A few bites from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Wednesday morning teleconference:
- Denver's defense took the lead role in helping the team win the Super Bowl last season, and it hasn't slacked off much this year. The Broncos lead the league in pass defense (183.3 yards allowed per game), are fourth in total defense (311.9) and are seventh in points allowed (18.4). "The first thing, just from a structure standpoint, they play a lot of man coverage," Payton said. "Even in their two-high safety look, there's someone covering you. So it's not a game where you're sitting down in soft zones and catching check-downs. Guys are on the move, pushing up, pushing under. There's a good chance that if you're catching a ball you're moving east and west or north and south – you're not sitting in a zone coverage. That complements what they're able to do so well in their rush because typically, in man-to-man coverage, you have to wait a second longer and their four- and five-man rush patterns are outstanding."
- Speaking of Denver rushers, linebacker Von Milleris the straw that stirs the drink for the Broncos in that phase of the game. The Super Bowl MVP is second in the league with 9.5 sacks this season, had 11 last season and has 69.5 in 81 career games. "He's elite and you would say clearly, I think, the best pass rusher in our game right now," Payton said. "He wins with speed, he wins with power, his get-off is outstanding. If you sit there with the same cadence, at the breath of 'Hut,' he's going to be one step past your tackle and those are all things that he does so well. He plays with leverage, so he can convert speed and all of a sudden be underneath and pushing you back into the pocket. He plays the run well. He's a fantastic player."
- After the 41-23 victory over San Franciso, Payton expressed concern that the Saints performed poorly covering kicks. To that end, the Saints signed former Packers linebacker Sam Barrington, former Broncos safety Shiloh Keo and were awarded former Broncos tight end John Phillipsoff waivers. "All three can contribute to our special teams, obviously (Phillips) first. With just two tight ends, there's a lot of stress on a guy like Josh Hill, who's been a core (special teams) player, to play more snaps at tight end. We've paid close attention the last five or six weeks looking at the wire to see if the right player at that position was available. John fits that description of what we're looking for. When it comes to Sam, we think he's someone that's athletic, that can play on teams, who's smart. His workout was good. And then Shiloh Keo is another player that's smart, good instincts, can play safety, can play dime at the linebacker position and someone that we think can help in the kicking game as well. The challenge I alluded to (after the 49ers game) was when (linebacker Nate) Stupar is playing as many snaps as he is and (linebacker) Craig(Robertson) is playing as many snaps as he is, you've got some guys nicked up, your core special teams group at the start of the season has changed. And we've got to play close attention to that so it doesn't cost us a game."
- To make room for the aforementioned three, the Saints waived defensive tackle John Jenkins, a former starter and third-round pick in 2013, cornerback Brian Dixonand linebacker Chris McCain. Jenkins was released after first-round pick Sheldon Rankinsreturned to the active roster and played against San Francisco, giving the Saints a current defensive tackle rotation of Rankins, Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davisonand rookie David Onyemata. Jenkins was inactive against San Francisco. "It really came down to numbers and production," Payton said. "We're at that point in our defensive line where it was going to be hard to get (Jenkins) active. And then, back to addressing special teams, the spot's got to come from somewhere. I'm a big fan of (Jenkins), he's worked hard. Just never really gotten, at the end of it all, the production we would've liked."