Saints, Vikings release first injury reports before NFC Divisional Playoffs

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NOTE: The Saints placed OL Andrus Peat on injured reserve and signed OL Bryce Harris.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS WEDNESDAY INJURY REPORT

Did not practice

WR Brandon Coleman (neck)

Limited Practice

TE Michael Hoomanawanui (back)

LT Terron Amstead (thigh)

DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle)

DT Sheldon Rankins (ankle)

CB P.J. Williams (ankle)

DE Cameron Jordan (knee)

DT David Onyemata (thumb)

MINNESOTA VIKINGS INJURY REPORT

Limited Practice

NT Shamar Stephen (ankle)

CB Terence Newman (foot)

Full Practice

TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle)

FB C.J. Ham (neck)

S Anthony Harris (knee)

CB Xavier Rhodes (foot)

C Pat Elflein (shoulder)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How do you think dealing with the crowd noise is going to be in Minnesota?

“I think anytime you go on the road especially in a playoff atmosphere in an indoor environment, I think it’s one of those challenges you have to work hard at all during the week, the focus both in the run game and the passing game, how you motion, when you choose to move guys around. It’s going to require the poise and attention to detail during the week.”

You guys haven’t had many false start penalties this year, I think you have the fewest in the league. Is there any other obvious discipline or focus? Is there any particular reason for that?

“That is a good question. One road game that was a neutral, when you think about London that was kind of a not too loud (environment). I think out in L.A., it is not a loud place.  Some of the venues we play (aren’t as loud). But this will be the loudest, clearly the loudest environment we play in this year.”

Do you have to change your approach at all with a guy like Xavier Rhodes on their defense?

“When you say change your approach, I think what you have to do is look closely at your formations. You line a guy up way outside the numbers and he’s a tremendous corner. He’s someone that can get his hands on you. He’s real physical at the line of scrimmage, playing with a lot of confidence. I think you have to be smart when you’re throwing in that direction and you have to understand his leverage and what coverage they’re playing behind it.”

Your offensive line has been really good this year, proven to be really versatile but what were some of the struggles maybe in that first game obviously having to deal with (Zach) Strief’s injury and (Terron) Armstead not playing?

“When you fall behind and you get in that game where it’s a little bit more one-dimensional, that becomes hard especially there. I thought the other thing that hurt us is that we settled for field goals in some early drives, really much like Carolina did in this past game against us. We had scoring opportunities and weren’t able to take advantage of (them). Defensively and offensively, they did a ton of good things to beat us.”

Speaking of field goals, can you reflect a little bit on Wil Lutz and obviously he’s coming off making a good kick in this last game and his progression up until now from the time you got him?

“He is playing well. He is kicking well. We get to see more of it maybe than you do. The concern when you’re attempting a field goal at that length is two-fold, the flight is going to be different which means it is more prone for a block. And if you do not capitalize on it, the field position (becomes unfavorable). I thought he had some good hits last week in practice. We watch him kick each day. You can kind of see how the ball is taking off his foot. That was a great kick.”

They had Sam Bradford at quarterback last time now they have Case Keenum, what have you guys seen out of them in 15 games or so?

“He is playing well. You can see him getting the ball to a lot of different guys. These guys I think have done a great job on offense. I think they are playing a game really that suits both sides of the ball. When you start looking at their statistics, they are getting the ball down the field so they are getting their chuck plays. They are (ranked in the) top 10 in rushing. Scoring the same way. I think they have done a great job with play action. But the thing that is impressive about him, not only on the spot but off the spot, is his location when he is moving. We followed, it just seems like all we’ve seen prior to studying this week was Vikings tape because they had played the Falcons, they had played Carolina. We were just watching a lot of their tape over the last month and it has been impressive. Those guys have done a really good job and coaches have done a great job with them.”

What do you think of Kyle Rudolph?

“I think he’s a tremendous talent. I think he’s a big part of what they do. I think again, watching where this quarterback goes and how he targets players. I think he gives you someone through the defense. I think he’s someone that can get on a safety or linebacker and give you problems.”

