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Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen talks about Buccaneers matchup

Allen discusses loss of safety Kenny Vaccaro

Photos from the New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. Photos by Michael. C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Friday, December 9, 2016

How would you say the energy level this past week was?

"I thought it was pretty good. I think our guys had a lot of focus and that really has not been a challenge for us all year long. Our guys have come to work every day ready to try and get better and I feel the same way about this week."

What kind of challenge does Mike Evans present?

"Look, he's having an outstanding season. I think Sean's (Payton) kind of alluded to it with you guys already throughout the week. The quarterback has a lot of confidence and throws it to him in a lot of contested situations and he has gone up and made a lot of big plays for him. Obviously that is something that you face every week having different challenges from different players and understanding how to try and take them out of the game. I don't know that a guy of that talent; it's hard to just say you're going to totally eliminate that guy, but we have to try to not let him be a major factor in the game and hopefully we've done some things gameplan wise that will help us do that."

What is the challenge of losing a player like Kenny Vaccaro right now?

"I'd say first of all that's obviously something that we knew had a potential to happen at any point in time. We've kind of had a contingency plan in place and we're ready to go out and execute that contingency plan. Obviously when you lose a guy of his caliber it's tough and hard on your defense. It's hard on the football team, but yet it's no different than dealing with injuries throughout the season. These things happen and you have to be prepared for when they do."

How has Stephone Anthony handled this year?

"I think Steph has done a good job this year. He hasn't had an opportunity on the field to get a lot of playing time defensively, but yet he's been in all the meetings, all the practices and has prepared himself in the right way and I think he's prepared himself if he gets the opportunity to go out here and have a chance to play and perform."

Are you seeing progress from Stephone Anthony on the issues you mentioned earlier this year?

"Absolutely I am and look that is not something that is uncommon for a young player. We have been fortunate in that we've had some other guys that were probably a little bit further along as far as just having a good feel for the game and had not had to put the stress on Steph to have to go out there and be the signal-caller and those types of things. Sometimes it's a good thing to be able to sit back watch and learn and that's one way that you can really improve."

Does taking away a guy like Kenny (Vaccaro) possibly impact some of the three-safety packages you guys use?

"Certainly, any time you lose a player of that caliber it affects how you go about game-planning. That is something that as we went throughout this week and over the last few weeks, it is something that we have had to keep in the back of our mind because you never knew when this was going to occur. It is certainly something that we have had to pay attention to over the last few weeks once we recognized that these reports were out."

What have you seen from (Dannell) Ellerbe this year and did you know that he could rush off of the edge like that?

"I think what happened was we knew he was an athletic player that had speed and agility. We knew he had some good coverage ability on (running) backs and tight ends. We probably didn't know the extent to which he could rush but yet I think when you have guys that have that type of explosiveness, I think there are certain things that you can do with them in the rush game. I think as we have allowed him to rush the passer a little bit more, we have kind of gained a little bit better knowledge of exactly what he can do to help us in the pass rush game."

How critical is it to have a guy like Roman Harper around? He is there helping out Vonn Bell, as well as Jairus Byrd.

"Well, sure, I think veteran experience helps you in any situation, having those guys around, especially guys that haven't had to or don't need to have all of the reps, that can go in and still perform at a top level. That has been a good thing with having Roman (Harper) around, knowing that he understands the system. He has been in, not exactly this system, but basically this system for a lot of years. Having him available to us has been a benefit."

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