Saints-Panthers game feels like a playoff battle
Roman Harper returned to practice on a full basis Thursday as the New Orleans Saints get ready to face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte Sunday.
The Black and Gold are gearing up for a cat fight in Carolina. They can lock up the NFC South and the #2 seed in the playoffs... with a win.
Coach Sean Payton was asked about the Panthers dynamic sack machine duo of Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson who have a combined 17 quarterback takedowns this season.
"They have very good bursts and quickness and then when you combine that with power the elite rushers have that edge speed, but they also can convert at the power, then you find yourself setting for speed and then having to deal with the transitional rush", he responded. "When you look at their hurry and sack totals, they come from both of those elements as well as the inside rush. It is different when you have a guy that does one of those two things, but when they do both of them well like these guys do, then it becomes problematic."
The media has really jumped on the Saints ever since their loss in Seattle, saying they can't win away from the Superdome. Having that disappointing defeat in St. Louis really emphasized the point, and Payton was asked if losing those two road contests damaged his team's confidence at all.
"I don't think so. I think there are games where we can point to where we didn't play very well," he said. "I think it is more than anything else; it forces you as coaches, as players to look closely at hey, what can I do to improve how we play when we travel."
And Payton was asked with so much at stake in this game for his team, is it almost like the playoffs have come a bit early?
"Yes I think that atmosphere there will be much like that, a crowd that is really loud and recognizes the significance of the game and I think both teams approaching it in a lot of ways without some of the other distractions that might come up in the postseason. I think it is that important of a game and so I think the players understand that."
The Saints will practice one more time today before flying out to Carolina on Saturday. The weather forecast for game day is currently 72 degrees at Bank of America Stadium with a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms.
Raphael Bush did not practice for the 2nd straight day while Josh Hill and Keyunta Dawson were limited participants once again for the Saints.