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"A couple of notes in regards to the injury report, Jonathan Goodwin (ankle) did not practice;Lance Moore (ankle) did not practice; Jabari Greer (groin) did not practice; Darren Sharper (knee) was limited; David Thomas (knee) did not practice; Reggie Bush (knee) did not practice; Tracy Porter (knee) did not practice; Sedrick Ellis (knee) was limited. We signed cornerback Chris McAlister and waived quarterback Chase Daniel."
What do you foresee McAlister's role being?
"A lot of it will be based on the health of a couple of guys in front of him. But he's a veteran player that understands defense and is someone that we think can come in and help us. We worked him out yesterday and we signed him this morning."
How encouraging is it to have Sedrick Ellis back on the field?
"Anytime you're able to get a starter back - a guy that has been a good player for you at the three-technique and at the nose - it certainly helps. At the same time, we're still repping the other guys through in the rotation. Today he felt better and that was encouraging."
In Reggie's case, were you just resting the knee?
"Yes. In the game, a couple of these guys got nicked up. In his case, we backed off of it today and held him and held David Thomas for that reason."
Is punt return an area you're looking to improve?
"It's an area we have talked about and obviously it's an area we need to improve on. We had a decent return last week with a holding call that brought it back, but we're playing a real good team this week in special teams. They have a returner that is first in a lot of categories and when you look at it, that's an area that we have to do a good job with and emphasize. Those are field position, hidden yardage statistics that will be important in this game."
Why Chris McAlister and not some other players who were available?
"We had gone through our pro personnel reports and our grades, and he worked out yesterday and did a good job. A lot of it is based on how we grade and how we stack players that are available."
Did he come in with many other players to work out?
"It was he and another player. He did a good job."
Is there a chance he could help you out at safety or would it just be at cornerback?
"That's a good question. We're looking at him now and certainly he's a guy that has experience in the secondary and his role right now would be as a corner."
Was there any thought of moving Usama Young back to cornerback to help out?
"He's a guy that can do both, but nothing specific right now."
Was the signing also based on how Randall Gay played on Sunday?
"No. It was based on the injury to Tracy Porter."
How did Randall Gay grade out on Sunday?
"He graded out better than you would have thought. The one was a Cover-zero look on third-and-long; it was a full-blitz look and the quarterback had a half-second longer than you would like to throw it and the receiver did a good job. That's a tough coverage for a corner to be in. The next play was really a play above his head. But we have a lot of confidence in Randall Gay. Those were two good plays by St. Louis."
Is it good to be facing a rookie quarterback this week?
"We spend most of our time just on the game plan and getting ourselves ready to have a good week of practice and prepare. He's a guy that has a big arm. We've seen some other young quarterbacks this year. He has given them a spark. When you look at the tape and the way they played against Miami a week ago and their win against Green Bay, I think the players around him have responded and he's playing with confidence. Certainly we understand the strengths and weaknesses of when you play a younger player, but that being said, he's a guy that's elusive, can scramble to run and has a big arm. Especially after a couple of weeks now, we'll have a challenge."
Do you feel like you're getting Tampa Bay at the wrong time? Are they a team you would've liked to have played earlier in the year?
"You get the schedule and you play it. Certainly they're playing well right now. St. Louis was playing better and we caught them after a bye. Again, the focus for us starts with ourselves. Certainly we have to be mindful of the type of offense and defense and return game we're seeing and prepare accordingly on the film study, but they're playing better."
Was Tampa's more of a substantial rebuilding project than you'll normally see in the league?
"I don't know. I think you could make a comparison to a few other clubs that would be similar and there would be some others that wouldn't be as significant. They had a roster that they felt like they were going to move some players and begin to move on and start developing younger guys. Whenever there's a change like that at the top, you see a lot of different changes that go along with it. I don't think it's very uncommon in our league."
Do you see a completely different team on film than the Bucs from years past?
