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Saints Departing For the Great Northwest

Club leaves for Seattle Thursday

The New Orleans Saints held a two hour and 15 minute practice at the facility in Metairie, La. today and then will depart this evening for Seattle. Following practice head coach Sean Payton met with the media, gave an injury update, discussed preparations for Seattle's announced starting QB Matt Hasselbeck and also talked about the trip out west:

Opening Statement:

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"Today's post-practice injury report: Anthony Waters (ankle) was full; Alex Brown (shoulder) was full; Marques Colston (knee) was full; David Thomas (knee) was full; Jeremy Shockey (groin) was full; Anthony Hargrove (knee) did not practice; Jimmy Graham (ankle) did not practice; Malcolm Jenkins (knee) did not practice and Danny Clark (hamstring) did not practice. Most of the emphasis was red zone with some goal-line and short-yardage."

What have you said to the team to avoid them being overconfident as an 11-point favorite on the road?

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"It starts with the guys in the locker room and the understanding of our league. This subject came up earlier in the year and I don't know that any of us pay much attention to the point spreads anymore. They understand that we have to play our best football, especially when you get into the postseason. Certainly we appreciate and respect any team we're playing, so going on the road into a very tough environment in the postseason is clearly something that has their attention and their focus and it really becomes more about your workweek and your preparation – handling the noise; handling the challenges of playing a road game, regardless of who the opponent is. So I think more than anything else, studying the tape and focusing on what we have to do has been the main emphasis and I think they understand that. I think the players are smart enough to understand that anytime you're in the postseason, those games are challenges regardless of who and where you're playing but specifically when you're playing a team coming off a big win, which they had at their stadium which is one of the hardest places to play in our league."

Pete Carroll has announced that Matt Hasselbeck will start at quarterback for Seattle. What challenges does he present as opposed to if Charlie Whitehurst were starting?

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"Number one, he has a lot of experience and a lot of experience in playoff games. He's a guy that played well against us the last time and that's not surprising that he's going to start. He's someone that has a very quick release; he knows their offense very well and this type of game and this type of playoff atmosphere he's very familiar with where Charlie probably doesn't have that same experience. I would begin with some of those things."

Were the last two days challenging not knowing who was going to be at quarterback for them?

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"Not really. Only because the focus for us defensively really was on the Seahawk offense and the various plays – be it running game or pass patterns – that we have to defend. I think that a lot of that – regardless of who is starting – remains the same and I think the expectation all along was that we would see Matt."

How much do you guys put Jabari Greer on a specific receiver or do you line your cornerbacks up by left or right all the time?

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"That's a good question. Starting out, Jabari plays to our left defensively and Tracy (Porter) our right, and yet there are coverage calls that will change that. But from a starting point, depending on gameplan, you go in with the ability to play right and left and the ability to switch that and play more of a man assignment. Each week we've done that. In some weeks there may be no switch and then other weeks, you might have assignments that differ from that. But starting out, if you were to look at us, you would look at Jabari playing on the left and Tracy on the right and then there could be changes."

Will all four of the guys who did not practice today fly out with the team?

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"Our plan is yes."

You said that you had confidence in Garrett Hartley in the beginning of the year when he had some troubles. Do you take a personal satisfaction now in seeing how successful he has been over the past few months?

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"Ultimately deep down you have to trust what you see and trust what you've seen in big spots. When you look at a player like Garrett specifically and you see the performances that he had not only last season but into the postseason, those are things that separate a guy. To kick not only the way he did in the Championship Game but in the Super Bowl, and then for us to see on a daily basis his talent and his abilities makes that easier to come out because deep down inside every one of us knew that this was our kicker. I've said before that there have been other occasions here where you're wanting to see a player do well and yet there is still some uncertainty but I think with him there's a lot of certainty. To his credit, he has responded and quietly has come up big for us for the majority of this season. Like anything else, it's really paying attention to the evaluation and what you're seeing and what you have seen in game situations and postseason situations, but also on a day-to-day basis."

As far as the overtime changes go, how much preparation have you as a staff done and are the players aware of the changes?

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"It's just one simple change, really. That's the easiest way to describe it. The simple change is that with a first-possession field goal, the game is not over yet. So the first thing that throughout the league teams would look at would be to be a little less conservative with that first possession in setting up that field goal or potential touchdown. The touchdown ends the game; the field goal means that the opponent will have one opportunity. Now when you're on the other side of that, after a field goal has been kicked, you're in a four-down mode; not three downs, obviously, because you're going to use all four downs. A game could end on a sack or a game could end on a fumble. I think that in a nutshell would be the easiest way to explain it. You pay attention to all the other factors that go into a game but I think you'll see – if it comes up this year – you'll see most teams take the ball still. I know we will."

Do you feel fortunate to have David Thomas and Jeremy Shockey back healthy at a time when Jimmy Graham is hurt?

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"Yes. In the case of both David and Jeremy, their week has gone well and the news with Jimmy has been good in that a day-and-a-half, he's feeling a lot better than earlier in the week where there certainly was a lot more doubt. But you just pay attention to the treatment schedules and make sure as best you can that the players are off of their feet and doing all the things that they need to do in the rehab process and get ready to go."

Has there been similar good news in regards to Malcolm Jenkins?

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"Very much so. The key is paying attention to the swelling, but he's doing well; he's doing very well."

So Jenkins' injury ended up not being anything structural?

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A lot has been made out of the logistics of this game with the cross-country trip and the early start on Saturday. How much does that affect you or do you not let it?

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"We think we travel pretty well; we've gotten used to some oddball schedules in the prior four-and-a-half years. I think more than anything the work routine was fairly simple this week in regards to the schedule; we just had to monitor how much we were out on the field, having played the Monday night game a week-and-a-half ago and then Sunday. So I think that setting the schedule early on, communicating it to the players, and then paying attention to how much time they're on the field, how much time is walkthrough and meetings. Then when we get out there we'll have a chance leaving tonight where I think we'll get acclimated pretty quickly to the time change. We've traveled there before to play; we've traveled west to play. There's a certain routine that our players and everyone involved get used to and we've kind of stuck with that and it's been good to us."

What time are you leaving?

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"Wheels up at 6:00."

Will you do anything tomorrow?

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"We might have a walkthrough, but it would be closed. Either at the stadium or if there's a lot of rain we could move that to an indoor facility at the University of Washington."

Would you almost want to get out in the rain to prepare?

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"Yes, but the purpose of tomorrow's workout is really to get out and get the guys moving around a little bit. A lot of times people think we're going to have a full practice and it's really just to get accustomed to the environment. We'll probably be over at the stadium."

Did you consider taking your team outside this week for practice?

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"You have two issues; you have the surface and then you have the outdoor weather. Our plan was to go outdoors yesterday and the way the fields were with the heavy rain on the grass, I just didn't want anyone pulling anything so we stayed inside."

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