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Saints Continue Workweek

Payton provides updates on Bush, Sharper

Saints head coach Sean Payton met with the media following Thursday's two and a half hour practice. He gave an injury update, discussed the performance to date of the defense and also talked to about his reasoning for his alignment of the club's bye week schedulewise. Below is a transcript:

 

Opening Statement:

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"To first hit the injury report, tackle Jon Stinchcomb (knee) was limited today; Reggie Bush (fibula) was limited today; Chris Ivory (shoulder) was limited; Malcolm Jenkins (neck) was limited; Darren Sharper (hamstring) did not practice; Pierre Thomas (ankle) did not practice; Jeremy Shockey (rib) did not practice; and then Patrick Robinson (ankle) was limited. It's pretty much the same as yesterday with the change being Patrick getting work today."

Can you define 'did not practice'?

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"It's pretty simple. There are a certain amount of team drills, team work, and when we say a player did not practice it means he didn't participate in the 11-on-11 team drills. A player might go out and go through walkthrough and go through some individual drills and yet – all these guys would be a case of that as those guys all took part in the individual portions and some of the drill work but they didn't take part in the team."

How is Pierre Thomas running? Can he cut?

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"I think he's making progress. If he was at 100%, then he'd be getting team reps. But he's making progress and I think we've turned a corner a little bit in the last week-and-a-half I'd say. We'll just keep treating it. He's doing a lot of agility work during the course of practice with the trainers and I think he's starting to get his strength back."

What has Roman Harper been doing really well this year that we may not be making note of?

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"Number one, his tackling and the position that he's been in; a lot of times he ends up being the down safety, the support safety. He's rushed the passer at times when we've pressured with him real well. Overall though, you just look at all the aspects, whether it's in coverage, whether it's with a rush, or whether it's down in the run front just being real consistent. Overall, that's the one thing that we've seen from him this year."

Are there any plays that come to mind?

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"I don't know that there would be any one specific play to point to, but there are a number of plays in which he's fit the run properly or he's played the pass the correct way or been involved in a hurry. We ask him to do a lot and mentally he's on top of each game plan and is versatile enough to play in coverage and also support the run in an efficient manner. Those are the things that you can see week in and week out."

Has his coverage improved in particular?

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"He's done a real good job. Often times he's matched up on a tight end or sometimes on a receiver and he's handled those matchups well."

You're second in the NFL on third down conversions. How crucial is that?

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"Third down statistics are important in regards to just staying on the field. Defensively, when you can get the three and out, that affects field position and it affects snaps for your offense. Offensively when you can stay on the field, that's critical. It's one area that we've done a pretty good job with on third down. Because of that you have more snaps offensively. In weeks where we haven't been as efficient, you'll see the snap count drop, you'll see the rushing numbers drop, you'll see a number of things drop. Just as turnovers affect those plays, third down is an important number."

Seattle has only scored 15 points in the first quarter but then have really picked it up in the second, third and fourth. Is there anything you've seen on film to explain why they haven't started fast?

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"I don't know that there's anything specific in regards to that number. They're a team that has a lot of confidence in Matt (Hasselbeck). He's an experienced veteran who has played in a lot of big games and he's someone that gets rid of the ball on time. He has a quick release and he knows right where to go. Defensively, this is a team that has played very well on third down, whether you're looking at third-down conversions, whether you're looking at hurries, pressures – they rush the passer very well. When they can get you one-dimensional, they're very tough in their nickel defense."

Despite not creating the turnovers that they did last year, is this the best that your defense has played since you've been in New Orleans?

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"I think we're playing our best defense in that timeframe and I think the turnovers will come with the effort and the hustle and the energy that we're playing with. We're doing a good job. The first number you look at is scoring defense and that's the number one objective and then you go from there, whether it's passing defense, third down, red zone; those are all statistics that all are definitely improved. Like I said, as we just passed the mid-point of the season with seven games left, I think we're getting healthier there as well."

Does the help you have gotten from backups speak to the depth of your roster?

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"It's the reality of our game now. Each season you're going to get some injuries. We've had them, whether it's in the secondary, with (Scott) Shanle being down, we've had it at running back. The key is the other guys stepping up and playing. The case you bring up is true."

Pete Carroll talked about how you use Reggie Bush the right way and the way he wanted to use him at USC. Did the two of you ever talk or discuss Reggie when he was the coach at USC?

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"We never discussed it. I do know that after we selected him, we spent a lot of time looking at what he did well at USC and certain aspects, tried to do some similar things, but do some things in addition to what we saw. I think like any player, the vision and role you have for him needs to be clear and with each guy, whether it's a guy like Jimmy Graham, (Jeremy) Shockey, Devery (Henderson), you want to have a vision for what you think they do well and put them in those positions. That's we've tried to do with Reggie."

You said you talked to Andy Reid about how he handles bye weeks based on how successful his teams have been following a bye, being 12-0. What did you get from him?

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"A year ago we changed our schedule and we played some of our better football the week following against New York. This year's schedule was similar. More than anything else it was confirmation. That's a pretty impressive number when you look at 12 years in the league following a bye and they've been against good teams, but they've played well. More than anything else it was calling to make sure I wasn't missing anything and he's someone that's done this long enough and someone I have a lot of respect for. He does a great job there and has for a long period of time."

What did he tell you about what you were or weren't doing?

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"I think more than anything else, before we let everyone out of here for the full week, I wanted to make sure there wasn't anything that I was missing. He kind of just went through their schedule with the bye, bringing players in during that early portion of the week and getting them out of there for a full week. Monday is the bonus day that we've done. It's similar to what we did a year ago."

Do you guys self-scout and look at tendencies?

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"Yes, you can do that without the players there. We had time to begin Seattle work and then look at our own team."

So you didn't get a bye?

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"We all had time away and we just came in for a couple more days in regards to film study. Coaches were out of here Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

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