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Fleur-de-Links - Nov. 3rd: Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer Return to Practice, Pierre Thomas Almost Traded

Our injury-depleted secondary could get its top two CBs back in the line-up this week. Tracy Porter had a full practice and Jabari Greer was limited today. Both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas did not practice. Looks like they won't be back until after the bye week. Garrett Hartley was also held out of practice with an ankle injury, but Coach Payton expects him to return tomorrow.

Brian Alee-Walsh is reporting that the Saints almost traded Pierre Thomas to the Patriots for a cornerback shortly before the Oct. 19 trade deadline. WOW! Has Payton become that frustrated with the Flying Frenchman and his injured ankle? This doesn't make much sense to me. I'm glad the potential trade fell through.

In other news, the Saints reportedly considered going after Randy Moss, but then decided against putting in a waiver claim for him. They could have grabbed him ahead of the Titans had they chose to do so. Can't say I'm sorry they didn't get him, though. I agree with Drew's statement on Mr. Moss:

"He is someone I think all teams look into but I love our guys. I wouldn't trade our WRs for anybody in the world."


stujo4 @jeffduncantp GREAT analysis on why Saints don't need Haynesworth. Now do one on Merriman.

jeffduncantp #Saints injury report: R.Bush, J. Stinchcomb (knee), P.Robinson (ankle), P.Prioleau (ankle), G.Hartley (ankle), & P.Thomas, did not practice

Official_Saints Ankle injury but coach said he expects him to be fine. Sat out as precaution RT @HeidiHo_87: @Official_Saints what's wrong with Hartley?

jeffduncantp Payton said the Saints spent time evaluating the film of Randy Moss as a matter of routine. Wouldn't indicate if they put in a claim or not.

Official_Saints Coach Payton specified how highly former teammates @HeathEvans & David Thomas spoke of Moss as a teammate.

dmpressley Just finished a good practice... Thank u to everyone that wished me a happy bday. Wish I could thank you all!!!!! Y'all are the best!!

jeffduncantp Payton said Reggie Bush is still not healthy enough to practice. Said he needs to be 100 percent with his cuts, burst, etc.

Official_Saints Media gave Payton some leftover Halloween candy at his press conference.

dmpressley I am 25yrs old today!!! I feel great!! And I look even better!!! Hahahaha

Official_Saints For the record, media offered Brees candy but he politely declined saying he still has to work out more.

Official_Saints Brees on WR Randy Moss "He is someone I think all teams look into but I love our guys. I wouldn't trade our WRs for anybody in the world."

Official_Saints @drewbrees at his press conference today

jeffduncantp RT @Official_Saints: @drewbrees said despite team's record, he still believes the #Saints have the ability to be better than lst yr's team.

alexbrown96 Everyone wish @dmpressley happy b day!!!

LanceMoore16 Ur boys are preparing for another big game this weekend in Carolina. Def looking forward to getting out there.

stujo4 @jeffduncantp Don Banks at SI says he "guesses" the Saints will put in a waiver claim for Moss.

thomasmorstead What a great day....

jeffduncantp Titans claim WR Randy Moss, one spot ahead of the #Saints. Not sure if the Saints put in a claim for him.

jeffduncantp Correct. Saints passed on him. RT @davefrantz: @jeffduncantp I thought we were 1 spot ahead of Titans?

Adam_Schefter One place Randy Moss hoped to go was Tenn. He plans to report, happily. And @ChrisJohnson28 will be happy to have him. Stretches defenses.

Adam_Schefter Some saving grace for Minnesota: Vikings off the hook for balance of Randy Moss' $3.38 million contract. Look for Moss to shine in Tenn.