"There are a lot of differences and there are some similarities. They run well on defense. They're playing with confidence on defense. The return game is outstanding. You see some changes offensively with certainly a new coordinator and a little bit of new personnel, but it's a line that has been together for a while. The good thing is that you have a good portion of the season of film to be thorough and study and look at and get the nuances of what they're doing differently in all three areas."
Players have said recently that they seem to be getting opponents' "A-game" every week now. Do you feel like there's a bull's-eye on your back now?
"When you're playing good football, I think there certainly is a respect level from the opponent you play. But that's part of the challenge of winning each week in this league. You hope that you create a program and a team that is in that situation more often than the other."
Does the diverse attack that you have on offense help to neutralize the playmakers they might have in their defense?
"The one thing that you see on film is that these guys have good ball skills. Ronde Barber, looking at a veteran who is a smart player, Tenard Jackson, Sabby Piscitelli, Aqib Talib - all these guys catch the ball well. So it really forces you to be good with your location, your exactness in the routes in what you're trying to do. And if you're off a little bit, these guys contest throws very well. You can see that on film; they're athletic and they do a good job of defending the pass."
Talib has had some off-field issues. To what degree is the Saints' success due to not having to deal with players and off-field issues this year?
"I can't speak on behalf of a player for Tampa. We try to focus on improving and focus on getting guys that are able to do the right thing. We try to provide that structure. But he's an extremely talented player and he's having a good season."
Would you consider trading a seventh-round pick for David Thomas a steal?
"I think when you acquire a player, you're hopeful and you have a vision for the player and it isn't until three or four years down the road that you can put a grade or determine if it was a good acquisition or not. Certainly you hope to have more of those that fit what you're looking for and less that end up not being that and you understand that it's not an exact science. He has obviously filled a role for us and with the injury to Heath Evans, his role to some degree has expanded and we've been fortunate that way."
Were you surprised that you were able to get him that cheap though?
"It's all in just finding the right match with another team that was interested in a trade. Bill (Belichick) and those guys have done a great job of acquiring picks and drafting. Where one team might have depth and another team might have a need, generally there's a chance to begin discussions of acquiring a player. I don't think it was anything unusual."
Based on the injuries that you have on defense, how concerned are you with your defense being able to hold up until you get everyone back?
"I think that the key is preparing the guys during the week. I've said before that you're not going to go through a season where all 22 guys that start the season are going to finish and play every game that way. Already at this point we've had a number of guys step in that weren't opening day starters and I think that's fairly common. You could just go on and on with the players; if you started on offense, you'd look at Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief and Kyle Eckel, who is a fullback that has played more and Darnell Dinkins' role has expanded. We've had some receivers who have filled in with Lance Moore's injury. Defensively you can go through the numbers there with the DeMario Pressleys and the guys in the secondary. I think it's the nature of a long year. When you play 16 regular season and four preseason games, that's a lot of football and I think that you're always in the process - we're always in the process - of developing all of our players; not just the starters. It's a challenge each week and that's what makes it interesting. And that's why you have to play each week and understand that there are changes happening with your opponent as well; guys are getting healthy, guys have been injured and you just hope to be on the lighter end of the injury note than the heavier end."
Based on what's going on in your secondary, do you think that teams will try to attack you through the air more?
"I don't know. We've had injuries in the front as well. How they approach us, I wouldn't know. You try to prepare for each opponent. When you're thin at a position or when there's a new corner on the field, certainly those guys understand that they'll get tested. We'd do the same thing on offense."
In regards to Chris McAlister, do you get him ready to play a game or do you get him ready for the rest of the season?
"We're getting him ready to play a game."
What has made you confident that your secondary will be able to handle this test of its depth?
"I think we're deeper from a health standpoint in the secondary. We have a number of guys with playing experience and some young guys like Malcolm Jenkins who got some more experience last week. We're at a point where we're not early in the year now. We're heading into the 10th game and the 11th week. Whoever we line up out there in the base and in the nickel will have had a lot of practice snaps and a lot of work this week in preparation for this game. I think they understand the scheme well. It's different from a year ago. And I think that their play is often tied to the play of the front and their ability to hurry a quarterback and get pressure on a quarterback. I think it all goes together."
