Notes from Monday's media session with the Saints players.
AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE:The Saints and Vikings game on Thursday night highlights two of the NFL's most aggressive defenses from last season. Both squads were in the top eight of the league in take-aways a year ago.
QB Drew Breessaid he understands the intensity that Thursday's NFL regular season opener will bring and is ready to face Minnesota's stringent defense.
"If you play defense in this league, you love to take a shot at the quarterback, a legal clean shot, albeit, you hit him as hard as you can," said Brees. "I would expect nothing less from those guys when they try to get a legal, clean shot on me to hit me and hit me hard."
DE Alex Brown spent the past eight seasons with Chicago Bears, an NFC North squad along with Vikings. The first-year Saint said New Orleans will look to find different ways to contain Minnesota All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.
"They will come in here and try to run the ball," said Brown. "We have to be able to stop the run. That is going to be first and foremost. They have a really good defense too but we have to do our part."
DE Will Smith,who led the team with 13 sacks last season, said the Saints defensive speed is their most intimidating trait.
"I think the intimidation part of the way we play is that play hard and fast to the ball," said Smith. "Instead having two guys hit you, you have 10 guys hit you it makes a difference. We do nothing intentionally to hurt anybody, but it just makes a difference when multiple people hit you."
SHARPER REACTS TO PUP:Pro Bowl S Darren Sharperwas placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Saturday. The 14-year veteran said he is disappointed that he wont be able to start the season but emphasized that the ultimate goal is to be healthy for the end of the season.
"It is frustrating, because I want to play and with it being the first game there are so many things that make you want to play," said Sharper. "Now, I have to focus on coming back strong and looking to help this team when it gets to the important time and making a push for the playoffs."
Sharper said he expects to be healthy enough to play before the six-week PUP window but will do everything he can to help the defense while he is sidelined.
"They changed my contract now to player/coach or safety consultant however you want to put it," joked Sharper. "I am definitely going to be helping the guys and coaching the guys. During the game and during the practice week I am definitely going to give my knowledge and help them out."
Captains Announced: Head coach Sean Payton announced that S Pierson Prioleau will serve as the Saints special team's captain this season. Prioleau will join offensive captains Brees and OT Jon Stinchcomb and defensive captains: LB Jonathan Vilma and Smith.
DANIEL HONORED BY NO. 2 SPOT:QB Chase Danielfound out Saturday that he would be the No. 2 quarterback heading into regular season. The second-year gunslinger said the first thing he did was call his parents to tell them the good news.
"The hard work has paid off but now the real work begins," said Daniel. "I put a lot of time and effort into earning this spot but now I have to prove it."
DEFENSIVE CAPTAIN'S TAKE:Saints defensive captain Vilma said he his pleased with the defensive unit's progress. The two-time Pro Bowler said despite a few new faces to the fold, he expects the team's intensity level to stay the same from a year ago.
"I think we have a good nucleolus right now and I think we will definitely be ready," said Vilma. "I am excited to see how we are going to play. We have a couple new faces but our guys understand what Gregg Williams wants and we hope to put it out there."
JENKINS' DEBUT:Second-year defensive back Malcolm Jenkinswill see his first regular season action at safety on Thursday after converting from cornerback in the offseason. The Ohio State alum said he is excited that his first "safety test" comes against a three-time MVP in Vikings QB Brett Favre.
"I am excited and it gives me a great chance to see exactly where I am at," said Jenkins. "I have had my warm up games with the preseason and I am looking forward to getting my first real test.
LB DEPTH:Despite the injuries to LBs Jonathan Casillas and Clint Ingram,the Saints backers still believe they have a strong core at the position.
"I don't think we have a lack of depth because you look at guys like Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Marvin MitchellandAnthony Waters," said Vilma.* *"These are guys that have played for us and player well. Jo-Lonn stepped in for us last year and did a great job. Marvin has been in and out of games in different packages and Anthony can help us in a number of ways."
LB Scott Shanlesaid he isn't sure how the coaching staff will line up the linebackers. However, the eight-year veteran out of Nebraska believes the team's defensive scheme allows all the linebackers to fill different needs. "You definitely get comfortable doing one thing," said Shanle. "But in this defense, you do so many different things that there really isn't a time where you do the same thing over and over again. I think during the preseason, people showed some concerned with how we played a little bit. The thing about preseason is that you stay so vanilla and so basic. That is not who we are on defense. Anybody who watched us last year, knows we have multiple looks and come at you in a lot of different directions."