JasonLaCanfora Just left church. Thanks for all the well wishes. So Moss is a Titan and Merriman is a Bill. Which guy do you figure is more excited?

mortreport My gut reaction is Titans are one of the few teams where this works for team and Moss. This could tilt the AFC South in Titans' favor

mortreport Moss should've gotten message 31 teams didn't put in claim - needs productive, controversy-free 2nd half if he wants straight-cash as UFA


New Orleans Saints injury report for Wednesday, 11/7 |
Six players for the New Orleans Saints did not practice Thursday, and the team's top running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas remained among them, according to the injury report released by Coach Sean Payton.

Porter returns to practice; Bush, Thomas remain off practice field | New Orleans News, Local News, Breaking News, Weather | | Eye on Black and Gold
Cornerback Tracy Porter practiced full for the first time since injuring his knee Oct. 3 as the Saints practiced Wednesday for their Sunday showdown at Carolina.


New Orleans Saints Notebook: Tracy Porter close to return; Pierre Thomas almost traded
Word out of Foxborough, Mass., is that Saints running back Pierre Thomas (injured left ankle and all) apparently was close to becoming a member of the New England Patriots. The teams apparently discussed a deal on the eve of the trading deadline on Oct. 19 - Thomas for a cornerback. Talks, according to a source, ended when the Patriots wanted the Saints to throw in a draft pick. … The Saints did not put in a waiver claim on either of the two marquee players Wednesday -- WR Randy Moss and LB Shawne Merriman. Moss went to the Tennessee Titans at No. 23 and Merriman went to the Buffalo Bills at No. 1. No other team put a claim in on Moss. Miami and Tampa Bay put claims in on Merriman. The Saints are presently in the 22nd waiver slot based on their 5-3 record.


Scouting report: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers |
Panthers are lowest-scoring team in NFL

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams remains sidelined |
A look at the Panthers' injuries

Carolina Panthers LB Jon Beason says it's tough to go to work when the team is losing |
Every Sunday a shot at redemption

Offensive struggles not tearing apart Panthers
They haven't allowed a 100-yard receiver or a 300-yard passer all season. Drew Brees managed one touchdown against them, Chad Ochocinco 34 yards receiving and Todd Collins posted a 6.2 passer rating.


Are the New Orleans Saints in the Randy Moss sweepstakes mix? |
Though it seems very unlikely, given how far down in the waiver wire pecking order the New Orleans Saints are, the team has done its due diligence regarding wide receiver Randy Moss, Coach Sean Payton confirmed Wednesday.

Tennessee Titans claim WR Randy Moss on waivers - ESPN
The Tennessee Titans have claimed former Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss.


Self-critical Polamalu knows he can play better - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Polamalu wouldn’t discuss specifics, but said there were multiple occasions when the Saints’ alignment and personnel alerted him to what was coming. Wary of abandoning his assignment, he chose not to gamble by trying to break up a play, but wishes now he had. | Saints Blog | Saints retain No. 3 ranking in total defense — Baton Rouge, LA
The Saints’ defense retained its No. 3 overall ranking in the latest NFL stats after allowing just 279 total yards in a 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Where the Saints rank in the NFL: Colston, defense among league's elite | New Orleans News, Local News, Breaking News, Weather | | Eye on Black and Gold
The rankings that you care about Total offense (365.1 yards) – 9th (7th last week) Rush offense (84.8 yards) – 29th (26th) Pass offense (280.4 yards) – 5th (5th) Total defense (287.3 yards) – 3rd (3rd) Rush defense (108.6 yards) – 16th (16th) Pass defense (178.6 yards) – 3rd (3rd) news: No replay feed influenced Steelers' failure to challenge TD call
The Steelers apparently didn't challenge a possible touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall against the Saints on Sunday night because their assistant coaches stationed in the press box couldn't see the same replays that were viewed by the millions of fans watching on TV.

New Orleans Saints goal-line stand set the tone for the win against Pittsburgh: Film study |
The weekly breakdown of the Saints game


New Orleans Saints defensive success could mean upgrade for Gregg Williams
If the New Orleans Saints continue to play lights out defense, Gregg Williams could find himself back in the head coaching ranks in 2011.

