2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints say Payton's presence a factor in victory

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-09 18:32

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - From his bright orange shorts to the smile with which he greeted reporters, Sean Payton looked about as cheerful as a man in a high-pressure job can be on a Monday.

It helps when you win on Sunday, which is exactly what the Saints did in what also marked their head coach's first meaningful game since his one-season bounty ban ended last winter.

Payton downplays his role in whatever success the Saints may have this season, but his players tell a different story.

``It's less about him being on the sideline for the game and more about him being here for an entire offseason and a preseason,'' right tackle Zach Strief said, adding that Payton's approach this year has resembled what he did when he first arrived in 2006.

That year, Payton took over a team that had gone 3-13 a year earlier. He wanted to see a significant culture change. One way he did that, Strief said, was by giving players the sense that just about all of their jobs were up for grabs, creating more competition. He also pushed players physically and mentally, sometimes by making them run more sprints than usual when they seemed to be allowing the grind of camp to render them more sluggish.

``When you as a player get deep into camp, you get this feeling of: `It's too much, it's too hard, we went too many days in a row.' And as soon as you felt that way in camp this year, he pushed - harder,'' Strief said. ``It's not even for conditioning, but what it does mentally is says: As soon as your mind thinks there's no way, you train your mind that, yes, there is a way and yes I can do it.''

Several players also commented on Payton's intense sideline demeanor on Sunday, particularly those like new tight end Ben Watson, who hadn't really seen Payton's piercing game-day glare, his highly animated body language or the commanding way he barks orders.

``He's like a player. He goes into his different zone. I was warned about his zone that he goes into, so I was prepared,'' Watson said. ``He's intense, very intense, very focused.''

As far as conditioning goes, Payton is walking the walk. The gray workout shirt he wore Monday hugged the contours of his torso, chiseled from the CrossFit workout routine he adopted in the past year. That routine also inspired some of the competitive conditioning games he set up between groups of players during the offseason - and it is hard to find a player in the locker room who doesn't say he didn't end up working harder to get in shape this year than last.

Payton's emphasis on physical and mental toughness resonated with players who were part of the 2012 Saints. That team lost five games by eight or fewer points in what wound up a disappointing 7-9 season.

Sure enough, the Saints found themselves in a tight game with Atlanta on Sunday which tested their resilience in the fourth quarter. They narrowly escaped with 23-17 victory, thanks in large part to a defense which held firm deep in its own territory in the final minute.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks saw more action in that game than he anticipated because of an injury to fellow lineman Tyrunn Walker, but said he was prepared for it because of Payton's approach to the offseason.

``Not only can you feel your body in better shape and more conditioned, but mentally you know you've been through more strain than that,'' Hicks said. ``So you're saying to yourself, `I've been to this plateau and I can exceed that.'''

Added cornerback Jabari Greer: ``Ultimately, coach Payton is the leader of our team. ... Having him back - his leadership and his practice habits - it definitely prepared us for finishing in the fourth quarter.''

The indoor practice field where Payton met reporters was warmer than usual, and Payton seemed to be joking when he said with a smile that it was because his team needed to become acclimatized to late summer conditions in Tampa Bay, where the Saints will play this Sunday.

Several minutes later, however, he delivered a comment in a more declarative tone that left some doubt about whether he really was kidding.

``We will get a good test here this week, going on the road in a place that, at this time of the year, can be pretty hot.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Aldon SmithApr 17 09:32p

The San Francisco 49ers do not plan on releasing LB Aldon Smith this offseason. Smith is expected to be suspended at the beginning of the season, but the length [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 17 08:52p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee) said he expects to receive medical clearance to resume football activities in the near future. He underwent knee surgery in January but [ More ]

Sebastian VollmerApr 17 08:42p

New England Patriots OG Logan Mankins said OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg) has looked good this offseason while he recovers from the broken leg he suffered during the 2013 season.

Chris SneeApr 17 07:32p

New York Giants OG Chris Snee (hip, elbow) is expected to participate when offseason workouts begin next week even though he is not 100 percent.

Rolando McClainApr 17 06:02p

The Baltimore Ravens reinstated LB Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list Thursday, April 17.

Russell AllenApr 17 05:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars released LB Russell Allen, WR Jabin Sambrano and DEs Will Pericak and D'Aundre Reed Thursday, April 17.

Chad JohnsonApr 17 02:22p

Free-agent WR Chad Johnson (Patriots) signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League Thursday, April 17.

Brian CushingApr 17 01:32p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee) was medically cleared Thursday, April 17.

LaMichael JamesApr 17 10:04a

According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping RB LaMichael James. He finds himself behind RBs Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on [ More ]

Mike BrownApr 16 11:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Brown signed his exclusive-rights free agent deal Wednesday, April 16.

Eli ManningApr 16 11:33p

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in a radio interview this week that it is 'ludicrous' to say QB Eli Manning is declining. 'There's been no [ More ]

Sidney RiceApr 16 08:03p

The Seattle Seahawks are re-signing WR Sidney Rice to an undisclosed one-year deal Wednesday, April 16, according to sources.

Dwayne BoweApr 16 07:03p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty Wednesday, April 16, after being arrested last November for marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective [ More ]

Arian FosterApr 16 04:53p

The Houston Texans may consider selecting a running back during the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft that could become RB Arian Foster's backup in the future.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 04:43p

The New York Jets signed RB Chris Johnson to a two-year deal worth $8 million, with another $1 million in incentives available.

Terrelle PryorApr 16 04:33p

The Oakland Raiders hope to trade QB Terrelle Pryor before the start of the offseason program Monday, April 21.

Clay MatthewsApr 16 04:13p

Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews (thumb) said he likely will be limited during offseason workouts because of his surgically repaired thumb.

Chris JohnsonApr 16 03:53p

The New York Jets will use RBs Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory as a tandem this upcoming season and have them split carries. RB Bilal Powell will be the team's No. 3 running back.

Dan SkutaApr 16 03:33p

San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta (foot) is not expected to need surgery on the foot injury that bothered him during the 2013 season. Skuta met with a foot [ More ]

Gus BradleyApr 16 02:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley watched Georgia QB Aaron Murray participate in his pro day Wednesday, April 16.

Reggie BushApr 16 02:13p

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said RBs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell likely will receive similar workloads this upcoming season than they did during the 2013 season. Bush [ More ]

Cheta OzougwuApr 16 01:53p

The Chicago Bears have waived DE Cheta Ozougwu.

Mike JamesApr 16 12:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Mike James (ankle) said he is happy with the progress he has made in his recovery from an ankle injury and that he has been [ More ]

Carson PalmerApr 16 12:43p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer said he would understand if the team selects a quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, because he knows the team has to think about [ More ]

Josh FreemanApr 16 12:23p

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Vikings). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:13p

Updating previous reports, retired LB Rolando McClain failed his conditioning tests during his workout with the Baltimore Ravens. The test consisted of six timed 150-yard runs.

Golden TateApr 16 10:53a

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate said he thinks he can be a 'more explosive Lance Moore,' referring to the former New Orleans Saints receiver. Moore caught 65 passes for [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group