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John DeShazier: Takeaways from Coach Sean Payton's Monday teleconference

Payton talks Ingram, locker room and more

Saints players and coaches celebrate the division win over Tampa Bay.

Brief takes from New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's Monday afternoon teleconference:

  1. Running back Mark Ingramis 60 yards shy of becoming the Saints' first 1,000-yard rusher since Deuce McAllisterran for 1,057 yards in 2006. Ingram, the Saints' leading rusher in four of the last five seasons, is 25 yards short of topping his single-season career best of 964 rushing yards in 2014, and already has a career-high 1,230 yards from scrimmage. "He's run very physically," Payton said. "I can think of games – San Francisco, specifically, was a good bounce-back game for him. But even (Saturday) when we started the game against Tampa, you saw pad level, you saw aggression. And he's been healthy. You've seen it now and that's a credit to how he's worked and how he has rehabbed, also."
  1. The Saints possibly can finish out the season with three straight victories to even their record at 8-8. It would be their first three-game winning streak since Games 6-8 in 2015, their first non-losing record since 2013 (New Orleans finished the regular season 11-5 that year) and would help bolster the theory that the team has the right kind of "character" players in the locker room. The Saints' playoff hopes were slim prior to their 41-34 road victory over Arizona, and they'd been eliminated from playoff contention prior to Saturday's 31-24 victory over Tampa Bay in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. "We've got a good locker room," Payton said. "I like, from a work standpoint, how we prepare and how we get ready. I think that's been outstanding. We've got to, after this final regular-season game, look to make the changes we need to make to improve our team, our roster, in all areas. But I think from a standpoint of bringing in the right type of people, that's critical in today's game and I think we've been able to do that."
  1. How significant is the difference between 8-8 and 7-9? "I look more closely at the game itself, and winning is significant always. The final record still represents something that's not good enough, hadn't gotten us into the postseason and yet, (Sunday against Atlanta) is an opportunity to win another game."
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