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

Saints getting healthier on defense

Short takes from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Friday news conference:

  1. Just because Rams running back Todd Gurley'snumbers are down – 591 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 187 carries in 10 games this year, after posting 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 229 carries in 13 games last year – doesn't mean he no longer is a game-breaker. "The challenge, when you're a real good back like he is, is the fronts and the defenses that you see that are designed to take away a lot of the runs," Payton said. "But he's explosive, he's got good vision, he runs with power, a good pad level, all the things you look for. He had some big runs last week (against Miami)."
  1. Defensively, the Saints appear to be getting a better feel for executing coordinator Dennis Allen'sschemes. After allowing 30.8 points in the first five games, the number has been lowered to 20.4 in the last five, with no opponent scoring more than 23 points. "We're healthier," Payton said. "(Defensive tackle) Sheldon(Rankins) is back, (linebacker Dannell) Ellerbeis back, (cornerback Delvin) Breauxhas come back – that matters. And I think you have a good game and you get some confidence, and parlay it into the next and the next. I think they have been playing well, so that's encouraging."
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