Tampa has reportedly been working some on the Wildcat formation. How surprised would you be to see them line up in that formation?
"There's nothing really that surprises you each week. You prepare for your calls and adjustments and you get ready for things that take place during a game that you may not have seen. Each week there's a twist that you see; whether it's on offense or on defense and you just have to be prepared to adjust."
From the New Orleans Saints official website
Q: How much of the recent turnovers can be attributed to an aggressive mentality on offense?
A: "We've been able to overcome them, but that's really in large part because our defense has gotten quite a few, as well and then offensively, the drives we're not turning it over we're going out and getting points. It's not a good habit to get into. We are aggressive. There's being aggressive and there's being reckless and reckless is not what we want to be. I don't think we are. We just need to continue to make an emphasis on taking care of the football, because it is without a doubt the biggest statistic in football. If we keep going at the pace we're going then it will get us beat at some point, not once, but again and again. We need to fix the problem. I'm confident we will because we're making it a big emphasis. We're doing things to combat it. The first five games of the season we were very good in that regard. It's really been just the last four games. We know how to do it. It's just a matter off getting back to the fundamentals and that type of thing."
Q: It has been said before that turnovers on both sides come in bushels. Is the unit in a possible funk where you are turning it over in bushels right now?
A: "I think sometimes that happens. It will just kind of happen in spurts, just like a baseball player that hits a slump. You kind of hit a slump for a few games where you're 0-for-something. It could be similar to turning it over a few too many times before you kind of make the adjustments, do whatever you have to do to change it and get it on the right track and you kind of get on that roll of a couple of games where you're not turning it over. You're doing a great job of taking care of it. At times it comes in spurts."
Q: Are there specific drills you possibly do to combat them?
A: "Ball security drills. It's the way you practice too, just making an emphasis of the defense trying to take it away from our guys offensively. We're making sure it's tucked away and know that guys are coming to get it just like they would in a game, definitely just conscious when you're talking about fundamentals, how you're carrying the football, how I'm holding the football in the pocket and just being good with it when I'm getting pressure, all those things, all those little things."
Q: Are you guys getting different looks the last four games as opposed to the first five?
A: "Well, no. I think everything we've seen the last four weeks is pretty standard as far as nothing similar to what we saw in the first five games. Really the Jets were the only team that was very different from the rest in the schemes and the things they did, but really everybody else, as far as the turnovers go, I think that's probably what you're getting at. It's not what the defenses are doing to us necessarily; it's just the fact that we've had a little bit of lapse in concentration in regards to that."
Q: Whom do you credit for leading the NFL in Pro Bowl voting right now?
A: "I'd probably say (credit) the Saints fans. If they're as passionate and diehard about that as they are in the way they scream at the games and the way that they travel and support us on the road and the way that they are at the airport for us after we get home from road games then I'm sure they're the same way about the voting, going online and just hitting enter, enter, enter, which is a good thing that you have fans like that."
Q: Do you believe in motivational tactics and have any examples?
A: "This is one of the things that I think is one of Sean's (Payton) great strengths. He has many great strengths, the ability to motivate guys in ways that is either humorous, like he might just make a comment to you that will make everyone else around you laugh and will make you even laugh and then you kind of walk away and say I think he was taking a jab at me. I think he was challenging me, which gets some response out of you. I think he does a great job of knowing what motivates different guys and everybody's a little different. Some guys you might yell at, i.e. poor Billy Miller to get the best out of them sometimes and then other times it's pulling a guy aside. Whatever it might be, different forms of leadership in that regard, but also, I think in regards to each week, each game, so different. How do you find a way and it's one of the biggest challenges in the NFL to make sure your team is ready to play 16 weeks. It's a long season. It's a marathon. How do you make it to where your team is always concentrated and never having a mental lapse and you have to continue to find a chip to put on your shoulder, a motivational tactic of some kind that will get guys to simplify, because sometimes you sit up there and look at the stats between you and the team you're playing and sometimes all that stuff gets overwhelming. Sometimes you say how can I narrow this down? Sean does a great job, for example after today (he said), these are the three things we need to do to win this game. That simplifies it. Offense do this. Defense do this. Special teams do this. We'll win the game. That's a great way to handle it."