How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch - NFC South Blog - ESPN - Bucs sign DT Woods
The Buccaneers have signed rookie DT Al Woods to take the roster spot of Brian Price, who was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday with a season-ending pelvic injury.

'Cyber chat' yields mid-season Saints answers (sort of) - MVP Meter: Young stars emerge
3. Saints QB Drew Brees (No. 6) — Some teams like to play it safe with a late lead. Not Brees and the Saints. Holding a three-point lead vs. the Steelers with 6:24 remaining, Brees completed all six of his passes to drive New Orleans 55 yards, the final eight of which came on a TD strike to Lance Moore. Brees finished the game 34-of-44 for 305 yards against one of the league's toughest defenses.

Atlanta Falcons-Tampa Bay Buccaneers meeting in unlikely NFC South showdown |
Falcons take exception to Raheem Morris' proclamation

Jammal Brown trade looks good for New Orleans: Saints mailbag |
The T-P's Jeff Duncan answers your Saints questions

Guy Fieri's 'Tailgate Warriors' visits New Orleans Saints territory |
Episode airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday (November 3)


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Post-Practice Press Conference

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Opening Statement:

"First to hit on the injury notes for the day: Jonathan Goodwin (groin) was full; cornerback Tracy Porter (knee) was full; linebacker Scott Shanle (hamstring) was full; running back Chris Ivory with his concussion was full; cornerback Jabari Greer (shoulder) was limited; wide receiver Marques Colston with his right hand was limited; Reggie Bush (fibula) did not practice; Jon Stinchcomb (knee) did not practice; cornerback Patrick Robinson (ankle) did not practice; safety Pierson Prioleau (ankle) did not practice; kicker Garrett Hartley (right ankle) did not practice; running back Pierre Thomas (ankle) did not practice."

Will you need to bring in a kicker at some point this week?

"No, I don’t think in Garrett’s case it’s going to be anything that keeps him out. We sat him today; he could have kicked today. I think he’ll kick tomorrow and the rest of the week."

Will he still kick off?

"That’s a good question. We probably would lean more to what we did in the game with Thomas Morstead kicking off. We’ll see how tomorrow goes, but I do think – in fact I’m certain – that he’ll be able to play. We just held him back with today’s practice."

Was today another good sign for Tracy Porter returning?

"Yes, he did well. He and Jabari (Greer) both did well. That was encouraging."

In Stinchcomb’s case, is that the same knee that had bothered him previously?

"Yes. He has some swelling. We backed off of him in today’s practice; we’ll see how he is tomorrow. Zach Strief took the bulk of the work there."

Is there a particular injury to the knee?

"No, it was just after the game with it being sore and trying to calm it down as best we can."

Last year when you had injuries at cornerback you were forced to bring players in from outside. Why have you this season been able to find replacements already on the roster?

"We’ve been fortunate to have guys – starting with Patrick (Robinson) – who have played quite a bit with the initial injuries and then Leigh Torrence playing. The flexibility that Malcolm Jenkins gives you in that it’s a position that he’s familiar with – all those factors have allowed us to stay internal as opposed to a year ago and get through this stretch. That’s been a positive sign."

How beneficial is it to have a guy like Malcolm on the team that can rotate between safety and cornerback?

"First off, it’s a tribute to the player. He’s a very intelligent player; he’s given us a lot of good snaps, whether it’s at safety, nickel or corner, and he’s playing real good football right now. That depth and that versatility that the player has is important and has helped us."

You still haven’t connected on many deep passing plays. Is that something that you’ve adjusted around?

"We go through the numbers each Wednesday and the comparisons and clearly that’s something that we’re constantly paying attention to – explosive plays, whether it’s in the passing game or in the running game. That’s one area that you keep being mindful of. Drew (Brees) is smart enough where we can call our shot plays and if they don’t present themselves he’ll come underneath to the check-downs and we’ll continue to do that."

Is Drew playing as well right now as he’s played all year?

