First injury report of week released Saints-Lions matchup

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WEDNESDAY INJURY REPORT

Did Not Practice
T Terron Armstead Knee/Quad)
RB Mark Ingram (Toe)
RB Daniel Lasco (Hamstring)

Limited Practice
G Senio Kelemete (Hip)
TE John Phillips (Ankle)
T Zach Strief (Knee)

DETROIT LIONS INJURY REPORT

Limited Practice
DE Ezekiel Ansah (Ankle)
S Don Carey (Hamstring)
WR Marvin Jones Jr. (Thigh)
LB DeAndre Levy (Knee)
RB Theo Riddick (Ankle)
LB Tahir Whitehead (Knee)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 11:51 AM

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

With a team like the Lions that have not had so many games decided until the fourth quarter, how do you apply your preparation to that characteristic?

“Specific to the preparation it would be the information. This morning I call you guys after what would be our first team meeting. We go through keys of what we think would be to win the game and then we outline the opponent. I think it’s important the players understand that this is a good team that has been in a lot of close games much like we have and they’re one of two teams int the history of the league that have come from behind in seven games and won and the last team being that Colts in ’09 that Jim (Caldwell) coached as well there. There’s a little bit of confidence that comes with that. You get the first one and the second one and you see that they’re close in a game that they are able to get it and they’ve been able to do it. You make your own team aware of the type of team you’re playing and then you prepare accordingly.”

Does familiarity with the Lions in having played them the last couple years help in preparation or is the team totally different offensively with Calvin Johnson no longer playing?

“Anytime you’re defending a great player like him, there’s a challenge unto itself. I think more specific to this team that we’re seeing, they’ve found that formula. They appear to have the right blend of veteran and young players, they play with energy. They have some injuries on defense and they have been able to overcome them, so I think it’s really more specific to this team. (Golden) Tate’s an experienced receiver. (Anquan) Boldin can help them situationally and has done a good job and they spread you out and we’re going to have to play well in space.”

In regards to the comebacks they’ve been able to make is there anything specific to Matthew Stafford’s play?

“You evaluate a quarterback often when you want to see how he plays when he’s behind. He’s had an outstanding season. His numbers are fantastic. I think he’s playing as well as he has in his career. He’s been able to win. He’s found different ways to win. Everyone’s involved. There’s a lot of different touches, not to one specific player. You see the tight ends involved. You see him getting it to his running backs. I think he’s playing awfully well. The other thing that’s concerning is when he gets outside of the pocket, because a lot of his big plays come then.”

If the game on Sunday’s a reminder of the offense’s potency. Besides Drew Brees, what would you credit for the consistency of that offense since 2006?

“There’s a lot of people, a lot of players. There’s certain disciplines we believe firmly in. We’ve been able to find the right type of guys throughout that time frame that come and they understand the role and they understand the system. There’s been some continuity from a system standpoint, a quarterback standpoint. There’s been a handful of offensive linemen that have been here now, when you look at Jahri (Evans) and you look at Zach (Strief playing here for such a long time). It’s the same way on the coaching staff. Pete Carmichael has been here that whole length of time. We’ve had some guys like Johnny Morton and Joe Lombardi’s return. I think it’s been a combination of a lot of people, of a lot of things.”

It seems like you guys were really aggressive against Los Angeles on Sunday on both sides of the ball. You talk about playing complementary football a lot, but is that approach a sign that you have higher confidence on both sides of the ball right now?

“I think to that game it was different. Early on, we struggled a little bit defensively and settled down some and settled in in the second half. Offensively after a series or so, we started having more consistency, so I think the game, you might want to see it unfold a certain way, but it can take on a direction of its own and I think we try to pay attention to that.”

With some of the moving parts you have had on the offensive line this year, how valuable has Senio Kelemete been?

“He’s been extremely (valuable). Over time here, last year he finished the season playing left tackle. He’s played guard here, he’s played center. He’s extremely smart and he’s very reliable and I think that he’s a fantastic teammate. He has the respect of his peers and I think he’s athletic. So, he can do some things that are unique to his skill set. His natural position would be guard or center, but he’s been able to go out in a pinch and play tackle. There’s a lot to be said for a player that has that versatility.”