Q: Was Sean's example last week of discussing winning percentages of teams coming off the bye week a great example?
A: "Yes, 62 percent winner. Of all the things, that's the perfect example."
Q: Is it a coincidence that one week Sean mentioned how it would be a challenge for Darren Sharper to not only get interceptions, but return one for a touchdown?
A: "Exactly, that's just another one of those examples. That gets everybody laughing. It's funny. It's humorous, but I guarantee you Sharper, being the competitive guy he is, walks to his locker and is like ‘I have to prove that I can take one back' and he's taken three back, but it's just little ways to motivate you."
Q: Is part of Sean's effectiveness as a play caller related to that he seems to get the ball to a lot of different guys?
A: "I think that too, because he's able to take your strengths as a player and accentuate that within the system or give you the opportunities, put you in the positions to succeed. He's not going to ask you to do something that you're not comfortable with or you're not necessarily the best at. That's why you continue to see us just plug guys in and to their credit, they work extremely hard and we've brought in the right type of guys, but Sean puts them in a position to succeed. That makes guys play hard for you too, because you understand that everyone of us has opportunities. Every one of us plays a role in this offense. We're all a big part of it."
Q: You guys have run through quite a few tight ends since 2006. Can you talk about David Thomas?
A: "You talk about a great (trade) and obviously if Billy Miller doesn't get hurt it probably doesn't happen, obviously. What he's been able to do especially with Heath (Evans) getting hurt a couple weeks back, his ability to be so versatile and play multiple tight end positions as well as fullback position. We ask him to block out of the backfield, block as an in-line tight end. We ask him to do a lot in protection in the backfield. We ask him to run routes from the tight end position as well as split them out and have them run routes. He caught a few in the game last week basically as a split out and then check downs out of the backfield, he had a couple of big third down conversions. He's as versatile as they come. He's so smart and he gets it. He picks it up very quickly. He works at it and he's been a great, great addition."
Q: You guys don't pay attention to how guys were acquired, but do you consider acquiring him for a seventh round pick a good transaction?
A: "Absolutely, if you basically say we drafted this guy in the second round, would we be happy right now? Yes. It's like finding (Marques) Colston in the seventh round a couple years back, just a guy who can do so many different things, play at a high level, great in the locker room, just everything you want in a teammate and a player."
Q: How hard is it to switch from being the hunter to the hunted?
A: "We're still very much the hunter, but I know what you're saying. The fact is we're going to get everybody's best game, but that doesn't change our mentality as far as being aggressive and going out with a lot of confidence and swagger, but just understanding that especially early on in games and especially on the road, you're going to get a team's best punch and there's times where things maybe don't go your way and you have to weather the storm a bit like we had to at Miami, Monday night at home against Atlanta, and then Carolina and then even last week a little bit, but yet you know that when it comes time for that fourth quarter to finish strong that's something we've proven we can do and hopefully we can continue to do."
McAlister Hits The Ground Running - New Orleans Saints official website
"I came in here yesterday and had a good workout, now it’s time to ready to help out any way I can,"
"The thing I picked up as soon as I got here and got around the rest of the team was the feeling of ‘Team.’ You hear guys around here talking about ‘we’ and nobody talking is talking about themselves," McAlister said of his initial impression of the Saints. "The players have been very helpful and welcoming. I only have played for one other team, Baltimore, so I don’t know what it’s like to be in another locker room."
"Everything has a new name, so that’s an adjustment," he said. "But at the end of the day, playing cornerback is about making plays and trying to stop the other team. This week, that’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How or if I will be used will be determined during the week and into the game. Everything leading up to that is getting ready for if and when my number is called."
