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John DeShazier: Takeaways from Coach Sean Payton's Friday press conference

Payton says team is improving third-down execution

A couple of short takes from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's news conference Friday:

  1. After a slow start in terms of third-down conversion in the first two games (7 for 24), the Saints have found a groove in the last three (26 for 47); their 46.5 percent conversion rate is third best in the league. Kansas City allows a conversion rate of 43.1 percent. There are, of course, several factors that play into the Saints' improvement, among them a higher rate of production on first and second down, which leads to more favorable down-and-distance situations on third down. "I'd like to think that we're improving in our execution," Payton said. "And then certainly, when you play games when you're in the seven, 10 or 11-plus (yards to gain on third down), you're numbers aren't going to be as good. They go hand in hand. We spend a lot of time on it, hopefully that continues. I think it'll be an important statistic in this game, for both teams."
  1. Safety Kenny Vaccarosaid he played almost every defensive position except nosetackle against Carolina. That might not be an exaggeration. Payton said that Vaccaro's versatility is a key component to his effectiveness. "He's playing real consistent. He's a physical player, he has a real good idea of what each gameplan is, and I think he gives us the versatility you look for in a safety. He can play back, him closer to the ball we think is a strength of his, and he's a good tackler."
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