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

Figuring out how to defend Bucs receiver Mike Evans critical to Saints success

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

  1. Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evansis the type of player who presents a unique challenge. Namely, he's a big target (6 feet 5, 231 pounds) and is the go-to target for quarterback Jameis Winston, leading the team in receptions (a career high 76), yards (1,058) and receiving touchdowns (10). In his first two seasons, Evans had a combined 142 catches for 2,257 yards and 15 touchdowns, so the Saints know full well what he is capable of. "There are a couple of things that go into (defending Evans)," Payton said. "Are you playing safety help over the top with him? Are you trying to press him at the line, or give him off coverage? I think he does a good job locating those balls above his head, some of those jump balls. And there's kind of a confidence that you've seen in Year 2 between the quarterback and him, and you can see that significantly more than maybe you did a year ago."
  1. The recent personnel additions the Saints have made to help bolster special teams have had a dual affect in assisting the team. "If you look at our linebacker position, we're four deep in a game when usually you carry at least six or seven. So those guys have kind of filled those roles. With the injuries in some of the spots we've had, the depth is the big concern and it has probably hurt us in the kicking game. (Against the Lions) we were able to get the punt return game going (Tommylee Lewishad a 24-yard punt return)."
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