Bits and pieces from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton'sThursday morning teleconference with local media:
SAFETY FIRST:Payton said that safety Kenny Vaccarohad one of his best games of the season against Chicago, and Vaccaro is putting together his best NFL season. He already has a career high in interceptions (three) and also has a fumble recovery for a touchdown, seven passes defensed and a half-sack.
"I think he's playing good football and I like that he's closer to the ball," Payton said. "I think that he's doing a good job of handling the different roles – he's over slot receivers, he's done a good job when he's pressure. I think D.A. (defensive coordinator Dennis Allen) and his staff and those guys, they've packaged this well together."
REAL McCOY:Don't let the sparse numbers (two sacks, 20 tackles, one pass defensed) fool you into believing that Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is anything less than the five-time Pro Bowler that he is.
"You see him at the three (technique) mostly, some at the nose," Payton said. "He's a wide rush, he's extremely difficult in those passing situations when they thin your offensive line out. He'll get almost in a gap and put the stress on the guard.
"You've got to be real careful about where you're turning your center. He's like those players – we've only faced a few – that's so good off the snap. It seems like we've had a stretch of real, real good three-techniques for about three or four weeks now. But he's definitely playing exceptionally well."
ACTION WITH JACKSON:One of Tampa Bay's big offseason additions was receiver DeSean Jackson(25 catches, 397 yards, two touchdowns). Jackson has had five 1,000-yard seasons, six seasons of at least 56 receptions and seven in which he has averaged at least 16.2 yards per catch.
"He's dynamic," Payton said. "He can run, and you see it. He typically playing opposite of (Mike) Evans, playing at the 'Z.' They'll line him up inside at times. He's elusive and if he catches the ball in stride, he's exceptionally dangerous because he can take these in cuts and get a lot of YAC (yards after catch) out of the plays.
"He still has the deep speed. He's a play-maker. The tight end (Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard) – when you start looking at the combination of skill players, it's challenging when you get to third down because you're having to keep hats on all these guys. It's challenging when you get to red zone."
NEW ORLEANS 5-0:Occasionally, the Saints will employ a five-defensive lineman look. "Typically, what it does is, it puts the five offensive linemen on a 5-0 rule," Payton said. "So when you do that, you've got one-on-one blocks for everyone. It can become challenging to run against and obviously, you can get thinned out in the passing game. If everyone's got someone then there's no center sliding over to help the guard on one of the (defensive) tackles."