We’re talking to Glover Quin later on a conference call. What do you think of him, despite the fact that he doesn’t have big numbers this year, he’s made a lot of game-changing plays for the Lions, including against this team two years ago. What do you think of him?

“He’s exceptionally smart I think. There’s something about a guy that knows where you’re going to be, what you’re doing. You can see it on film. He has great football makeup. He has vision. He understands formations and what they’re doing coveragewise. I think all-around when you’re watching their defense there are a number of guys that stand out. He’s clearly one of them and I think a real good football player. (He has) good ball skills, smart, tough. He’s got all the things that you look for at that position.”

How concerned are you about Brandin Cooks maybe showing some frustration with the direction of the offense?

“I’m not concerned. We’ve spent a lot of time. Cooks is a real good football player and we work extremely hard on these gameplans. It’s a little unusual we have a game where he’s not targeted. The first play of the game is supposed to be his play. We don’t get the right coverage look. We’ll keep working it and finding those opportunities for him to receive those touches. He’s a fantastic player and a great man and we have a great relationship. It’s hard when you do have a game with a lot of numbers like that and a guy like Brandin who works his tail off doesn’t have a target or a touch. That can happen. But I would say that’s rare. He’s been explosive this season. He’s certainly a primary target for us in what we do and I think that’s evident.”

Can that almost make it more difficult for other teams to prepare for you and allow you to have more balance, showing you can be productive even when it occurs on a day where he didn’t have a lot of opportunities or big numbers?

“Earlier we were talking about success. We’ve had a lot of real good football players here and I don’t think we’ve been in a position where they’re doubling such and such and it’s panic. Guys are going to get doubled. I don’t know specifically. It’s not as much getting doubled as you see a better corner travel. Last year we saw (Darius) Slay, he traveled with Cooks. Sometimes Cooks is going to draw some of those matchups. Sometimes he isn’t. It depends on the team. But I think it was more the way the game unfolded. Like I said, the first play of the game was actually a down the field shot play intended for Brandin. We received man to man coverage different from what we were hoping to receive. Things happen during a game, a progression takes you off a read high and you end up underneath. It happens. I wouldn’t have known Josh Hill was going to have that many catches in that game, but that’s the way it unfolded. Fortunately we had enough of them.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

Post-Practice Media Availability

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

You guys have played the Lions twice in the last two years, does this help from a preparation standpoint?

“Yeah, I would say there is some carry over in personnel and scheme, but each time you play them it’s that point in the season. I think there are always variables. The scheme might have changed slightly, obviously they might have a game plan for us just like we will have a game plan for them. Maybe from a personnel standpoint there’s some similarity, but I mean still a whole new game and kind of a whole new (team) from a timing standpoint within the season.”

Do you think this is a special week for Joe Lombardi?

“Joe’s pretty poised, pretty calm cool, so if it is then he’s not shown it. I think he’s as dedicated as ever all the time and (has shown the) same energy (and) enthusiasm regardless of the week. He does what he does, loves being here and loves being back here with this staff and with these players, with us. We love having him back and he is a huge part of what we do from a gameplan perspective and he brings a lot to us as a unit. I’m just glad he is back with us.”

Why can’t the emotion like last weekend be captured more often?

“I mean I guess it would be nice to score 49 every week. I guess we would set every record known to man and we’d probably win every game. I think it would be easy to say that for any good game that you play. Why can’t you do that every week? I mean there are so many variables throughout the course of a game and I mean I feel like we’ve got a system in place here and a process in place here that is conducive to going out on game day and playing our best and we’ve put together a lot of performances like that, a lot of them and we strive for consistency and we strive for great execution every time we go out there. There are sometimes that maybe the ball doesn’t bounce our way and we have to battle back. There are times where man we just didn’t play very well, just didn’t make the plays, but I feel like we have the ability through great execution to be a really good football team. A really good offense in both the run game and pass game, really in all facets.”

Do you feel like you must string a group of wins together since the window of the season is closing?

