<span style=""> <span style="">Opening Statement:</span> In an injury report update for today, Sedrick Ellis (knee), did not practice. Jonathan Goodwin (ankle), did not practice. Lance Moore (ankle), did not practice. Jabari Greer (groin), did not practice. Marques Colston (flu) did not practice. Zach Strief (flu) did not practice. Darren Sharper (knee) did not practice. (Scott) Fujita (calf), limited. Garrett Hartley (ankle) was full. Marvin Mitchell (foot) full. We signed Earl Heyman to the practice squad and he took DeMario Pressley's practice squad spot from last week as Pressley moved up to the active roster. It was all first and second down, base offense and defense.
Q: Are the flu cases swine related?
Payton :"Right now, the way I understand it with both of those players, it's just a common flu. I think we'll have both of them back tomorrow.
Q: Are you taking any additional precautions?
Payton: "We've talked to guys about making sure they're doing a good job with all the things that (Head Athletic Trainer) Scottie (Patton) and his crew preach about to keep it from spreading. These are the first two players that have it.
Q: Can you discuss Darren Sharper's knee injury?
Payton: "We just listed it as a knee. We'll see where Darren is tomorrow. Jabari Greer, I'm encouraged about. We'll see where he is tomorrow and then (Jonathan) Goodwin the same way. Sedrick Ellis is making real good progress. He's a wait and see for this week as well."
Q: Did all of these happen in the games?
Payton: "The game-related injuries would be Goodwin's ankle, Greer with the groin and Sharper's knee. That would be it. Those are the only three from the game. You have the two players with the flu and the guys that we've been working on."
Q: Have you had your team try to get vaccinated for the flu?
Payton: "We had that already, the Monday a few weeks back we had vaccinations for the normal flu."
Q: Can you discuss if the scoring disparity in the fourth quarter was a point of emphasis in the off-season?
Payton: "I think we're playing better defense and running the ball better. I also think (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Dan (Dalrymple) and his crew have done a real good job with the off-season program and I think, by and large, we're in pretty good shape. I've been encouraged with our effort in the fourth quarter in some of these games that have come down to the last 15 minutes, but I think it gets back to our ability to execute as the game goes on. That's been encouraging."
Q: Can you talk about the season Will Smith is having and how much does it have to do with the shape he's in?
Payton: "He's healthy in his defense, different than a year ago when he was playing with a sports hernia. He's healthy, he's in real good shape and he's having an excellent year. He's been consistent each week. He's a player that can play with speed but also has real good power and those are two good attributes to have at the end position when you can convert your speed rushes into power and have a pretty good one-two punch there. He's playing pretty well."
Q: Has the delay in the Starcaps decision helped both you and Minnesota?
Payton: "When you have your starters playing it has to help you. It's really how you'd look at it. Those guys being in the lineup week in and week out, certainly helps us because they're guys that are key contributors."
Q: What does it mean to have a guy like Robert Meachem step up when a guy like Marques Colston struggles a little?
Payton: "I'm encouraged with how Robert's playing. We have to continue to find ways to get him the football. Week in and week out, he's a guy that has great speed, he's powerful and he's playing with more and more confidence. The challenge each week is finding opportunities for him. In the second half last week there were some big plays he made certainly and it was good to see."
Q: Other than protecting the ball, is there anything else you'd like to see your offense doing better right now?
Payton: "I think this. I'm somewhat concerned with the penalties that in the last three or four weeks have come up. In Miami it was the false starts and then we had a holding the other night. I just think we can play better or more efficiently than we've been playing. You point to the turnovers, that's one aspect to it, just consistency. I think we can be better."
Q: Can you talk about Steven Jackson?
Payton: "He's a guy that we had the good fortune of coaching in the Pro Bowl a few years ago. He's a back that runs with power. He has great speed. He's physical. He's one of the great backs in the league and we've seen a few weeks in a row with a few good running backs. This guy would be right up there. He's dangerous in the passing game. He plays a lot of snaps. He's not a guy you just have to handle on first and second down. He'll take a checkdown thirty yards and he's certainly a guy that's someone you have to account for on every single play. He's physical and he's got speed and he's got real good vision and balance."
Q: Can you discuss how Anthony Hargrove has handled success and highlights?