Are he and (Greg) Olsen similar or different?

“I would say similar in that they are very important to their team. And yet there are some different styles to how they play.”

When you look at the Vikings defense, especially on third down, how have they been so successful defending on third down?

“I think a couple of things. Number one, you’re getting a real good pass rush so the time to throw is quicker. Number two, you have an extremely talented back end, the corners as well as the safeties. Then I would say a pressure package that causes you problems with linebackers up in the A-gaps, slot pressure, strong safety blitz. You start factoring those things in and then you take a good scheme with real good players, great players and then you end up with the number one defense in the league. In other words, Zim’s (Mike Zimmer) coached that package for a long time now and created havoc with people and now all of a sudden you have Pro Bowl safeties, Pro Bowl corners, you have a pass rush and it’s pretty much the formula when you talk about a great defense. It is the talent. It’s the coaching. All those facets.”

What kind of role does Harrison Smith play just in that defense?

“He’s everywhere. He’s a great tackler. He plays in the back end, back half, back quarter, middle third. He’ll play down. Those safeties are asked to do a lot.”

Did you get a chance to hear the song about your locker room dance, and if so what’d you think about it?

“No, I’ve heard just a snippet about it last night just about 1:30 a.m. when we were taking a break. I wasn’t able to hear it all. I was overwhelmed. (Zach) Strief named a beer after me (and I get) a song in the same two weeks.”

In what ways have you seen Marshon Lattimore grow since that first game?

“Just the playing reps, formations, technique. All the things a young player gets that can only get with experience. He’s receiving the chance to get out there and defend a reduced split, defend a wide split, defend a stack, a bunch, a motion to a stack, play cloud, play off. All those things that come with all the oddball formations in our league.”

What kind of challenge does this duo of receivers present?

“They’re talented. One’s (Adam Thielen) going to the Pro Bowl. The other guy (Stefon Diggs) takes the top coverage, he’s fantastic himself. They do a real good job of finding ways to get them open. The quarterback (Case Keenum) is playing real well.

I wanted to circle back to kickers and the psychology of kicking. How do you view Wil Lutz in that light?

“I think it is the same psychology you have if you are a receiver and corner or quarterback. You have to feel confident. Confidence comes from behavior demonstrated. You have to have that routine. Although it seems to focus around one swing. I think it’s that mentality you have to go out there and put a freaking arrow through them. I think sometimes that breaks guys. But I think in his case, it’s definitely an asset.”

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In what ways have you seen growth from the Saints secondary since that first match-up?

“Obviously, I think (Marshon) Lattimore and (P.J.) Williams are playing a lot better. They seem to be playing tighter coverage and don’t seem to be giving up big plays.”

How much of a role do you think the noise of your stadium can play on Sunday?

“I hope it is a lot. Our stadium is pretty loud and hopefully our fans will be excited to get in there and help us in this game.”

Could you expand on that answer and in light of how Drew Brees communicates pre-snap how the noise could affect him?

“It changes all the time. I’m sure this isn’t the first time Drew has been in a loud place. I’m sure he will be fine.”

What do you see from Cameron Jordan coming off his best season of his career and the growth of his game?

“It is hard for me to talk about the growth of his game because I haven’t studied him for a number of years, but he is a great player, very active, excellent strength, good quickness, uses his hands well and I think he has great body leverage. He gives you a full day’s work.”

When you worked with Sean Payton, did you guys ever compare notes on offense or defense?

“Oh yes, sure. We were on the same staff and there were lots of times when we would sit down and talk about how to play this or this play’s tough or that play’s hard or whatever. It was quite a while ago, but yes.”

Do you have relationships like that with a lot of coaches or were you able to learn something from him at that specific time?

“Well, when you are on staffs together, you are always communicating with each other and how you play certain things. You talk about things that are tough on each guy and I don’t think it is any different than any other staff.”

Are there any similarities between you two (Sean Payton)?

“We are pretty opposite I think. Sean is a great guy and a heck of a coach. You would have to ask him how I am, I don’t know.”