“It’s one game at a time. I mean broken record, old cliché it’s one game at a time it really is and these guys are playing really well right now, really well. Someone said a stat today, in every one of their games this year they’ve been behind at some point during the fourth quarter and they have won seven of them, that’s a pretty incredible stat. I think it’s a testament to the way those guys win games and the way they fought kind of all the way to the end, but they have been able to make some plays. They are playing with a lot of confidence right now. They have won a few in a row here, obviously coming off the thanksgiving win as well. We know they are playing for a lot, they lead their division. These games don’t get any easier and we’ve had some battles with these guys over the last two years so I expect it to be the same way.”

Knowing that how much of an emphasis is there to score early?

“Start fast, finish strong. I don’t think it’s ever out of reach. It wasn’t out of reach for us last year when they were up 28-3 at one point. I think both these offenses can be quick strike offenses, can score points and both these defenses can rally and make plays. I think the end of the day we are all going to have to make plays and I expect it to be pretty gritty game all the way around.”

Drew you are having one of your most efficient seasons ever, why do you think you’re being so efficient?

“I strive to be as consistent as I can possibly be. I want guys to know what they can expect out of me every day at practice, every game day and I try to get a little better as well as I go along. I feel like I’ve become smarter, wiser through experience and through lessons learned, but I work hard at my craft. The stats don’t always tell the story, there are certain areas where I’m continuing to try to improve, but I think all and all I feel good. I feel good about my preparation and my process and at the end of the day it’s really all I focus on.”

You’re defying conventional wisdom at 37 and Tom (Brady) is having a great year at 39; is this just something that we are going to see more of in the future?

“I think it’s very possible. It takes a great desire to play to this stage and beyond. It takes some of God’s blessings on your body just to be able to stay healthy when there are some things that are out of your control. It also takes great discipline, an extreme amount of discipline in regards to your preparation and everything mentally and then physically what you do to maintain your body and make it to where you can go out on Sundays and play at a high level. There is a lot of work that goes into that, I am not going to lie. I can think of many. A couple of years ago, I looked up all of the quarterbacks that played into their 40s. I think there were like 18 guys at the time. I just remember looking at all of those guys and all of their careers. I have a lot of admiration for those guys because that is hard to do, especially as I reach my late 30s. I know how my body feels waking up in the morning and I say, like alright, let’s pull it together and suck it up. It is not easy.”

Are you aware that Tom Brady is one win away from being number one on the all-time wins list?

“Yes, I am well aware of that. I know who are in the top 10 on that too. It is probably the most important stat in my opinion.”

Are you surprised that that is a record that he is about to achieve?

“No, there is no surprise. He has earned it. He will go down as certainly one of the best, if not the best for that reason. The guy is a winner. He is a proven winner. While he has been there with coach (Bill) Belichick and had that level of consistency, there have been a lot of players that have come through there while he has been there. It has been a very consistent result all the time. I am sure there are a lot of people in that building that deserve credit. None more so than him.”

Do you have a relationship with Matthew Stafford because of your background and both being from Texas?

“I know him and we will see each other maybe once or twice in the offseason at different things. It is always very cordial. I can’t say I know him that well. I have heard great things about him. I do respect, very much, the way that he plays. I would say that he has some of the best arm talent in the league – top three for sure. He can make some throws that most guys can’t make, or certainly couldn’t even attempt to make. He has that and also he has got some moxie and some savviness to him. He just has that playmaking ability in critical situations. I feel like he’s always had that. He has got that to him. Moxie is probably the best way to describe it.”

How much, if at all, have you noticed frustration from Brandin (Cooks) the other day during or after the game?

“No, listen, there is not a guy who works harder in here than Brandin Cooks, or expects more out of himself and wants to be a part of what we are doing and our success. He has been a big part of it. That was just one of those games where there were opportunities called for him and the coverage kind of rolled his way or whatever it was and the ball ended up going elsewhere. It was just one of those bad luck things for him personally, I guess, but obviously as a team, we were rolling. It kind of made me think of – you remember a couple of years ago (when we went) to Pittsburgh and Jimmy Graham does not get a target the whole game. It was one of our most efficient days on offense as well. There are some of those days when you are a focal point that there is a lot of attention given to you because the other team is going to say man, if there is one guy who is not going to beat us, let’s just not let Brandin Cooks beat us or let’s not let, at the time, Jimmy Graham beat us, or whoever it is. That just opens up opportunities for other people. I think Brandin (Cooks) recognizes that. We talked about it after the game. If we can go out and score 49 points, play like that and win every week, then I think everybody will be okay with it.”

