Saints say Payton's presence crucial in win - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Saints say Payton's presence crucial in win

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METAIRIE, La. (KNOE 8 News/AP) - Although Sean Payton downplays the role that he alone will play in whatever success the Saints may have this season, his players tell a different story.

Cornerback Jabari Greer says Payton's combination of leadership, confidence and practice habits provided New Orleans with the resilience under pressure it needed to hold on for a season-opening 23-16 victory over the Falcons on Sunday.

Right tackle Zach Strief says Payton's approach since he returned from his bounty suspension has been reminiscent of 2006, when he took over a 3-13 team.

Strief says Payton has employed rigorous conditioning strategies which also test players' mental toughness.

Those lessons have resonated with a team which lost five games last season by eight or fewer points.

New Orleans next plays this Sunday at Tampa Bay.

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