"I didn’t want to sign with any team just to play," McAlister said. "I wanted to join a winning team and a winning organization, unfortunately a couple guys got nicked up. But when the Saints called, I was ready. I have kept in shape and knew that I could come in and show them that I still can play and obviously I did that during my workout. I’m looking forward to helping out."
From the New Orleans Saints official website
Q: When you put on film of the Saints this year, does number 91 stands out on defense?
A: On defense, what's impressive is how much movement you get from everybody and how active they are on defense. 91 is playing well. Charles Grant is playing well. They are all playing well up front. With that improved secondary, Tracy Porter unfortunately got hurt, a guy that I know really well and a guy that I like a lot. I don't know if it was unfortunate for me, but it was unfortunate for the Saints, but he's out and whatever happened to him I hope he gets back fast, but just the speed of the whole defense and the continuity they're playing with is just impressive.
Q: Did you guys install Josh Freeman as the starting quarterback because it's part of a rebuilding effort or because you thought he gave you guys the best chance to win right away.
A: He gives us the best chance to win. We knew that. It was his time. It was time. We went through Byron Leftwich. We didn't get a win. Byron Leftwich did a great job for us when he was out there. There were some other factors involved and then also we went to Josh Johnson. Josh gave us a chance to win at the time. Our offensive line was a little banged up and he gave us a chance to move around with his feet. Now we're back up to full strength with our o-line and we have those guys out there and with Josh Johnson in the pocket, there would be some balls on the field. We've had a little bit more success on offense, especially in the fourth quarter with the young man out there. He's doing a good job. There are going to be some growing pains. We have to be patient. We have to go through all that with him.
Q: Did his insertion add an element and something for the team to get excited about?
A: I wouldn't really use any ploys. It's Josh Freeman's team. Once we drafted him in the first round, we knew that would be the case. It was just time to unleash him and let him learn how to play this game. It was a great opportunity to get him out there to go against five games in his division that has traditionally been a great one, throughout the whole process.
Q: Can you use the word rebuilding and not offend fans?
A: I really haven't used the word rebuilding. We had a makeshift deal in the beginning here. We had a wholesale wipeout, went to a youth movement. We really wanted to win. We wanted to come out and win every week. We really felt like we could still go win against some quality and good teams like we did against Green Bay. We have to come up with those kinds of efforts every week and we put ourselves in a position last week against Miami to win. Unfortunately it didn't come out that way. We'll come out and give our best effort against a really good New Orleans Saints team.
Q: What do you know about Chris McAlister?
A: He was a great corner in Baltimore. I don't know what he's been doing recently, but I'm sure when you have that kind of background and you understand defense and understand what you want to do, he'll help the football team right away. He'll give his best effort and we look forward to seeing him coming out there and doing that.
Q: What do you know about Drew Brees? Have you been encouraged by some of his recent turnovers?
A: Are you kidding me? He doesn't make mistakes. He gives his players opportunities to catch the ball. They either catch them for him or they don't. He's the ultimate quarterback. He's kind of like a robo-quarterback so to speak. He gets the job done. He has a bunch of good guys around him like Marques Colston, who's from Hofstra, Lance Moore, some of those other guys, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem that's come along this year that's really been the guy standing out from the receiver corps, because he's the one guy I haven't seen as much due to injuries the last couple years, but he's been stepping it up this year. Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas has really carried the load as far as some of the running plays that Deuce McAllister used to do for you guys and some of the guys in the past. That offense just in general has been lights out. Everything's going the way it should go and I would expect nothing less from a Sean Paytoncoached football team.
Q: What would beating the Saints mean to your first year program?
A: That's really what we're trying to do. We're really trying to be out there as spoilers to everybody else. We were given, I don't know what the rankings were, top four in schedule if you want to talk about it being hard and those things. It's been fun. Now we have a chance to play all the best teams because at one point in this league, if you want to be good enough to compete against anybody in this league and when you can go out there and get an opportunity to play against some of these guys and get some confidence against guys like the Saints and go out there and play well, we're going to try to win the football game of course, but we want to get out there and give our best efforts enough to perform well enough to win and go out there and be our best self.