When you say pretty opposite, what was the first thing you were thinking that was opposite between the two of you?

“He is a lot more outgoing then I am.”

How different are both of these teams since week one? Either in personnel or how they play?

“I don’t know. They (media) say they are different so I guess they are different.”

You guys have a different quarterback and a different starting running back.

“Yes. We are probably a little different too. I don’t think anyone going into the season thought we would be 13-3 and playing in the divisional round of the playoffs. We lost a quarterback, we lost a running back and we lost some offensive lineman. We did end up fairly healthy on defense. We lost a long snapper. I think everybody is different at this time of the year. I think every team has changed some.”

What is the biggest thing that catches your eye about the Saints’ changes?

“Sean (Payton) has run this offense for a long time and Drew Brees has been there for a long time so a lot of that stuff’s very similar. Obviously, (Alvin) Kamara’s been a factor. But you are talking 16 weeks ago, there are a lot of things that change time and time and Sean has a huge playbook and he runs different plays and he probably finds plays he likes best with the particular group that he has and that is what good coaches do.”

How has your defense been able to hold opposing teams to such a low third down rate?

“We have good players. They play good.”

Has Sean Payton been a pretty emotional coach on gameday?

“Yeah, I guess so. I didn’t much pay much attention to him on game day. I had my own job to do. I don’t know how you want me to answer that.”

Do you see Sean on the sidelines this year and see some of his emotions and laugh at him because you know him or do you say that guy is in a really weird place right now?

“I really don’t judge other people. I just let them be them and hopefully I will just be me. I don’t judge and honestly I don’t pay that much attention what he has done on the sideline or anything else. Sometimes in today’s media you hear about or whatever, but it is not something I dwell on. I am more concerned about Drew Brees, Cameron Jordan and players that they have, (Alvin) Kamara and (Mark) Ingram. Those are the things I’m worried about.”

What is your overall evaluation of Cameron Jordan?

“Okay, I’ll say it again. I think he is a very aggressive guy, good athlete, has great strength, good body control and uses his hands well. He is a full day affair.”

How can that nobody believes in us factor add motivation for a team?

“I don’t think at this point in the game, I don’t think any of stuff that matters. It is about how we execute this Sunday. It’s about how we prepare today, tomorrow and Friday and how we go out and play. If you need extra motivation to play in a divisional game, then you are probably looking at the wrong things.”

Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum

Conference call with New Orleans Media

January 10, 2018

What’s your history with Drew Brees? Have you ever met him or picked his brain?

“Yes, we met a couple times. Just through some different stuff, other conferences and just playing around the league so yes, I’ve known him for a while.”

What’s your impression of him?

“Great player, even better human being. He’s obviously a guy I’ve looked up to for a long time. I study him just about every offseason just looking at things that he does well mechanically, decision making. An elite guy that has been playing at a really high level for a really long time. Plus he’s from Texas, you know Texas quarterback thing there. We have some pride coming from Texas.”

Do you study all of the game’s top quarterbacks every offseason? Or is there a reason you study Drew specifically?

“Yes, I study a lot of guys. Drew I think is one that I definitely like to every year, just similar build. I love the way he plays the game. I love the way he’s a leader. A lot of great things he does that I’ve learned from in the past.”

What was your role in that week one game? Was it anything besides being prepared if Sam (Bradford) went down?

“I didn’t play that week.”

How much were you breaking down Saints film? What kind of things were on your plate?

“Yes, I get ready every week like I’m playing as a backup that week. I had to be ready to go if my name was called and that’s where I was. I did everything I normally do, just didn’t take those practice reps.”

Since you’ve been playing, why do you think you’ve been so efficient?

“A lot of things. Being smart with the football, giving my guys the chance down the field, trying to get us in the right play, just being a smart quarterback and putting our team in good chances to win. And we’ve done that more than we have not. I think it is important to do.”

Where does U.S. Bank Stadium rank on the list of loudest places to play in the National Football League?

