The New Orleans Saints began their final week of the preseason with an afternoon practice at the team's indoor facility Monday afternoon. The black and gold practiced for two hours. The Saints will return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon before traveling to Nashville for their preseason finale against the Titans.
MORE FAMILIAR DEFENSE:Entering the second regular season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams', a number of key defensive players discussed how they are more comfortable with the defensive mind's complex system.
DE Will Smith, who led the team in sacks with 13 last season, said he is anxious to see what the first-team defensive squad will show in a full game when they open the NFL regular season against the Vikings on Sept. 9.
"I think we have gotten better every week on the run stop," said Smith. "I think we have shown that on the practice field and in games."
LB Scott Shanlewas third on the team in tackles last season with 106. The eighth-year linebacker said this year the defense is working on "fine tuning" every thing.
"Last year, preseason was more crucial as far as getting the reps in," said Shanle. "This year – we understand exactly where we need to be and what needs to get done in this system. We have grown so much and every team stays vanilla in the preseason and we have so many good things defensively that we unveil in the regular season."
CLANCY RETURNS:The Saints re-signed 11th year veteran DT Kendrick Clancyon Monday. Clancy said he was thrilled to be back in New Orleans and was close to retirement before the Saints called him.
"It's cool just to be back out here," Clancy said. "Even if I don't make the team, just to have the opportunity to be back out here was good."
PUP UPDATE:Payton gave an update on the two remaining Saints players on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list - S Darren Sharperand LB Clint Ingram - after Monday's practice.
"The time is really the final roster cutdown - you can't extend that," said Payton. "There would be no reason to do anything until it comes time until that spot when you really have to make decisions, so with both those players, it's a lot of rehab and it's a constant balance of doing a little more and backing off the next day and then trying to make that progress."
NO. 2 QB CONTROVERSY?:QBs Chase Daniel and Patrick Ramsey have each made strong cases to serve as the team's backup quarterback.
In his most significant playing time as a Saint, Daniel completed 15 of 21 attempts for 182 yards and three touchdowns in the Saints 38-20 victory over the Texans.* *
Payton said there are many variables that will determine the number of quarterbacks they decide to keep on the final 53-man roster.
WR Marques Colston, who is entering his fifth NFL season all with the Saints, said he enjoys plays with all the Saints quarterbacks and is intrigued to see what the coaches decide.* *
"Chase has been playing well since he got here and Patrick is a proven veteran," said Colston. "It is going to be interesting to see what happens but it is strictly a coaching staff and front office decision."