"The second half (on Sunday) he played very well in a big spot. I see his focus, his workweek, his preparation completely the same as it has been. I think with the consistency over a long period of time you’ll see it. Generally at quarterback, it’s a byproduct of a lot of other things too; of us doing other things well, minimizing the penalties, keeping ourselves on schedule and being able to run the football. A lot of those things contribute to him playing well. Protection and all of those things factor in."

Are there any major differences between Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen and does having Moore back in there change the way you prepare?

"That’s a good question. Matt probably has a little bit more experience, having played those snaps last year. The offense that they run does not completely change when there’s a switch at quarterback. There are still the key elements of a line that we think is doing well and plays well. They’re explosive when it comes to the running game with both of those runners, and Steve Smith the same way. So I don’t know that the quarterback change affects the defensive game plan specifically like it might in other cases. I would just say the one thing is that you have more experience in Matt with the snaps that he’s had in comparison to Jimmy."

Would you say that Malcolm is to the point now to where even when all of the DBs are back healthy, you could foresee moving him around situationally?

"The one thing you want is that you want him on the field. You never look at a player like that and say that he’s a luxury. His flexibility to some degree is a luxury, but he’s playing at a level where we need to make sure – whether it’s in the nickel or it’s in the base – that he’s out there. The one thing that Gregg (Williams) and his staff have done a real good job with is the dual training aspect of defensive positions, especially when you look at what you’re able to come to the game with. When all of a sudden you’re already light at a position and Patrick after the first play has an ankle injury, other guys are going to have to step up and play. Fortunately, they were able to do that last weekend and they’ve done it in the past. We’ve had to do that to some degree on offense with the running back position. You have to be somewhat flexible with your roster and the players that are going to the game."

Is it exceptional to have that much confidence in a second-year player?

"You hope to have that with a guy that you select early. We’re pleased with his progress. From the day he arrived, he was someone that learned quickly. It’s very important to him; he’s very competitive; he has a lot of those traits that you look for that sometimes are hard to member in a draft-eligible player."

Is Remi Ayodele one of those guys whose value might not be easily seen by an untrained eye?

"Yes. I think it’s hard for nose tackles to begin with, yet we’re defending the run very well. He’s playing very consistently, which is a complement when you’re playing nose. Week in and week out we know what we have and he’s been performing at that level. He understands exactly what we’re looking for in the defense and within the framework of his position and he has done well the first half here."

Is it sometimes difficult to get players to accept that role?

"In his case, the player understands what playing nose is. Oftentimes that’s eating up two blocks. I think the nature of playing inside on the defensive line – no different than playing offensive line – involves dirty work, which is important to the battle of winning the line of scrimmage and how that equates generally to winning or losing football games. I think he understands that."

Are your defensive ends playing significantly better against the run?

"They’ve been consistent. Last week that position group played well. You saw Will Smith who was very active and whether it’s Alex (Brown), Jeff Charleston – who came up big on the goal line – playing for us, regardless of who’s been out there, they’ve been functioning well."

Would you consider bringing Randy Moss in?

"I think every team spent some time in the last 48 hours of at least looking closely at the player and trying to look at the 49 targets that he’s had to date in New England or in Minnesota. And I know we’ve done that just to know where the player is right now. I would be fairly confident that every club spent time looking at the targeted plays that he was involved in to be on top of it and have a grade right now. We have a handful of players here that were teammates of his in New England. When you talk to David Thomas or Heath (Evans), they go on and on – and I’ve heard this from more than just a few people – about how intelligent the player is in regards to the game of football and what kind of teammate he has been. Those are all things that you look at and then you make a decision as to if there’s a fit. I think every team has probably done their homework."

What decision did you come to?

"We’ve come to a decision but it wouldn’t be right for me to announce it prior to the claiming deadline. But I think every team has looked closely at it. Really, when 4:00 Eastern comes, his name is more visible but when the waiver wire hit yesterday, that would be the case and you would have an idea with every player that hits the waiver wire – What’s the grade? Is there a fit? You look at that always. Certainly there’s more attention to this player, but that being said, you do your homework."

