Quick takes from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees'news conference Tuesday afternoon:
- The Saints aren't the same team as they were Oct. 16, when they beat the Panthers 41-38 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Brees said that's a good thing. Including that game, New Orleans is 3-2 in its last five. "I think we've come a long way," he said. "We've won some big games since then, we've continued to improve. I think we've created our identity a little bit, solidified some things about ourselves offensively and defensively and been really able to focus on what is going to be a part of our DNA moving forward."
- Carolina's defense, Brees said, also has gotten better. The Saints' 41 points are the second-most the Panthers have allowed this season; they've surrendered a total of 50 in their three games since. Brees passed for 465 yards and four touchdowns against Carolina in the first meeting. "We had a good day against them that first time around. They're a very, very good defense, from their front, to their linebacker corps – which I think is probably the best in the league – to the secondary. They've got guys that fly around and make plays, they thrive on giving you a lot of different looks at times and having a good pressure package, trying to create turnovers. That's something they've been very good at in the past. For us, the script and everything is still very much the same in regards to needing just to execute, execute to as close perfection as we can both in the run game and the pass game."
- In consecutive weeks, Brees has thrown a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, to Michael Thomasagainst San Francisco and to Brandin Cooksagainst Denver. Each was an acrobatic catch in which Brees gave his receiver a chance to make a play; Thomas' juggling catch gave the Saints a two-score lead, widening the gap from 31-23 to 38-23, and Cooks' leaping pluck between two defenders tied the score a 23-23, and capped a surgical drive that put the Saints in position to win. "I've got a lot of confidence in those guys," Brees said. "Those are things that we work on, those are things that we talk about and they know I've got confidence in them. Nothing shows it more than giving them that opportunity in a game."