Payton: "He had a real good game last week statistically and yet there are a number of things he can do better. Overall, I think he's getting more snaps because of Sedrick's (Ellis) injury. We'll see this week where Sedrick is. I'm somewhat optimistic or guarded a little bit that we might have him back, but Anthony's doing a good job. He just has to work at being more consistent and those are things he's working on each day."
Q: Off the field is he doing a good job?
Payton: "He's doing very well and certainly we're proud of where he's come from. He more than anyone would tell you that it's something he works on daily."
Q: Did you miss Sedrick Ellis in the middle looking back at the tape or was the one long run by DeAngelo Williams an aberration?
Payton: "I thought a couple things. You say other than that, but that run means something. I thought we settled in and played the run better after the first quarter. It's a team that we played some really good rushing teams if you look at it statistically, if you look at Miami, Atlanta and Carolina, all three of those teams run the football very well and this is a team that does. Whenever you're missing a starter, you have to fill in. I said a week ago the reality of our game is each week that there's someone else on this (injury) list or someone else that has to get ready to play and so, we just keep working on it. The big concern you have with a short week like a week ago is how you're going to fit the run, how you're going to block and tackle when you're out of the pads for a full week in practice. I thought we played better as the game wore on in that aspect."
Q: It was said on Sunday that because of your record every team will have a star next to the Saints and will want to knock them off. Do you agree?
Payton: "I think that when teams prepare to play you, you certainly maybe garner more respect than other opponent. I think that part of that is understanding what it's like to play when you're having a good season. You're going to get a challenge each week regardless of who you're playing. We're playing St. Louis at home coming off a bye week right now. That's a 62 percent winner in our league, home off a bye. We went down to Miami and played them at home off a bye and so, this game is going to present a lot of challenges for us. It think it's a team that's well-coached and this is a talented team that we're going to have to play better than we did a week ago on the road and playing a team like this. I think when you are playing good football, you get your opponent's best shot and they understand what they have to do to win and what they have to do to get ready to play. That's pretty common."
Q: Is that a stat from this year or overall?
Payton: "When you look at the last three years, teams coming off a bye playing at home, they're winning more games than they're losing. We have to be ready. We have a normal week schedule this week. We had pads on today. We'll do it again tomorrow and get ready to play a better game than we played."
Q: Are there any lessons you can draw from your last meeting with the Rams when you were on a four game win streak and they were winless?
Payton: "I think it's the lesson that's existed as long as this league's existed. There's not a lot of difference in teams that are well above .500 or below .500 with their record. If you're not ready to play a game, you can get beat and you can get beat handily. In that game, we got beat handily. We didn't just get beat. Obviously it's a whole different set of circumstances because their team's different. Our team's different, but I think that lesson has existed in all of sports for a long time."
Q: Is that bye stat from the three previous seasons?
Payton: "In the past three seasons, because we do numbers and research. The reason I bring it up is because it's obviously it's been something we haven't done well ourselves, play after a bye. We had a chance to play New York coming off a bye after the Jet game. It gives you an opportunity to focus more on your workweek. It gives you an opportunity to get healthy. It gives you an opportunity and more time to prepare. The focal point for us this week is improving, trying to eliminate the things that hurt us in last week's game even though we won. There were a number of things that we got to clean up."
Q: When the Rams featured "The Greatest Show on Turf" did you marvel at what they were doing at that time?
Payton: "I think as someone that was coaching on another team while that team was having success, they were playing good defense as well. I think typically as an assistant or even as a head coach now you try to pay attention to or study the teams that are doing good things. It's not uncommon during the workweek to look at film outside of the opponent we're playing. Oftentimes, we're looking and trying to look at films of teams we're seeing do some good things on offense or defense or the kicking game. Certainly during the time frame, I think it was a team that a lot of people in our league studied. There were a lot of weapons on that team that started with Marshall Faulk, the quarterback, but again, it's hard to draw the comparisons. It's different. I think we're built differently. I think both defenses were doing a good job of turning it over. Certainly we're doing a good job in that aspect right now."
Q: Is it flattering when people compare you to them?
Payton: "Yes, hopefully that's a comparison that can come when the season's over with and not during the season. We're doing a lot of things that we have to correct offensively. I said that after the game Sunday and I'm telling you now. We have a lot of room to improve right now."