Some people take players off of their draft boards regardless of how good they are. Is he someone you would do that with?

"Based on the information that we have, he’s someone that I think is competitive. He’s someone that I think is very smart football-wise. We had a chance to practice up there for a good period of time and the reports on what kind of teammate he is have all been outstanding."

Could you talk about the steady play of the defensive unit all season long?

"That consistency you see not just statistically but you see in regards to the way that we’ve been able to handle the run. I think it’s very important when you can force a team to become one-dimensional. That’s one of the things that Pittsburgh has done such a good job of. The passing statistics that people brought up a week ago are oftentimes a result of the way that they play good run defense. We’ll get challenged again this week by a team that can run the ball very well, but I think we’ve been able to play the run well, eliminate the big plays, and we got some takeaways last week which were key to us winning that game, especially the late one with Marvin Mitchell’s caused fumble. When you’re playing good defense, you have a chance each week to win and that has been encouraging."

Are you comfortable with that fine line between just jumping on a loose ball on defense and trying to pick it up and score? Has that cost you a few times this year?

"Yes, but it’s only brought up when you don’t recover it. It’s not brought up when you scoop and score. You just keep working those drills with the ball on the ground. You don’t want to become conservative. That’s happened twice that I can think of and yet there are those other instances where there has been a significant amount of yards gained. I think you’re aggressive with it. There’s no certainty that when you fall on the ball that you’re going to recover it either. You see that often; there’s still that challenge of securing it. Is it harder to secure it when you’re trying to pick it up and run? Yes, probably, but we want to be aggressive when the ball is out."

Going back to the deep passing game, have you seen a significantly higher percentage of two-deep zones to prevent you from making the big throws?

"Teams are going to pay close attention to where your speed is, where the threat is on the field. I think teams do a great job, either with the corner or the safety covering the deep post or the deep go. We’ve ended up in the last couple of weeks hitting some big plays into those cover-two holes, if you go back to Tampa Bay and you go back to last week where Drew did a good job of moving (Troy) Polamalu and finding Robert Meachem in a window. We just have to be able to recognize coverages and understand where the windows are down the field, and I think that Drew is as good as anyone doing that."

Are you seeing a lot more teams trying to take that away though?

"I don’t know. At the bye we’ll be able to chart it. Teams are all going to have a two-deep type of principle in their package and there are variations of how they play it. Some run the mike linebacker through the middle of the coverage and give you more of a Tampa-two look. Others play more of a match underneath scheme. We’ve seen more two-man this year than in years past but I think that’s something that is a little bit more of a trend, regardless of who the opponent is. In other words, we’re seeing more and more teams playing two-deep man under. Again, it’s just recognizing it and what we want to do in regards to attacking it."

What do you need to impress upon your team this week given the magnitude of the win over Pittsburgh and next week looking at the bye?

"I think just the consistency in our workweek and in our preparation; us being thorough and understanding the specifics in regards to Carolina of where their strengths are. What are the things that we have to be alert to do well in this game to win? And having that same focus, that same edge that we’ve had when we’ve played well. Those are the main things."

Will Reggie Bush need to be cleared medically or pass a certain test in order to return to practice and play?

"No, none of that. He’s close; he’s moving around. Is he close enough to where he could play football today? Not today, so we didn’t practice him. He’s at a point where it’s just his movement and his agility. I’m optimistic and yet again, we just have to wait and see each day here. If he’s ready to play this week, we won’t wait for the bye. If he’s ready to play this week, we’ll play him this week. We try to just see what he’s doing in the rehab and see how he’s functioning and how he’s moving and then make a decision based on that."

So it’s really more of an eyeball test and what he’s telling you?

