Metairie, La. - The Saints are just days away from their first game of the 2013 season and the new 3-4 defense will be put to the test immediately.
The following are coach Sean Payton's comments to the media after Thursday's practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "Today was (a practice concentrating) on third down like we always do on Thursday. I thought the practice went well."
How much has Junior Galette gotten back to speed after being injured?
"He's doing well. He's practicing fully."
Do you think it will take Galette a lot of time to get back in a rhythm?
"We will see. I think he is doing well. I anticipate him being ready to go."
Do you think this is a different challenge with the different rookies the Falcons have?
"There's one corner (that is) different. You are talking about (Desmond) Trufant. We scouted. We get familiar with these players, obviously when they come out of the draft, particularly the younger players, we spent a lot of time on and liked. He runs exceptionally well. Each year when you play your first game, there are always two, three or four players per team that are playing the first time that you might not have the film background on professionally. You see it in the preseason, but he has played well. He fits in well and I am sure, just like our young players, are anxious to get his feet wet and get involved."
Can you talk about how it is a little different with Osi Umenyiora?
"Another challenging pass rusher."
What are some things about Curtis Lofton have stood out to you and has he had to take on a leadership role now that Jonathan Vilma is out?
"He is now the signal caller. He is now the guy who is playing Mike. He played it a year ago, but I would say yes. He is physical. He is a smart player. He brings that leadership to the room. A guy with experience and a guy that is a very good tackler. He is well built, so in that 3-4 front, you are playing someone over the guard that is uncovered, often times he is taking on a bigger lineman than maybe in a 4-3 scheme. He has handled that transition very well."
Is there too much being made about there not a lot of film of the defense playing a 3-4 yet?
"I think both teams are playing with some things defensively that they haven't a year ago. Atlanta is the same way. Each game takes on a little different shape of its own in regards to the plan for that game. Both defenses, I'm sure, will be in multiple looks."
Is there any reason why you put an emphasis on strength and conditioning this year?
"One of the things we try to do is get bigger, so I would say that. In fact, we just finished talking about it with the front that we are playing, with the people that we look to bring in and then obviously with the players that we have here."
Is that something that you saw from afar?
"It kind of marries to philosophically what we are trying to do."
Do you see all the signs that Cameron Jordan is ready in his role as a 3-4 defensive end?
"He has had a good preseason. He is in good shape. He has played at a very high level, yes. We are real pleased with his production a year ago. It was a bright spot. There wasn't many, but his production was good. I would say, for me, a year removed and watching him this spring and then this training camp, he has been very impressive watching the film. He is in great shape. He plays with a high motor. He is athletic and he is strong."
Can you talk about Marques Colston?
"He is in his eighth season. I know he, like the rest of us, don't pay much attention to, certainly (in) week one of any type of record. But, he has been a very dependable and very sure-handed receiver who is a big target. He is very smart so he knows all the positions. It doesn't seem like it has been eight seasons, but he is on season eight. Each week he has been reliable and a guy that gives us a lot of different options on third down and the red area, very consistent. He has been very consistent."
What do you anticipate from Roddy White?
"They (Atlanta) have great speed at receiver. They are deep. They have guys that can catch the ball well, that can beat you over the top. They are explosive and we are preparing for him just like the others, like he is playing. He is a dynamic player."
Does their offense model your approach or your versatility matchup?
"There are some similarities when you look at their skill people and what I mean by that is, number one it starts with a real good quarterback that's operating at a high level. There is a lot of confidence in the addition of the running back (Steven Jackson) now, it poses problems. They are one of the top offenses in the league and they worked hard to get there. It's not just been one player, it's a culmination of good drafting, good plan, and good scheme, all of those things."
Does it seem that the offensive line can be tested a little bit?
"We will see. Those guys have played well."
Can you talk about your confidence in Charles Brown?