Bits and pieces from the Tuesday morning teleconference with New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton:
Defensive end Cam Jordan possibly is having the best season of his career, which already includes two Pro Bowl appearances. He has 10 sacks (tied for seventh in the league), seven passes defensed (tops among defensive linemen), two forced fumbles, an interception for a touchdown, 52 tackles and a steady torrent of pressure applied that might not result in a sack, but often results in harried quarterbacks and incompletions.
His relentlessness always is on display.
"I would say this with Cam, and this I've said all along: His stamina is one of his greatest strengths," Payton said. "His ability to play a down at a high rate, with a lot of energy, and then kind of recover – because we have these, they're really four-second and five-second downs, and then you get 20 seconds, and then you get another four seconds, five seconds, and then you get 20 seconds – his stamina and his ability to play, like, play No. 61 as he's played play No. 18 or play 3 is very remarkable, unique I would say for his position. And that's a credit to him."
JULIO ON DECK: The Saints on Thursday will get their first look this season at Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who's third in the league in receiving yards, with 1,063. Jones has 68 catches and three touchdowns.
In two games against the Saints last year, Jones had one catch for 16 yards in a 45-32 victory by the Falcons in New Orleans, and seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in Atlanta's 38-32 home win.
Payton had high praise for Jones and also for his teammate, receiver Mohamed Sanu (48 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns).
"I think (Jones) is right at the top," Payton said. "I heard someone debating between he and (Antonio) Brown at Pittsburgh. They're two different type players. He's outstanding. His strength, his explosion, his catch radius – I've said this before, when you're sitting down on the sidelines and all of a sudden he splits out to your sideline and you look at him, it's amazing how quickly he moves. I think he loves playing. I think Sanu is someone that's probably not talked about enough, but he's another player that I think has helped that team tremendously. He's tough, he competes, he blocks at the point of attack, he'll catch balls inside and outside and I think he's got extremely strong hands in traffic."
SIMILAR PHILOSOPHY: Payton said that the Falcons (7-5) and Saints (9-3), in some ways, have taken a similar approach to building up their defenses. "I would say in the selection of players, yes. Identifying guys that you think fit what you want to do, yes. I think there are some differences in the types of defenses that we play, but just from the standpoint of bringing in younger players that fit a vision of what you're wanting to do, clearly they've done a great of that. We're trying to get to that point. We've begun to hit on some players that we think, hopefully, will play and play a long time here. I think (Falcons coach) Dan (Quinn) and his staff and those guys, their rise to the Super Bowl last year was built on a lot of good selections, a lot of good decisions in player evaluation and obviously, real good coaching."
HILL CLIMBING: Saints rookie quarterback Taysom Hill became somewhat of a sensation for Sunday's performance on special teams. After serving as the No. 3, inactive quarterback in the first 11 games, Hill was active against the Panthers and contributed two special team tackles, and nearly blocked a punt, in the 31-21 victory. Payton said that Hill will be difficult to deactivate after that kind of performance. "Each week we'll see where we're at with our numbers," Payton said. "But it's hard to take that off when you've got size and speed that can run and do what he did."