Does that really speak to the evolution of the offense throughout the season?

“The statement it makes is that we can win games in a lot of different ways and we can win with a lot of different people on any given day. Just because Brandin Cooks didn’t catch a ball doesn’t mean that he didn’t have a huge role and responsibility in the game. There were plenty of times when he was drawing a lot of attention and that opened up a lot of opportunities for the other guys and allowed us to get big first downs and move the ball and get a big play. Whatever it might be, so there is a ton of value there. He (Brandin Cooks) recognizes that, he is a smart guy. Of course when we think how a game is going to unfold, we are trying to spread the ball around and give guys opportunity. Number one, because we want everyone to have their touches, but also a defense that is not able to key in on one guy is frustrating to the other side.”

Michael Thomas seems to get better and better every week.

“I feel like I have said every week, but he is a young player and he continues to get better and we continue to open up the play book to him. We game plan so much from week to week that as we are putting in the plays and it is giving other guys opportunities. Let’s broaden the scope of what he can do this week or maybe it is something a little different and we are going to continue to work at it and get better. What I love is when he has the opportunity to go up and make a play he is able to make that play. He attacks the ball, he is competitive and that’s what you love in a receiver.”

Comments on the all 50th team

“That’s cool. My wife and I looked at the list last night and it was neat. Obviously, a lot of guys that have come through here the last 10 or so years. Some of the greats we see in the hallway every day. That will be neat to get them all in the same place and let the fans honor them all. Obviously, there are some fans that have been in the stands since ’67 in Tulane Stadium. I think that will be a thrill for a lot of people.”

Are you going to threaten George Blanda’s record?

“One year at a time.”

Do you feel comfortable with the way Mark Ingram is playing?

“It speaks to his mental toughness and his mental character. To take something like that and turn it into something positive and a motivating factor and maybe a chip on your shoulder. Every time that dude touches the ball he’s angry and it is ferocious. You can feel it. That inspires the whole group, the offense, (and) the defense. We can see the way that guy’s running the football and (Tim) Hightower too. That 1-2 punch right there’s been pretty awesome. I think I have the best seat in the house. I hand it off and I watch them run. It is impressive to watch.”

Why do you think your completion percentage is so high this year?

“Completions are good, completions are good positive plays. Marty Schottenheimer always said you never go broke from taking a profit.  There are times where, within a framework of concept, you are looking downfield and if it is not there you’re checking it down. There are also times where you always want to know where that outlet is. At the end of the day, if the completion gets you two or three yards it’s better than having to take a sack or throwing the ball away and not getting anything. That’s the difference between third and five or third and seven/eight. That’s a big difference. Again, completions are good. Positive plays are good. Plus, I think there’s a flow and rhythm that goes with that as well.”

How often have you dealt with a players’ frustration over not getting the ball?

“I would say there are every week or every two weeks, whether I hear about it or not there is frustration on the part of somebody. But we are all professionals here and my message to these guys always are your opportunity will come and it does. We have proven that. I am not worried about any of these guys that we have. All of the guys here are the type of toughness and mental character and competitive mentality and I equate the frustration at time with the competitive nature. You would rather them be like that then the other way around.”

Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do you see anything different about Nick Fairley up here?

“I think he has 4.5 sacks or something like that. He’s playing extremely well. He’s always been a talented guy. He’s always been effective.”

Can you talk about the contributions Kerry Hyder has made and what he’s done to make himself in a solid NFL player?

“He’s one of those guys that last year he was playing a little different position for us on the interior of the defensive line and every week at practice when he was on the practice squad, he kept showing up. He would create problems for the guys that would try to block him. He was relentless in terms of his work ethic, so we just felt that end was probably the best fit for him because we didn’t know if he could get quite big enough to play inside consistently. We suggested he lose some weight, which he did. Most guys that are determined to do so can get it done. (He) transformed his body and he’s a very, very effective guy for us. He’s one of those guys that just has relentless pursuit and (is) very, very determined.”

