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Sean Payton: "James Laurinaitis brings leadership and grit"

Sean Payton was in Boca Raton, Florida Wednesday morning for the NFL Annual Meeting

Saints head coach Sean Payton's was interviewed this morning on NFL Network's NFL HQ. Below are quotes from the interview (provided by NFL PR):

On his contract extension:

"Probably for the better part of the last month and a half now Mickey [Loomis] and I have ironed this out and we're excited about it."

On the Saints looking to make some moves in the new season:

"Slowly though. What I mean by that is taking a close look at the areas we feel like we need help. There are some must positions for us defensively. Clearly we have to be better on that side of the ball. We were able to add a Coby Fleener for instance, a specific player that we felt fit and we had a crystal clear vision for. I think when you're able to do that, you're able to have some success with a player that maybe you've seen on tape from another team."

On the most needed adjustment for the team moving into the new season:

"I think we need to add more pieces immediately on defense. That's the first thing that comes to mind. I think our numbers in the red area, our numbers on third down were poor. When you look at third down defense, when you look at red zone defense, we went through some of those cutups not too long ago with the defensive staff. Not getting off the field when you're 3rd-and-14. The red zone defense was near the bottom of the league. There are so many of these games that come down to the final possession or the final drive or the two-minute drive, and all of those specific game situations we struggled with. So there is a lot that that tells me. Number one we have to bring in players that can help that side of the ball. And then number two, obviously there is a part of that on offense that you have to be better able to run the football when you need to and play a complementary game. When we're playing real well and teams in our league play real well, you see a complementary offense and defense play married to the kicking game."

On linebacker James Laurinaitis:

"He absolutely brings the leadership and the grit. The thing that's amazing with him, since the 09 draft he's played in every game. So you're getting a guy that is going to be available. Most importantly though, the vision for where we play him he's certainly a guy that's comfortable being the signal caller, being the guy that wears the communication headset. I think it's important for us defensively to become smarter this upcoming season and be a little bit more football savvy in regards to awareness as to what the situation is and I think that he provides all of those things."

On what the window is for Drew Brees:

"We don't look that far out. He and I'll talk when the season ends. I would say for me looking at him play this past year is he went through an oblique injury a year ago so the season prior to he missed some training camp time and it affected him. If you've ever had that oblique injury, there's not a lot you can do where all of a sudden you're not tugging on it. He came back and played at a very high level this year. So I don't see age when I look at him. We were having this discussion, when his family arrives and you see how his kids are grown, that's when you see age. I feel the same way for the most part with the peers down here you work with. But he's one that really takes care of his diet, his sleep, all of the attention to detail that he applies in-season he does in the offseason. So he's very, very driven there, routinely driven. I don't worry now or look now in regards to a long-term spot. We're in the business of developing young quarterbacks so we drafted Garrett Grayson, we've signed Luke McCown and we'll continue to do that. But with the way he played this past season and I just know his goals and his mindset as a competitor is that he feels definitely he's an asset right now and based on what we're watching he is."

On how the Saints get back to the top of their division:

"Divisions like ours are fairly simple and that doesn't mean easy. It's that game King of the Hill. Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans, all of us very quickly with a lot of urgency have to figure out a way to unseat Carolina. So you look at how do we match up versus their running game, how do we rush Cam [Newton] better, how do we attack their coverage scheme better, how do we account for Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis? So you play teams in the division twice, you get to know them very well and any team that's won the division, you get to know even better."

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