Q: Has it been a hard sell to get everybody on board or has there been a lot of enthusiasm?
A: There's been a lot of enthusiasm. I have a tough football team. Mentally tough and physically tough as well. I don't know if you watched it on tape, but these guys played hard and we haven't come out and won a lot, but they're a hard playing football team. We were really outmatched one game against the New York Giants. That was the one game where I don't feel like we competed as well as we could, but for the most after that, it has been really competitive, intense games. We just haven't come out on top as much as we'd like to. The last two weeks have been signs of where we can go and signs of what we can be. These guys are starting to buy in and do some of the positive things to do to compete at this level.
Q: Have you changed much of your defense from the previous regime?
A: The previous regime we worked with we tried to transform it a little bit to this package we're in right now. We just transformed over to it. There's not much difference. There's a lot of the same coverages, little different verbiage, different teachings and some more understanding of different things we may not have talked about before. We have all the stuff we had before. We've just added some things we needed to add from before and now we're just putting it all together. We have a bunch of young guys that have to buy into it and grow into it together and see where we can go.
Q: They say that once a rookie has made it through a number of games he's not a rookie anymore. Are you still a rookie head coach?
A: I don't' know. You have to ask my team that. I'm getting better and better every day as well. If there's something...There's no handbook for head coaching. You go into the job, you have to be your best self. What I'm doing is going out there and trying to lead men and that's my job. My job is to lead men to come in here and give our best effort and put them in a position to win.
Q: Are there any surprises to the job?
A: Not really surprises. The only thing that's different is the amount of media presentation that you have to deal with. Other than that, it's been like leading a big DB room. That's how we take it and that's how we approach. All those guys feel that way.
Q: Are there any plans to use the Wildcat against the Saints?
A: I haven't shown any wildcat on tape yet. I don't think we have any plans to use the wildcat. If we do, I'm not telling Sean Payton anyway.
From the Times-Pic
What have you learned over the course of two NFL starts?
"I've learned a lot. Whether it be learning about myself, what defenses are trying to do to me, speeding up my game to make it a little even, because sometimes there are instances like last week where I was scrambling and I felt like I had more time. Some of those d linemen ended up closing on me pretty fast and ended up stripping it out."
What have you learned about yourself?
"My preparation week to week, just what it takes to give your team a chance to win."
Does Will Smith stand out to you at all?
"Yes. They have a lot of guys that that stand out. They play a really aggressive style. They have a lot of standouts. We haven't really gotten into a ton of personnel. There's a whole lot of schemes and looking at the pressures."
Did everyone seem to be on board with the rebuilding effort?
"I guess. You have to go along with it. Everybody wants to be successful. That's the way the management is going along with it. Everybody's bought in and going in the same direction."
Was it hard for the club to go through the start to the season?
"Yes. It's always miserable when you're not winning. For me in particular, not being in the game, being on the bench and having your team lose is really tough."
What have you seen in the growth of Raheem Morris as a head coach?
"Coach Morris has done a good job. He demands respect from the team. The team respects him, and everybody plays hard for him. He's found a way to be a player's coach, but at the same time maintain the respect he has for everyone."
Have you noticed growth in him from week one to week ten in how he goes about things?
"I don't know. I don't really know what being a head coach all entails, but from what I've seen he's been doing a great job."
What additional things do you want to get better at after your first two starts?
"I definitely say fumbling. Versus Green Bay we had a fumbled snap. This week we had one where I fumbled and one where I dropped a shotgun snap. It's definitely being more ball secure."
How long did you expect to wait before playing? Did you expect to not play this season or expect to get a chance?
"I really didn't know at first going through camp because Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich, they were the showcase competition. They ended up trading Luke and moving Josh Johnson to second string. At that point, I was thinking I might get to play. Then they made the switch to Josh, played me at second string. That's when I really felt like I would get an opportunity at some point this year."
Was it everything you hoped for?
"It's definitely very emotional for me, not necessarily because it's the NFL, but because it's the thrill of competition, always trying to find a way to win and putting all you have into it."