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John DeShazier: Quick takes from Coach Sean Payton's Thursday press conference

Chargers have improved running game

Quick takes from Coach Sean Payton'steleconference Thursday morning

  1. It hasn't gone unnoticed by the New Orleans Saints that the San Diego Chargers have worked to get running back Melvin Gordonmore involved this season. As a rookie last year, Gordon ran for 641 yards on 184 carries, and didn't score a touchdown. Through three games this season, he has run 54 times for 194 yards and four touchdowns, and has scored in each game. "You can definitely see there's been that offseason commitment to really work that element into their gameplan in their early downs," Payton said. "They've done a real good job. They're 10th in the league on offensive third-down conversion percentage. I think a lot of that has to do with their improved running game and their improved first- and second-down efficiency."
  1. Payton on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers: "If you chart his numbers – and he's dealt with a couple of injuries – but his consistency and his ability to handle pressure, hang in the pocket, make a funny-body throw, get the ball to the right player (has been outstanding). Their offense over the years has changed to some degree and yet, he's extremely competitive. All the things that you're looking for, just from a quick release to his ability to bring his team back. You never feel like, when you watch him play, that they're ever out of a game."
  1. Get used to seeing Andrus Peaton the left side of the offensive line. He was projected as the starter at right guard during the offseason, and potentially remains the right tackle of the future, but struggled acclimating to right guard throughout training camp. The move to left guard put him in more of a comfort zone (he played left tackle in college) and now he's back at his most comfortable position, left tackle, with Terron Armsteadout with injury. "I think that we've seen him at left guard for a few weeks and then at left tackle," Payton said. "When Terron is back, (Peat at left guard) would be the initial vision right now. Getting comfortable with the stance, it's what he played in college, I think we've seen him transition there easier. My vision for him this season is at that left guard or left tackle position."
  1. It appears that offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, who spent a portion of training camp with the Saints and was signed Tuesday, will fill the role that Senio Kelemeteoccupied for most of the first three games, until starting left guard Senio Kelemetewas injured against Atlanta. Lelito had been an extra blocker/jumbo tight end, but will step in for Kelemete, who had been in the rotation at right guard with Senio Kelemete before moving to left guard (see the Peat-to-left-tackle reference just above). "(Barnes) gives you some position flexibility," Payton said. "He comes into the league in his early years as a tackle, he has played guard and he's played jumbo tight end. I like his size, he was impressive in the short period of time that he was with us at the end of training camp. I think it's a good opportunity for him and us, for him to come in here and give us depth and also the ability, if need be, to give us more of a blocking presence at tight end."
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