Payton proud of Marrone

Bring up the name Doug Marrone and it instantly brings back good memories for Saints head coach Sean Payton.

"That initial staff was special," said Payton Wednesday. "The challenge at that time was we were shortly after Katrina and trying to find coaches with families to come into the region was sometimes difficult. That initial staff, a lot of those guys came with promotions. We weren't winning many jump balls."

Marrone was one who signed on and joined Payton as offensive coordinator and offense line coach. During his stay here from 2006-2008 he tutored players like Jahri Evans and Zach Strief early on in their careers.

"He's a guy that when he got that job I made sure to reach out and tell him 'thank you'," said Stried. "Anyone that kind of comes in contact with a guy that goes on to succeed as well as he has, I think you feel good about being part of that journey."

"I would say technique and body position more than anything else," said Evans referring to the most important thing he learned from Marrone. "He was a real good technician, got me in the right direction and got me going."

Marrone left near the end of the '08 season to become head coach at Syracuse. After four years at his alma mater, he took the Buffalo Bills head coaching job this offseason.

On Sunday he and Payton will be opponents and although he'll try to beat him, Payton said he is proud of his friend.

"It's nice to have guys that were on that initial staff like Doug or Dennis Allen get great opportunities as head coaches. That's something I'm excited about and the organization feels good about."