Do you attribute for someone like that on the roster to being motivation and determination?

“I think it’s one of the things that makes a difference. Oftentimes you find guys that have an equivalent talent level, but it’s the guy that has the will, desire to work on his craft and give himself an edge. I think that’s oftentimes what will separate those guys from the pack.”

Sean Payton said he believes Matthew Stafford is playing the best he has in his career. How much do you agree with that assessment?

“I just know that he’s been improving consistently. Even before I came here and we (myself and my staff), he was playing well and had some notable years. I think he’s been real consistent in terms of his play and he’s looking to get better and that’s the key with him. He never settles for the level of proficiency that he’s at right now and he’s trying to find a way to get a little better”

Given the way he’s played in the fourth quarter, what does that say about his mental toughness? You should be able to compare since you have tutored some mentally tough guys like Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco.

“Not to use any comparisons because I think that’s unfair when you compare Peyton to someone or Joe to someone else, I’m making these statements in regards to Matthew. He’s extremely tough mentally. He also doesn’t flinch in situations, does not back down and is not afraid to go out and have the ball in his hands to make a difference in the ballgame. I think those are unusual (special) traits.”

On the subject of quarterbacks, Drew Brees has completed around 80% percent of his passes this year and has a shot at breaking his own NFL record? Do you see better blocking or receiving this year or do you attribute it to something else?

“I see outstanding play, excellent play as he’s always certainly been able to produce. He was 32-of-39 against us (Colts) in the Super Bowl and he’s still obviously performing great. Every single game he’s going to put numbers up. He’s going to play well. He’s as good as they come.”

You were a part of a long-running, potent offense in Indianapolis, do you see similarities of what has been done in New Orleans similarly?

“I think you can’t make comparisons in that regard. I can just tell you in watching the Saints and what they’ve done it’s incredible with the .combination of Sean (Payton) and Drew together. They’ve been prolific and they’ve done it with a number of different receiving corps and different backs. Year after year, after year, the proficiency is incredible. They do a great job.”

What have you seen from the Saints pass rush in recent weeks? It seems like they’ve found some consistency.

“They have people that can obviously rush the passer, I think everybody has seen the numbers that (Cameron) Jordan has put up, but also what (Nick) Fairley has as well. (Paul) Kruger can rush the passer. We worked with him in Baltimore. He certainly has ability and I also see that they are using (Dannell) Ellerbe (to rush the passer), he has three sacks. They are taking Ellerbe and moving him outside. We had Dannell in Baltimore. All those guys can rush the passer. They can create some problems for you. It’s a scheme that has answers for everything that you do, so they know how to put pressure on the quarterback”

What has Rafael Bush, a former Saint contributed to the defense?

“You actually have two, you have (Tyrunn) Walker as well. But nevertheless, he’s done a nice job for us. He’s smart, he’s tough and we’re glad we have him.”

You mentioned Dannell Ellerbe and he’s added a lot to the Saints defense. Could a return by DeAndre Levy be possible?

“We’ll see.”

How excited are you to see Nick Fairley or Darryl Tapp?

“It’s always good to see guys that were once on your team or that type of thing, but it’s also one of those things where you are out trying to win ballgames. There won’t be a whole lot of chit-chatting, but nevertheless both of those guys know that I wish them well.”

Detroit Lions Safety Glover Quin

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What do you think the key to your team’s success late in games this year can be attributed to?

“I think the biggest thing has been there was been so many of them and (we’re) making plays and finding ways to win. I think it’s hard to practice those for real unless you get them in the game when they really count and you have to make those plays in the game. Early in the season we didn’t make some of those plays and we lost some of those games. But having been in those situations over and over and over again and refocusing on how to make some of those plays offensively or defensively, your execution in those situations has to be at an all-time high and then once we made a couple plays, then our confidence grew a little bit. We’ve been in those situations in nearly every game we’ve played in this season. After 11 games, you win some you lose some. Fortunately for us, we’ve won more than we’ve lost.”

