METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Within the scope of training camp, where both sides of the ball are still doing a bit of experimenting at different positions, the way the Saints are playing defense right now is as about as good as it gets.
"That's every single day at practice," says defensive end Alex Okafor. "We're at the point now where we have so much talent across the board that when we go out there, we're going to compete, and it's going to be a hell of a battle."
"When you play or work against each other, you get used to same calls defensively and offensively, or there are certain things that you can sit on," says Payton.
But now that we're days away from their first preseason matchup against Jacksonville on Thursday, the practice reps come with more of a purpose. They black and gold have to translate what they've excelled at during camp in Metairie to the real games.
"You see formations that are different, splits that are different, concepts that are different, and you quickly have to adjust," says Payton.
"Going up against a different offense, we'll get some new looks and some different things that are going to challenge us," says defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. "But I think that's really what the preseason's about."
With a minimal amount of turnover from last year and upgrades at safety and slot corner, the players feel like they should improve on what was a solid 2017 season for the defense.
"As a defense, we got a taste of what we could do last year," says Okafor. "And we've been blessed to bring most of our guys back. We're just at the tip of the iceberg right now. We're excited every single day to see how much more we can grow."
You can watch the Saints' first preseason action on Fox 8. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time.