterback. That was the big difference from last week. We played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. You could see that from the sideline."

QB Drew Brees
Tonight's game should make you feel pretty good as you prepare to start the regular season ...
"I felt like we moved the ball very well today. We left some opportunities out there for sure. We had chances to throw the ball down the field and score more points, but unfortunately we didn't do that. As far as our performance in the red zone and our pace of play, I think we're where we need to be."

Tight end Jeremy Shockey has missed time and is expected to see a lot of action next week. Is it important to you to play with him in a game?
"Yes, it is important. There's that me-to-you factor, which is the time when you both notice the same things. That takes repetition, and we need to be in games together to make that happen. If it doesn't, we'll have to learn on the run. We'll be good."

Can you talk about the competition that exists at the wide receiver position? It seems as though all these guys are playing very well ...
"We have a good problem, which is too many receivers and not enough spots. You can be sure that the guys that do make the team have absolutely earned it. All the guys are proven and have played a lot of football. We'll see how it all plays out."

FS Kevin Kasesviharn
Was there anything you saw on tape last week that made you feel like you could run a few different plays on these guys?
"I think within the things that we run, we noticed some things that would help. You kind of saw the result tonight."

Were you guys looking to redeem yourselves after last week's game, since this would be the last preseason game you'd see significant playing time?
"Yes, you want to have the right mindset going into the regular season. It's important for us to try to build on aspects of the game , and I think we were able to do that tonight."

Did your knowledge of the Bengals contribute to you getting two sacks tonight?
"No, it was the defensive scheme that allowed me to make the plays."

SS Lance Schulters
What was it like to play as part of the Saints defense, and what are your impressions of the guys on the defensive side of the ball?
"We have a lot of playmakers. If we play together as a unit, we have a chance to make a lot of big plays. It felt good to be out there running around with those guys."

What are your expectations as far as helping this football team?
"I'm going to do whatever the coaches ask me to do. I'll play special teams, or I'll be a backup. Whatever it is they need me to do, I'm going to do it."

CB Mike McKenzie
This was your first time in a game since last December. How did it feel?
"It felt pretty good. I was pleased to have a chance to be out there with my teammates. We were solid in the situations we faced today. It felt good."

What would give yourself on a scale of one to 10 in terms of your performance tonight?
"I would give myself a seven today. I'm very tough on myself, and there were some plays I could have made. I have a lot to work on, but we still have two weeks before we open the season."

Can you talk about the defense tonight compared to last week? Tonight looked to be a step forward for you guys ...
"We gave up a lot of plays on third down last week, so we wanted to come out and be sound so we could get off the field on third down. We did a pretty good job of creating pressure tonight."

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