What is the most challenging thing about this Saints offense?

“Probably Drew Brees. He’s a big-time quarterback. He’s probably one of my favorites in the NFL actually, but he makes it all go and they have a running game with Mark Ingram and (Tim) Hightower and if you can’t stop the run game, it’s going to be a real long day for you. Last week they rushed for over 200 yards, so we definitely can’t allow for that to happen. With most teams, you want to make it one-dimensional, take away the run game and force it into the quarterback’s hands, make him beat you. This week they have a quarterback that can, but we still have to force it into his hands because if we allow them to run the ball and throw the ball, it’s going to be a real long day.”

Have you payed attention to what Nick Fairley’s done down here this season?

“Not particularly. I’m not a defensive lineman, so I don’t line up to watch the defensive linemen play or for teams. If I have watched the Saints, I’ll probably watch more of the secondary, watching Kenny (Vaccaro) play, Jairus (Byrd) and those guys. I haven’t watched Nick that much, but I remember seeing one game, I can’t remember I think it was a Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers where I saw him come off the ball and make a couple plays in the backfield. That’s Nick though. He’s an explosive guy, big time D-lineman, made a lot of plays here and a lot of plays in college as well. We know what Nick can do and I’m pretty sure the guys on the offensive line will be preparing and be ready for the challenge”

Drew Brees has a very high completion percentage. When you see the film, do you see that being reads or mechanics or do you see him getting a lot of help from the blocking units or receivers?

“I think when you look at a quarterback’s (completion) percentage, when it’s that high, I think there are a lot of things that go into it. For one, if you’re running the ball well, then you’re probably going to have a lot of wide open throws. So last weekend, even the whole season, they’ve been able to run the ball pretty well and so that leads to a bunch of open throws. When you get the ball out of your hand quickly, like Drew who gets the ball out of his hand very quickly, quick release, a lot of times the guys are going to be open underneath and things like that, but also the receivers have to catch the ball, the running backs have to catch the ball, the tight ends have to catch the ball and the o-line has to block for when they do decide to hold it and take a shot down the field. You need to have time to get it off and complete those passes. It’s a lot that goes into completion percentage, the coverage the defense is playing, but I’m pretty sure if you really look at it, I don’t know many guys who can have a high completion percentage when for one you can’t run the ball and for two, you’re just dropping back and trying to take shots down the field the whole game, because the d-line’s going to get there and the DBs in this league can cover enough. You can mix in quick screens. You can mix in things like that. When you’re running the ball well, you can mix in play action, mix in quick screens, you can mix in quick (outs) because they guys are so concentrated on stopping the run, you can mix in a max protect and take a shot down the field, then if the guys are catching the ball the completion percentage is probably going to be high.”

When you made a late pick against Brees in 2014, you were probably in robber, why is that such a tough coverage for quarterbacks to attack?

“I don’t know. I can’t say that it’s particularly hard. I just felt like that moment, what we did, was something different throughout the whole game and that one play, maybe we gave them a look that he hadn’t saw. He went to one of his go-to receivers, Marques Colston down the middle, he’s been doing it for yards, Marques Colston in key clutch situations to get key first downs. It just timed up to be a perfect call and a perfect execution in that moment, but I can’t particularly say that one coverage gives quarterbacks a lot of problems. I’m pretty sure they see robber coverage and single high and low all the time, it’s just if you can disguise it and show it in a different way where maybe they don’t pick up who the dropper is. It’s a little different when you have a safety that’s dropping in as opposed to maybe a linebacker. That’s what we did on that play.”

Looking at snap counts, is it fair to say that you guys have played a lot of three-safety looks this year?

“Yes, we have. Our coaches do a great job of putting guys in position to make plays. When you can do a good job of stopping the run, teams throw the ball a lot. We want to have our best cover guys, best playmakers on the field. We do a run a lot of three-safety stuff. Hopefully this game can be the same way. If we can stop the run and get into a passing game, I’m pretty sure that would be what it is. It’s out there on film. People scout us and get the snap counts. Even you can figure that out. We run a lot of three-safety.”

