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John DeShazier: Rams defense has Coach Sean Payton's attention

Rams have one of best defenses in football

Check out the best photos of the Saints defense vs. Panthers on Thursday Night Football on November 17, 2016.

Quick takes from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Wednesday teleconference:

  1. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald(31 tackles, five sacks, three passes defensed, and a forced fumble this year, and 20 combined sacks over the combined 2015 and '14 seasons) is considered among the best – if not the best – in the league at his position. And, of course, he has the attention of Payton and his staff, who must prepare for the pressure he presents from the interior rather than the pressure presented from an edge rusher. "When you're preparing for an edge rusher, an outside player, there are alignments that you can take formation-wise, there are things that you can do with your tight end, receivers, even backs. When you're preparing for a three-technique (defensive tackle), it's a little bit more challenging. You can kind of turn your protection. If you picture a three-technique and then the other defensive tackle maybe being a little tighter, you can kind of initiate your turn and try to…slide the line a little that way when you're not getting pressure looks. But the distinct difference is, you can't, by alignment necessarily, create ways to change his rush pattern. In other words, you can't align someone in the B-gap to slow down a three-technique. Different than when you're preparing for an edge rusher."
  1. Payton said he is seeing progress from Saints rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who has played the last three games after missing the first seven while recovering from a broken fibula. Rankins' snaps and impact steadily are increasing, from one tackle in his debut, to two tackles (and a sack) against Denver, to five tackles against Carolina. "This past week at Carolina, he had some outstanding rush snaps. We're encouraged and I think it's helping our pass rush in general."
  1. Payton said he couldn't say if running back Mark Ingramwas in the concussion protocol, but that Ingram will practice Wednesday. "It's encouraging with him and I think I've said that all along."
  1. Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, will make his second NFL start Sunday against the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Goff completed 17 of 31 passes for 134 yards, and ran four times for 11 yards, in his debut against Miami. The Rams lost 14-10. "You still prepare for the offense because it's not like it's an entirely new system they're moving to with a change in quarterbacks," Payton said. "So you've still got to prepare for the receiver threats, you've got to prepare for (running back Todd) Gurley – how they like to use him, what are the schemes in the running game. You've got preseason tape and at this point in the season, 10 games in, I think there's plenty of tape to look at and say, 'This is what we think they are and who they want to be.' Obviously, there will be some wrinkles. I thought (Goff) handled everything pretty well last weekend. I thought he did a pretty good job avoiding and creating a little bit outside the pocket. I thought he handled it pretty well."
  1. The Rams will enter Sunday's game with one of the stingiest defense in the league, allowing just 18.7 points per game. "They rush the passer well. I think they're playing with a lot of confidence. When you watch the film they're aggressive to the football, they're constantly looking for the takeaway opportunity. I think that front is very challenging, they're athletic."
  1. Payton further explained how the addition of Kevin O'Deato the coaching staff is designed to help bolster the special teams. "We're looking for fortify the troops, not change them right now. A guy like Kevin, who I've known over the years, is someone that comes with an expertise in developing and training kickers. But also, (he's) a guy who has been a special teams coordinator, he has been an assistant special teams coach. I know he's thought highly of. I think Kevin's experience will help (special teams coordinator) Greg(McMahon) and (special teams assistant) Stan(Kwan)."
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