Payton is hush hush

Published 8:23 pm Friday, December 29, 2006

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton isn’t revealing how much he plans on playing his starters in the regular-season finale against Carolina on Sunday in the Louisiana Superdome.

The Saints are 10-5 and guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game.

Payton said Tuesday that he would consider resting some of his key players against the Panthers. After practice Wednesday he said he had decided on a plan, but wouldn’t reveal it.

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“I hadn’t decided yesterday, but now I have a pretty good handle on what we want to do and how we want to approach the game,” he said. “We are going to approach it to win.

“We’ll do what’s best for our team. It’s an important game. Our players understand that. Their job is to prepare and get ready each week. Our job each week is to get them ready. I’ll make the decision in regards to how much and if any of these guys play aside from the starters.”

Quarterback Drew Brees said Payton hadn’t told the players what his plans are and the team had a typical practice Wednesday. “I’m competitive and want to be a part of it, but then again, we have to be logical and think about what makes sense,” Brees said. “I think obviously from a preparation standpoint, he wants everybody to approach this week like it’s a normal game that we need to win.

“I think from our standpoint, we have an opportunity to win 11 games. How many times do we get that opportunity? I think that everybody here wants to win. In order to win, we need to make sure that we have a great week of practice and preparation. Everybody needs to prepare as if they’re playing.”

Brees said winning is still important even though it won’t affect New Orleans’ postseason circumstances.

“You want to look sharp,” he said. “You want to go out with a win. You feel good after wins. You feel terrible after losses, no matter if it’s preseason or another time. They still mean something.”