Text Us: 870870
Studio: (504)260.1870
Toll Free: (866)889.0870
A   A   A
 Follow 
Share

Posted: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 10:56AM

Payton narrowing Saints' focus for finale vs. Bucs



With the Saints still trying to lock up a playoff spot, coach Sean Payton's theme for this week deals with focusing on what his team can control and tuning out all the uncertainties.

Payton even made the unusual move of quickly ending speculation about safety Kenny Vaccaro's availability for Sunday's regular season finale against Tampa Bay, announcing on Monday that the rookie defensive back has a fractured left ankle and is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.

"We're approaching this like a playoff game," Payton said. "The key for us is to handle the holiday week, with Christmas being on a Wednesday, put together a good plan and a good set of practices and put our focus into playing our best football Sunday."

The coach also confirmed that rookie Terron Armstead would get his second-career start at left tackle, despite being beaten on three sacks and committing two false start penalties in a 17-13 loss at Carolina on Sunday.

"Certainly there are growing pains, but there are a lot of things that he did very well," Payton said of Armstead, who replaced Charles Brown following the veteran's benching at St. Louis in Week 15. "Going through the tape now twice, I was extremely encouraged by the way he played."

The Saints, who host the Buccaneers at 4:25 p.m. EST Sunday, know they'll be in the playoffs if they win. What they don't know is how high their seeding will be. They could win the division and snatch the No. 2 seed in the NFC - meaning a coveted first-round bye and second-round home game - if they beat the Bucs and if Carolina also loses at Atlanta in a 1 p.m. Sunday game.

The Saints could even lose and still make the playoffs, so long as Arizona also losses at home against San Francisco.

"The challenge this week is trying guard against" thinking about those various scenarios, Payton said. "We control one thing. We know if we're able to go out and play well and win, we're guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. ... I don't want to spend those two hours prior to the game with the television sets going and all the other potential distractions that can take place with a game that's being played prior to ours."

New Orleans initially was scheduled to play at the same time as Carolina, but kickoff was moved back to avoid the possibility of the Cardinals being eliminated before their kickoff.

Meanwhile, Payton said he plans to start meetings and practice a couple hours later than usual on Wednesday, allowing players to spend Christmas morning with whatever family they may have in town.

And right now, it seems, the Saints could use support from family, as well as fans. Their loss at Carolina prevented them from clinching their division and a No. 2 seed, and left them still in danger of missing the postseason altogether. It was also their third loss in four games and marked the first time they've lost two straight.

"We had really good opportunities the last two weeks and we didn't take advantage of those," receiver Lance Moore said. "Now it's a win-or-go-home-type scenario for us."

Quarterback Drew Brees, meanwhile, posted a note on social media reading: "Hey Who Dat Nation. Our team appreciates you so much, especially during times like these. Our best is yet to come. Believe That! Who Dat!"

Payton described the Saints as upbeat during meetings on Monday, when they were able to see how much they did right in nearly beating the playoff-bound Panthers on the road.

Asked whether his team's confidence could be shaken by its recent slide, Payton said, "I don't sense that at all. Obviously all of us hurt from that loss - it stung - but I think they felt pretty good about the preparation and the plan going in and they did a great job of executing it."

Since starting 5-0, New Orleans has been essentially mired in mediocrity, going 5-5, but safety Malcolm Jenkins said the Saints still view themselves as a squad with a lot of upside.

"If you watch us on tape, we're a good team. We have a great offense. The defense is playing top five. The special teams are clicking," Jenkins said. "We know once we get in the tournament, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with. But to get there we have to get this win this week. So I think all the focus goes there."

A   A   A
 Follow 
Share
Deke's Blog
Deke: Mainieri and Tigers back on track
Just two weeks ago LSU's baseball team was coming off a week of action in which they did not win a single game. Since then the Tigers won seven of their last eight games. "We did not play our best, but we did what we needed to do to win the series....
Read More
Deke: LSU QB Harris looks like a star in the making
Some of his passes were overthrown; others too short and he was only 11-of-28 in pass attempts, BUT after watching freshman QB Brandon Harris at the LSU spring football game, I came away impressed. Certainly you have to realize Harris was in a...
Read More
Deke: Ahead of LSU spring game, Les Miles "likes where we are"
The LSU Tigers will conclude spring football practice this weekend as they hold their annual L-Club spring game, and Coach Miles joined me on "Sports Talk" Wednesday to talk about their preparations. "I think we've been able to get in some quality...
Read More
Deke: LSU's Mainieri says "We'll be ok"
In his days of coaching the game, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri has not often had weeks in which his team did not win a single game. "Wasn't much fun, I can tell you that. Let's hope we don't experience that again." Mainieri was talking about the...
Read More
Deke: New Saints FB Erik Lorig greets us with a "Who Dat?"
To Saints fans, there is no better way to start off than by saying “Who Dat!”  Well, new Saints fullback Erik Lorig sounded off with a big “Who Dat” as he spoke with me and Bobby for the first time on Wednesday’s Sports...
Read More
Hokie's Blog
Bobby's Blog
Kristian's Blog
Kristian: Jonathan Goodwin visiting with Saints
Veteran center Jonathan Goodwin is making a free-agency visit with the Saints this week after spending three years in San Francisco. Black & Gold fans will remember that Goodwin was starting center for the Super Bowl-winning 2009 squad. Of course, the...
Read More
Kristian: Bush recoups fine money from Harvin hit
Saints safety Rafael Bush is $21,000 dollars richer today after successfully appealing a fine from the NFL for his hit on Seahawks WR Percy Harvin in the divisional play off game this past January. I just realized it took me 3 months to appeal my...
Read More
Kristian: Saints play money game, again
The entire Saints coaching staff descended upon Baton Rouge for LSU Pro Day, including Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis (who, by the way, I'm convinced has Secret Service and CIA-level technology to get in touch with agents and the who's who...
Read More
Kristian: Rafael Bush still a Saint
The New Orleans Saints have matched the 2-year $4.5 million dollar restricted free agent offer for safety Rafael Bush. The Atlanta Falcons signed Bush to an offer sheet last week. I'm still a saint yep — rafael bush (@rbush36) April...
Read More
Kristian: De la Puente leaving Saints for Chicago
The Saints will have a new center in 2014. The Chicago Bears have signed former Saints center Brian de la Puente to a 1 year deal according to the team's website. Brian de la Puente took over the Saints full time starter in 2011. The terms of the...
Read More
NFL Draft

Team News
Saints Schedule
Team Leaders
Division Standings
NFC Standings
ADVERTISEMENT

FACEBOOK

1 Thing

Contact Us

Contests

WWL iPhone App

Powered By InterTech Media, LLC™