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Payton Gives First Injury Report

Saints HC talks about the 49ers defense and the Saints running game.


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Opening Statement:

"Here's what we have for today's injury report.  TE John Gilmore (toe) did not practice, WR Lance Moore (hamstring) did not practice, S Roman Harper (ankle) did not practice, WR Robert Meachem (knee) was full, LB Jon Vilma (knee) was limited, and lastly LB Jonathan Casillas (knee) was limited.  Most of the work was on third down and nickel."

Was the Roman Harper injury from the game or practice?

"It was from the game.  We just kept him off it today and we'll see where he's at tomorrow."

Do you think the 3-4 defense's weakness is opening up run possibilities?

"They have two guys in a 3-4.  You have a mirror linebacker look with two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers.  I think the better question really is the deployment of the back end.  Is there a safety down in that front or is there a safety back in that front if we're talking about just running the football?   They do a good job with that front.  They just disguise a couple of looks and I'm not talking about any pressure looks, but where that safety supports I think is pretty important.  It's a strong front and it's one of the reasons they've been successful against the run."

Why don't most football teams use a 3-4 defense?

"I think most teams do.  I'm not talking about the teams that sparingly use it, but I'm talking about most teams that deploy it as their base defense in our league I think would be split maybe.  It depends on the team.  There are some teams that have been in it for a long time, the Pittsburgh's and New England's of the world.  I think it's a matter of how you're set up to draft and how you're set up to put together your defense whether it's out of an even front or the odd look.  I think it just depends on the team and really the taste of the coaches and the personnel department in which direction they head.  I think there are quite a few teams, this year we haven't played as many that are in a 34 front as a base, but you still see it.  If you took the playoff teams left, you'd have Green Bay playing some of it and you'd have New England and Baltimore and Houston and San Francisco, so it's more than you think."

Can you talk about Carlos Rogers?

"I think he's found a real good home there, played well and has real good ball skills.  I think he's a guy that is playing very well in a good defense."

Has Carlos Rogers changed things for the 49ers as far as the skills he brings them?

"He has very good ball skills, he can run, and I think he's been a very good piece for their defense."

How does their run defense affect how you use some short passes and dump-offs?

"I think a lot of it is depending on the coverage they're playing zone or man.  They'll play both.  They'll play some quarters, quarter-halves and some man looks.  Trying to get pre-snap and post-snap keys to what their coverage intentions are is important and recognizing what you're seeing.  They do a good job of playing both."

How confident are you in your running game going up against their defense?

"I think for both teams, defensively and offensively, trying to win the run game battle is an important element to this game.  We're seeing what we feel is a very good team rushing the football as well as defending the run.  The challenge for us both defensively and offensively is matching that and having success on the early downs to avoid the third-and-long situations.  On the other side of the ball, I think defending the run will be important in this game."

Can you talk about Aldon Smith?

"He's been real good.  When they have been able to get people into a one-dimensional game, you really see the fits that he causes tackles.  He has speed, he has size, he has real good length and has really been a guy that has helped them in their pass rush and a guy we have to account for."

How much do you like taking your number one offense against their number one defense?

"I think it's more of a competitive nature of what we do and it's exciting.  There are a lot of good matchups.  When you get into this round of the playoffs, all these teams are good.  They're successful and they've played well all year.  I think we're all looking forward to the next challenge and that's the focal point of the week is the challenge in front of you.  I think that's one of the great things about sports."

How can you use the fact that your team has more playoff experience to your advantage?
"Someone asked me the same question yesterday and I'll answer it the same way.  In a playoff game, it's three hours roughly and 12 possessions give or take.  It comes down to the execution and avoiding the big mistakes.  I think we see teams each week with experience win and not win.  I don't put a lot of value in that."

Can you talk about Patrick Willis?
"He's an exceptional player that can run sideline to sideline.  He's a very good tackler, smart and loves playing football.  He's one of the best linebackers in our game.  He's missed some games with injuries, but he's a challenge."

Can you talk about your team's offensive line?
"Each one is a little different.  I think in Jahri (Evans') case, he's come in right away as a starter and played at a real high level.  He's been real consistent and steady.  Carl (Nicks) each year has gotten better and better.  Both of those players give us power inside. They're guys that can play in the running game  and in the passing game very well.  Jermon Bushrod is one of the young guys that came in in the '09 season and all of a sudden was in the starting lineup and played well in '09.  Last year was the same way and this year he's in the Pro Bowl.  It's really a credit to their work and their production."

Can you talk about Zach Strief and Brian de la Puente?
"This is Zach's first year as a full-time starter.  He's played a lot prior to this season.  Brian has come in and transitioned well in that center role.  The importance of what you want to do both run and pass starts with the offensive line and I think you're going to see two very good offensive lines in this game."

What are the challenges of going into the first playoff game as a new head coach?
"I don't see a lot.  I think we try to as quickly as you can get into your normal schedule and I think it's the same thing Jim (Schwartz) will do.  I think the challenges lie really much earlier than postseason.  They lie in building a program and setting up the offseason and all those areas."

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