It’s pretty loud. I haven’t tried to call a play in there while being an opposing quarterback so I couldn’t tell you really how it is. Just the experience of playing as the opposing quarterback in there. I would say it’s pretty similar to the Saints’ stadium there, Mercedes Benz (Superdome) in New Orleans. I know that place gets loud and crazy. I’m expecting another really loud one this week.”

Cam Jordan, curious of your impression of what he does well and how he tries to inject his personality in the games. What are your thoughts on him.

“I didn’t see a lot of that. I saw a little bit of the special that he did last week and obviously watched the film so I know he’s a really talented player. Creates a lot of havoc in the back field and run or pass game. A guy that we need to know where he’s at, at all times and account for him. They’ve done really well, a team that’s been really big on sacks and turnovers. It’s something that we have to protect the football.”

Anything about him in particular stand out as a defensive end, whether it’s his size, speed, getting his hands up, stuff like that?

“All of the above. When he doesn’t get home on a pass rush, his hands are up and he has batted a lot of balls too. A guy like that, you have to know where he’s at, at all times. We call them game wreckers and he’s got the ability to do that. We have to make sure that we have a plan for him.”

Have you ever met his father around the facility at all? You probably are aware that Cam Jordan’s dad, Steve Jordan, was a Pro Bowl tight end.

“Yes, I knew he was around here. I’ve heard stories about him even as a kid being around here. But no I haven’t met him.”

How much have you liked your matchup with your top two receivers with most teams this season?

“We have talented guys outside, we really do. Adam’s (Thielen) done a heck of a job this year making some big plays for us. And so has Stefon Diggs. They’re both guys that know what to do on every play and play really hard. (They) Are guys that I trust and I have a lot of chemistry (and) a lot of trust with those guys. I’m excited to see those guys play in the postseason.”

What sticks out about the Saints secondary on tape?

“They’ve really come together. I know they had some injuries since we played them last but I mean starting with (Marshon) Lattimore, he’s not a rookie anymore. He has a full season under his belt. He’s playing at a really, really high level and he’s played some really, really talented receivers, especially down there in the NFC South. He’s put some impressive stuff on the film. Another guy like Cam (Jordan), we have to know where he’s at. On the back end, two safeties they’re in the right spots a lot of the times and they have some good guys fill in and do a good job for them on the other side of the field too. We have our work cut out for us. We have to protect the ball because obviously they’ve created a lot of turnovers, gotten a lot of interceptions so I need to be smart with where I put the football.”

After the early parts of your career bouncing between starter, backup and different teams, what’s this going to be like for you to be out there on Sunday in this divisional game?

“You have to ask me afterwards but I’m excited. It is going to be a great atmosphere. Not many people get these opportunities so I’m going to take advantage of it and I’m going to play just like I play every week, like it could be my last game. I’m going to put everything I’ve got into it.”

I hate to ask this, I know everybody’s been talking about it all week, how much does playoff experience matter for a starter?

“I guess a lot. I’m excited that I’m going to start getting some experience. I think experience in general is great. I know for us this is a great game and it’s a playoff game but it is a football game and I’ve played a lot of football. I’ve got experience with that and I’m going to take that with me and use it this week.”

What’s Kyle Rudolph meant to the offense?

“Kyle’s a great player. He’s another true pro, pro’s pro. Does a great job knowing the game plan in and out. He’s a great target. He’s a security blanket I know I can always get him the ball and get him a chance. I know he’s always going to make plays for us. We count on him a lot in crucial situations.”

About Steve Jordan, you said you had heard about him and Cameron (Jordan). Did anything in particular stand out or do they have pictures on the walls, in the locker room?  I know a lot of the old Saints Pro Bowlers have photos in the hallways of the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Just that his dad was a great player. I know he was involved here with the team and with the chaplain. He (chaplain) was the guy that told me about him. He was a great player and a great person and a lot of guys looked up to him. He did some great things around here. He has an incredible reputation. Anybody like that that’s come before you, you have a lot of respect for those people and obviously not knowing Cameron very well but knowing his dad, I’m sure he has a lot of the same qualities.”

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