A few quick takes from the Thursday morning teleconference of New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton:
- Linebacker Stephone Anthony's path to increased playing time, perhaps, is shortening. "Just the consistency, and I think he's going to get more snaps as we progress through this season," Payton said. "I think the key is just the awareness. He runs, he can hit, he's eager to please. He's going to get snaps and playing time, but I think the key for him is that consistency that we're looking for on an every-down basis. You're constantly looking at, 'How do we get this guy going better? What does he do well, and let's ask him to do that.' Our thoughts and feelings on Steph haven't changed. I still see this guy as someone that does a ton of things that we like."
- High marks to receiver Willie Snead IV for his intelligence. "I would describe him as very smart, a player that's savvy, that understands what he's trying to do within the framework of a scheme," Payton said. "Often times, you can ask a player, 'Draw up the rest of the pattern, not just what you have to do.' With a marker in his hand, he would probably be one of the higher graded players on offense that would be able to do that. 'This is what (Brandin) Cooks is doing over here, this is what Mike (Thomas) is doing, this is what I'm doing, this is what the back does.' You'd be surprised sometimes how players learn just what they do, and you're always as a coach trying to teach the whole picture and then how it applies. Clearly, he's someone that knows all the roles."
- Tight end Josh Hill could be one of the Saints returning from injury to play against Carolina. Hill practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and hasn't played since the season opener, but offers the Saints an element at tight end that they haven't had since he was injured – though, Payton also noted, Coby Fleener has become more comfortable in the offense and with his role. "(Hill) is an experienced, savvy tight end. He's a guy that understands what we're doing. He gives you that ability to block and to get into routes, he's a guy that will play in the special teams when he's healthy. He does a lot of things well."
- There appears to be encouragement on the status of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who has been sidelined all season by an injured quadriceps. Ellerbe did not practice Wednesday after having some limited work in previous weeks. "I'm anxious to see what happens today," Payton said. "We're kind of pushing it and pushing it, he's been real diligent."