The reason I ask is that the Saints play in that. Is that a trend or do you think it’s personnel-based team to team?

“I think if you look at the way the league is going, but I’m pretty sure if you look at it, a lot of teams probably run a lot of three-safety, because it’s such a passing league and nowadays you can have safeties that can hold up in the run game for as much that teams try to run it but also give you better coverage underneath as a pass dropper than maybe a linebacker. Some linebackers are very good against the run but not very good against the pass. If you have a safety in there, you might lose a little in the run game with size and that type of stuff but teams don’t run the ball as much in those situations and so you can have a safety in there that understands the run fits, he can hold up in the run game and it will serve you better in pass coverage. That’s why I think across the league you will see a lot of teams that are running three-safety packages, especially in this down passing situations which the league is going to almost majority pass situations. You see teams in 11 personnel almost the whole game. There’s a little 21, some 12 personnel. That’s what you’re seeing, so it’s not just us, everybody.”

What’s been the key to Kerry Hyder’s season so far

“I think he’s hungry. He came into the season on fire. The last preseason game I think he had three sacks and then he took that momentum right in Week One and had two sacks on opening day against Andrew Luck and then Ziggy (Ansah) went out Week Two and Kerry was the pass rusher for three or four weeks, how many weeks Ziggy was out. He’s made plays. He made plays coming off the edge. He’s a very athletic guy, strong, quick and so when you can rush the passer and be explosive, quick, have moves and different things like that, you get opportunities to get to the quarterback. Once Ziggy came back, then obviously now you can’t double team him or slide coverage his way because you have the other monster coming off the other side in Ziggy, so it’s just a good situation. He’s taken advantage of it and made a lot of big plays for us”

The Saints run game was struggling early in the season, what has changed?

“I don’t know (on tape). I don’t know. I think with the run game sometimes you have to stick with it. Sometimes it’s like that for us. We’ve run the ball well some games early in the season and then some games we didn’t run the ball well. So I think it’s like that for everybody. You go through lulls. You just stick with it. You can’t abandon it and you stick with it and put an emphasis on it in practice and games. Sometimes you bust runs out of there. Anytime you have two big running backs like Mark (Ingram) and Tim (Hightower), those guys will eventually bust some runs. You just have to stick with it and not give up on it. I think that’s what they’ve done. They’ve had success recently, especially last week. Mark came back and Tim, they both busted up some big runs against L.A. Like you see, when you can’t stop the run and you let them put up over 200 yards rushing, it’s going to be really hard to stop Drew (Brees).”

When you look at the Saints and study them on film, are you surprised they are 5-6 or when you look at mistakes and injuries are they where they should be?

“I can’t really say. I haven’t really studied their whole game as far as their defense, plays they’re giving up, their special teams, and so I remember seeing the Denver game and how they lost that one. They played a close game, probably should have won that one. So I haven’t really seen a lot of their total games. I’m just watching their offense and looking at the numbers they’re tops in a lot of the categories, so offensively they’ve played really well. Some games they’ve turned the ball over, some games they’ve protected it, but I don’t know why they’ve lost six game. I don’t know. But the thing I know is it’s Drew Brees. It’s the New Orleans Saints. They’re in the Superdome. They’re going to be fired up and we have to match the intensity.”

What have you seen from Matthew Stafford this year that you think is helping him perform at a higher level than before?

“I just think it’s confidence and maturity in the offense. I think last year we saw some signs of it at the end of the season with Jim Bob (Cooter) and how he started to move the ball around and pick things up. Then he’s having a full offseason and being older, more mature, understanding the system, getting into training camp and having some continuity, I think that definitely helps. At any position when you can lock into an offense, key into the details and dive deep down into it, the more comfortable you get the more you do it and the better you’re probably going to play.”

Can you discuss how Rafael Bush has played for you guys this year?

“He’s done well. He’s an extremely good athlete, good ball skills, strong tackler, very, very athletic. He’s definitely come in and made some big plays for us, had two big interceptions, one to the house, some big tackles. He gives us some versatility. He does a lot of things well for us and is a very, very good pickup for us.”

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Justin Macione

Justin Macione

Communications Manager. New Orleans Saints

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