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Quotes from Sean Payton's Wednesday Conference Call

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

*Has anything changed much since the last time that you played Tampa Bay on November 5? *"There's a gap of far more football than maybe the unique schedule that maybe excited between the Atlanta games. So, there's things you see differently. There's guys that are playing more that weren't. There's a certain philosophy that they adhere to defensively and offensively, but there's a lot more football (that's been played since the last meeting between the teams.)"

*It seems like every week in this division you guys are playing exceptionally talented linebackers. Would you say it is more so this year? *"I wouldn't say that. It just varies team to team. We're playing good linebackers, but I think that's the case more often than not when you're getting ready to play a team. But I wouldn't look at this year as a uniquely different year or above what we've seen."

*When you look at Jameis Winston the last two weeks, he looks to be on a hot streak now. What differences do you see in these last two weeks as opposed to earlier in the season? *"I think a couple things. They have a little bit of balance. He has had time to throw and you give him some time, he is going to get in a rhythm and get hot. That combined with some balance in the running game has really helped him and (is) really an ally for every quarterback."

*Mike Thomas was obviously pretty good as a rookie, but how have you seen him evolve in year two? *"Some of the details and specifics of what we do in the passing game, adjustments that take place, where he's located, just within the framework of our system. All of that's expanded and I think there's a confidence level of what he's playing with that comes from that, whether it's on third down or in the red area."

How has Sheldon Rankins been when he has played defensive end?"Good. He's played outside and he's played inside. He'll give us some help at the end position, but he's also come inside. It's a credit to him. With (Alex) Okafor's injury, he's provided us with some flexibility and that's helped us."

*With him this year, how much of an example has he been of a defensive lineman whose impact has gone beyond the stats? *"I think that would be a good example. He's a team-first guy. He thinks of that, regardless of what he has to do. He puts the team first. For (what) you guys have been around him (can see), he's a tremendous teammate."

You brought up Ryan Ramczyk after the game? What has stood out about him this year?"I would say his consistency. I think one of the things you see from Ryan is that he's steady week to week (and) he's smart. It's very unusual for a rookie to play over there on the left side and play on the right side, but I'd say there's a maturity level to him and a calmness to him that feels more like a third or fourth year pro."

*As a guy who's gone up against most of the better NFL defensive tackles around the league, where would you think Sheldon Rankins is? *"I think the sky is the limit for somebody like that. He's coming into his own and I think a lot of guys on defense are, and it's showing up. I think he has the potential to be right up there with the best."

Have you seen Drew Brees adapt his approach to the kind of changing nature in the offense this year?"From a preparation standpoint, he's always looking at things that give him an edge. He looks to monitor his throws on Wednesday, build up then towards the latter part of the week. I think that certainly the running game has certainly given us more teeth when it comes to the play action. There's times where you're understanding how a game's unfolding and how you want to play it offensively."

*People on the outside probably look at his yardage totals not being as prolific, but that has nothing to do with his production correct? *"Absolutely not. We're not in the business of playing fantasy football. We really aren't. We're in the business of winning. If that upsets all the people that have a player on our offense or our defense that plays fantasy games in the world, that's tough. Our job is too win and that's probably one of the first criteria that you are graded at as a quarterback and he knows that."

*Did you have a chance to know Drew's grandfather at all? *"I didn't know him. I think I met him. I knew how close Drew and he had been and it wasn't too long ago (that we were) discussing his grandfather."

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