"And the communication that he has and how he feels like he’s moving. If he’s not 100% in regards to his movement… From a healing standpoint in regards to the bone, we’re confident and everyone is confident that that has taken place. Now it’s the movement that goes with it; it’s the burst. All the things that are necessary at his position."

Can you relate how your relationship with John Fox has evolved over the years?

"We spent a number of years on the same staff in New York – ’99, 2000, ’01. I think in ’02 he came to Carolina, so three of the four years that I was there were with John. He’s a tremendous coach; a good teacher; he’s a good friend and someone that has been very successful, not only as an assistant but as a head coach. He would be one of the handful of guys that I would communicate with on a regular basis, whether it’s at league meetings, Combines, workouts; he’s someone that I stay in touch with a lot."

Is it difficult to see him struggling now especially with the success that you’ve had?

"I think the one thing that is clear in league circles is his ability to be successful as a head coach. With the success that he’s had in Carolina, with where they were at when he arrived to where they went, his track record and all of those things speak for themselves. He’s very well thought of and highly regarded in our industry; not just by coaches or friends like myself, but by general managers and owners. He’s very talented. He’s an extremely good coach."

Carolina Panthers Coach John Fox

Conference Call Transcript

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You guys always play the Saints really tough. Can some of that be attributed to your familiarity with Sean Payton?

"I don’t know if it’s as much me and Sean as it’s a division team. We’ve been playing them since the inception of the division, even before Sean got there. I think anytime you have a division rival, you have those kinds of battles. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Atlanta, Tampa, New Orleans, vice-versa. I think it’s more because of the familiarity."

Did you have any influence on Sean’s behalf when he was interviewing with the Saints or for other NFL jobs?

"We’ve always been friends. We communicate. Somewhere along the line, I’m sure people that make those decisions asked me about Sean. Of course I have nothing but great things to say. He’s definitely accomplished a lot with the Saints."

Did you anticipate the quarterback issues that your club has experienced?

"I think we went into the season with Matt Moore as our starter. We went into the preseason and didn’t have much success on offense. That continued into the regular season in two games. We were basically in a funk. I changed quarterbacks the one time basically to try to spark our offense. I went back to Matt (Moore) after the bye week and we had a win against San Francisco and last week lost in St. Louis. He’s going to be our guy. He’s got more experience. I’ve watched him win games here. He hasn’t been the quarterback a lot. He’d been 6-2 as the starter. Its’ not just our quarterback. We haven’t been executing as well as we’re capable of as an offense."

Doesn’t going back and forth with different quarterbacks affect the team’s equilibrium?

"We’ve only made one change. We started with Matt, went to Jimmy (Clausen) and went back to Matt, so it’s not like it’s a new guy. I think they feel comfortable with Matt. I don’t think we’re changing all that much."

DeAngelo Williams was hobbled last week. Is he coming along?

"Yes. He’s getting better. He’s listed as day to day. He didn’t practice today, but he’s improving every day."

We talked to Jon Beason before you and he said teams have been running much more on you guys than passing. Has the run defense been a problem?

"No, I think because we haven’t been scoring a lot of points, people have been taking the air out and shortening the game so to speak. We’re actually playing pretty good run defense, seventh in the league. We are seeing a little bit more runs than passes. We’ve had quite a few takeaways. We’ve been known for takeaways over the years. People are just taking the air out a little bit because we haven’t scored a lot of points."

Do you sense your players taking into effect your contract situation and the fact that it is in limbo a little bit?

"I don’t think so. You’d have to ask them that, but I think that just like players in the last year of their deals, coaches or really anybody, whether you’re in the first year or the last year, you’re under contract. We’re very well compensated to play this game. They’re getting my best effort. I’m expecting the same from them."

Why do you think it is that the Saints seem to have trouble in Carolina?

"I don’t know. All division games are close, most of them. Anytime you play a division opponent there’s familiarity. You play them twice a year. You study them. You study their offseason moves. I think that just comes with the territory."

Carolina Panthers LB Jon Beason

Conference Call Transcript

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can you talk about the season that your team is having defensively, even though it isn’t reflective in the record?

