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Payton Holds Court with Media on Thursday


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Opening Statement:

"I'll go through today's practice and injury participation chart. These players did not practice: K Garrett Hartley (right hip), WR Marques Colston (right shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (right calf), and DT Tom Johnson (left calf). S Roman Harper (right ankle) was limited and WR Lance Moore (groin) was limited. Shaun Rogers was out of practice with a family-related excuse. We sat Porter and Johnson with both their calves and we'll see where they're at tomorrow. Both of them had tightness this morning and pain when they're walking so we'll see where they're at when we go tomorrow."

Was Tracy Porter's injury suffered in practice or in the game?

"I think it's something that came in practice and it wasn't really significant initially and we just have to see. Tom's been battling the calf, and in Tracy's case, I just want to give these guys a day to see where we're at with rest."

We haven't seen Tom Johnson play that much recently.  Has he done enough in the short period of time with training camp to earn playing time?

"Yes, there's enough in training camp and enough we've seen. We think he's closer than further away in regards to getting back on the field. It's one of those injuries though that if you hurry it back then you can get set back with it so we have to be cautious."

It seemed like Devery Henderson's production dropped off a little last year.  Did you challenge him more this year to play a bigger role and how important was it to have that big game against Green Bay?

"It was significant and we've seen him play well going back as far as 2009 and the Super Bowl. I don't know specifically but I think most of our players feel like in the offseason when they evaluate where they're at and this season was a little different, but we do studies and have chances to point out the things in the evaluation process with all our players. But he did play well and he's been practicing well and he's been healthy all during training camp. I think all those things combined have helped really get him off to the good start he had on Thursday night."

Was it that Devery wasn't fully healthy last year?

"No it's just with those guys, if you took Devery specifically when he's been productive he's been 100% and he's off to a good start."

Do you put more emphasis on this game after the loss in week one considering the past two seasons have been so successful and with the networks overanalyzing the loss?

"I think you're right in regards to the last five or six years with the week to week analysis of how a team's playing. I think our guys are mature enough and they understand those are some of the challenges we deal with outside this building. That being said, when we started the week our focal point was putting three good practices together, mentally and physically getting rested and getting into our normal routine now that we're on a Sunday schedule and getting as much film study done and making sure we're doing all the little things in regards to our preparation. I think they understand that formula and all of us are driven by that routine. I think mostly that's where the focus and energy have been."

Do you think this is going to be an emotional game with the Bears taking into account Brian Urlacher's situation and the Bears rallying around him?

"Again, that would be something that we would have no control over. Our focus is opening up at home in front of our fans and playing well at home and making the improvements from last week. I think we really spend a lot of time trying to focus on the things that we have control over. We control how well we practice on Wednesday and Thursday, we control tomorrow's practice and the meetings and making sure that we point out all the specific things that we feel like it takes to win this game. The other stuff we can't control and we certainly recognize the challenge we have with this team we're playing. This is a team that won their division a year ago. It's a team that played in the NFC Championship game. It's a team that has been very successful during Lovie (Smith's) tenure and has great tradition. We understand the challenge of playing this team. This team has won their last four away games inside in domes. They travel well and generally when teams travel well they play good defense and they're able to run the football well and that's the case with Chicago."

How much do you lean on Olin Kreutz's history with the Chicago Bears and what he can help you with?

"I think more than anything you see all the designs by scheme and any help from an ex-player seem to be more on personnel, the strengths and weaknesses of players as opposed to what they do. He would have better insight when it comes to the evaluations of certain players, what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, but in regards to the football aspect of it he would only confirm what you already see on film."

How is the Bears history as a defense different for you than facing a defense like last week against the Packers?

"If we're trying to look at the differences between Green Bay's defense and Chicago's defense, I think Green Bay plays and is very comfortable playing a lot in their nickel defense packages. They're probably more of a man team and that's something that they spend their time on. They can get into their 34 front so those are a couple of major differences from the Chicago Bears who play primarily out of a 4-3 front. They do get into nickel. Typically it's a substituted defense based on your substitution and I would say that their predominant coverage would be zone. Both are effective defenses. Both finished highly ranked a year ago. Both had a lot to do with why their teams ended up playing in that NFC Championship game. Philosophically, their styles are different and both have been effective for each team."

How has Gregg Williams been after last week's game leading up to this week's game?

"I think no different than any other week. Certainly all of us when you come off a tough loss you look at the things that we need to improve on and what we need to do to get better. All of us recognize each week how games can change, the type of game we're in. We have a great deal of respect for Green Bay's ability on offense as well as defense. That type of game unfolded and that was the game we played. That being said, like all of us, his focus I'm sure are on the things we have to clean up and the things we can improve on and that started last Friday the day after the game with film review and this time we've had to practice and Monday we had an additional day and getting into this workweek."

With the type of schedule your team is playing this early in the season with going on the road, coming back for two games and then on the road again for four games, are there any logistical challenges with that?

"I think when the schedule usually comes out, and I'm not going to speak for any of the other coaches, but we look at travel and then coming off of a Monday game, the next game. We just look at time changes and this year's schedule is really time friendly in that there are no West Coast trips. We're either playing Central or Eastern time zones. We do have a number of primetime games. I wouldn't have offhand been able to say, ' hey I know we have a three game road trip coming up but…' You look at the time changes more. You look at the travel after time changes games and that type us game but probably not as much as a three game road trip. Initially you see it and we've traveled well and we've played well on the road and at home and we understand we're going to have to play well when we do go on the road. Typically when there is a three game stretch like that you're probably going to get a home stretch along the line. We have two coming up at home. We really don't get that far out and we do get caught in this small bubble world of just this week. That's really the truth and that's okay. I think we're better served that way."

Can you remember starting a season with three tough games to open the season?

"I can't recall looking at any beginning schedule. I think this schedule came out and we certainly looked at the beginning part of the schedule and recognized we were going to play in the kickoff game and then come home against a real good Chicago Bears team and then you go past that. One thing we understand is there's really no control over the schedule. The other thing you realize is when the schedule comes out and you begin to look at games, there are going to be some opponents in there that are going to eb much better than how a lot of people view them when the schedule came out and there are going to be some opponents that may not be playing as well and it really gets down to the focus of your own team in that week."

I'm sure Drew Brees got hit more than you wanted him to last week.  What's the checklist schematically that the offensive line has to go through this week?

"You start with personnel. You start with a guy like (Julius) Peppers and you want to make sure that you understand where he's at. Typically he lines up to our left and the defense's right, and yet he'll come over to the other side and play snaps on our right. When you have a pass rusher like him, and we've seen him just because he's coming from Carolina, you start with making sure you have an awareness of where he is at all times. I think you look at your launch points and making sure you have some change up protections so that you're not just sitting in one protection. I think the importance of first and second down is critical against this team. If you're efficient on those early downs then you can help yourself and maybe help take the stress off the third and longer situations. Those would be checklists that we all have offensively as you prepare to play a team like this and then you begin to put the plan together with your personnel."

Can you share some thoughts on Matt Forte?

"He's had a great start to his career.  Certainly he's recognized as one of the better running backs in our league.  The thing that strikes you with the players is he's not just a runner.  He's very talented as a receiver.  He has very good instincts and football awareness.  He was someone that, just because of his local ties and the workouts and playing at Tulane and then coming here for the pro day workout, we probably had more not contact with but more just time at task with the evaluation with him because he was right here in our back yard.  He's adjusted very well to the pro game and he's very durable.  I think that he's a big part of what they do offensively and for good reason."

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