Higher stakes but business as usual

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Metairie, La. — Drew Brees and Sean Payton have the championship experience, and they are setting the tone on how to handle the playoffs.

“They’ve been there,” said Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. “They’ve been to that mountain top so they’re not going to come in here and do anything differently or go about things in a special way. They know what it takes to get there and that’s hard work and that’s continuing to do what we’ve done all year, which is attack each team with a great plan and execute.”

The game week preparation may have stayed the same for the Saints, but the stakes haven’t. And they know that.

“Guys have played many years in this league have never been in this position,” said Saints running back Mark Ingram. “They have never been to a playoff so you just have to have a higher sense of urgency, higher sense of preparation– everything. All the details matter. Everything small matters. Pretty much, you can be beat, man. If you’re not playing till the fat lady sings, till there’s zeros on the clock, you can be beat. We’ve got to do everything this week to prepare ourselves to have our best game, our best performance and continue to improve.”

For the rookies, this is a whole new chapter. And as much as they may get advice from the veterans, there’s still the element of the unknown.

“I kind of feel, like Sean Payton was saying, don’t change anything,” said Saints rookie wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith. “I’m going to kind of want to treat it like a normal game, but knowing that if you lose this one there’s no next one. So I’m kind of in between how I’m going to treat this game. I just know it’s much more serious.”

“All the older guys say it’s pretty much the same as a normal week,” said Saints offensive lineman Will Clapp. “Every week everybody’s on the line and we’re all playing for our jobs.”


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