"To me solid is a C. That’s average. I think we’re playing pretty well. There are things we can do to help our offense and team out in terms of getting some more turnovers and scoring. We don’t even want to say that we’re satisfied or content with how we’re playing on our side. The only stat that counts at the end of the day is wins and losses."

Where did the Saints have success against you in the last meeting?

"The biggest statistic was third down. Drew Brees is the best in the league at third down conversions. They were eight-of-14 if I’m not mistaken. Our goal is to hold them to 33 percent. They’re able to sustain drives. We played them tough, but down the stretch they made some plays and got some field goals to help them get the win."

Do the multiple reports about John Fox’s job security up there affect you guys?

"Everyone has job security (issues) right now. We’re facing a potential lockout. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next year. I don’t think it’s something we’re going to focus on or even think about as an organization."

Does it affect your play as a player knowing that your coach might be on the hot seat?

"No, I think that’s something that will be addressed in the future. Right now he’s still giving 100 percent here every day, staying late, trying to help us come up with the right scheme to go ahead and get some wins. That’s what everybody’s trying to do right now."

How does a team respond to the uncertainty at quarterback?

"I think early on there were a lot of different things going into the quarterback position as it wasn’t playing up to par if you would say. At the end of the day, I think guys have rallied around them, whether it’s Matt (Moore) or Jimmy (Clausen) in there and tried to do their job to help those guys be successful. Jimmy’s a rookie, so he’s going to have his lumps. Even though he’s going into his fourth year in the NFL, Matt has only eight or nine starts under his belt. As a teammate you try to do more around them and try to help those young guys out."

Do you think the inexperience is more of a factor than the changes in the rotation?

"I think it all has its hand in it. It’s just tough. If you watch any defense, someone can make a mistake, someone else can make a great play and nobody knows that other guy made a mistake. Offensively if someone makes a mistake, or someone gets beat, someone gets off the ball, runs a bad route or there’s a missed protection…So many different things can go wrong offensively that result in a negative play when maybe the other ten guys are doing their job. We go back and we evaluate the film and the story’s been the same all year in terms of not what teams have been doing to us, but what we’re not doing as the Carolina Panthers.

It’s true you guys have been strong defensively, but against the run you guys haven’t been nearly as strong as against the pass. Why do you think that’s the case?

"I think when it comes down to it, teams tend to throw less against us and run more. I don’t know why that is, but at the end of the day it’s two phases of the game. Usually you’re going to be good at one and maybe not as good at the other. For the most part, it’s just about keeping people out of the end zone and keeping points off the board. As a linebacker, I wish it was reversed, but it’s not the case. What really counts is keeping points off the board."

You guys gave New Orleans a really hard time in October. Do you guys match up well with the Saints? You guys always seem to play these guys tough. Often you guys beat them.

"Often, I think it just comes down to being familiar. I think the NFC South, especially now that Tampa’s coming on, is definitely a division to be reckoned with. When it comes to playing the Saints, you have coach (John) Fox and coach (Sean) Payton are former coaches who coached together before and know each other well. So, it’s a chess match. We’re so familiar that we know what makes the Saints vulnerable and what makes them go. I think it just comes down to being familiar with them."

When you’re going through a season where things don’t go your way and playoff chances don’t look great, does it get hard to come to work everyday?

"Yes, it’s definitely tough. When you lose, it seems like the sun doesn’t come up. You feel the vibe the whole week throughout the facility. You just try to stay enthusiastic and remember that this league’s based on what you’re doing right now. Nobody cares if you scored 40 points last week and had an all pro performance. People want to see where you win now. That’s the beauty of the game in that there’s always next week. You always try to push through. It’s definitely tough. Guys know we have the ability to play well when we want to. It’s about being consistent."


Drew Brees says the New Orleans Saints did some soul searching before Pittsburgh game

Saints Vlog: November 3 - Porter nears return