When Sunday rolls around, the New Orleans Saints will be facing off with the Chicago Bears in the Superdome and hoping not to start out the season in an 0-2 hole. Coach Sean Payton spoke with the media on Thursday regarding the teams’ approach to the Bears and also the injuries facing the black and gold.
The injury report listed on Thursday had only a handful of names on it and none of them really that surprising except for cornerback Tracy Porter who is dealing with a calf/ankle problem. Payton was asked on when his injury occurred as well as the status of defensive tackle Tom Johnson.
“I think it’s something that came in practice and it wasn’t really significant initially and we just have to see. Tom’s been battling the calf, and in Tracy’s case, I just want to give these guys a day to see where we’re at with rest.
We think he’s (Johnson) closer than further away in regards to getting back on the field. It’s one of those injuries though that if you hurry it back then you can get set back with it so we have to be cautious.”
Wide receiver Devery Henderson played a big role in the offense against Green Bay in the opener. With Marques Colston out and Lance Moore‘s status still unknown, Payton was asked about Henderson’s role.
“It was significant and we’ve seen him play well going back as far as 2009 and the Super Bowl. I don’t know specifically but I think most of our players feel like in the offseason when they evaluate where they’re at and this season was a little different, but we do studies and have chances to point out the things in the evaluation process with all our players. But he did play well and he’s been practicing well and he’s been healthy all during training camp. I think all those things combined have helped really get him off to the good start he had on Thursday night.”
Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice Thursday after the sudden passing of his mother. Many feel this may be a very emotional game for him and his teammates in the thought they will rally behind him.
“Again, that would be something that we would have no control over. Our focus is opening up at home in front of our fans and playing well at home and making the improvements from last week. I think we really spend a lot of time trying to focus on the things that we have control over. We control how well we practice on Wednesday and Thursday, we control tomorrow’s practice and the meetings and making sure that we point out all the specific things that we feel like it takes to win this game.
The other stuff we can’t control and we certainly recognize the challenge we have with this team we’re playing. This is a team that won their division a year ago. It’s a team that played in the NFC Championship game. It’s a team that has been very successful during Lovie (Smith’s) tenure and has great tradition. We understand the challenge of playing this team. This team has won their last four away games inside in domes. They travel well and generally when teams travel well they play good defense and they’re able to run the football well and that’s the case with Chicago.”
In the opening game, Drew Brees took a number of hits from the Packers’ defense and that certainly has to change and immediately. Coach Payton was asked about the offensive line and how they are preparing for a strong Bears’ defense.
“You start with personnel. You start with a guy like (Julius) Peppers and you want to make sure that you understand where he’s at. Typically he lines up to our left and the defense’s right, and yet he’ll come over to the other side and play snaps on our right. When you have a pass rusher like him, and we’ve seen him just because he’s coming from Carolina, you start with making sure you have an awareness of where he is at all times.
I think you look at your launch points and making sure you have some change up protections so that you’re not just sitting in one protection. I think the importance of first and second down is critical against this team. If you’re efficient on those early downs then you can help yourself and maybe help take the stress off the third and longer situations. Those would be checklists that we all have offensively as you prepare to play a team like this and then you begin to put the plan together with your personnel.”
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