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Week 4 opponent: What the Saints are saying

Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. I also scanned the New Orleans media websites and the Saints website to see what else the Saints players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions.

Here's what they had to say:

1. The Saints haven't had the services of All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas the last two weeks in losses to Oakland and Green Bay. Payton said the biggest thing the Saints offense misses when Thomas isn't on the field is his ability to gain yards after the catch, which Payton said is a really underrated part of his game. It's unclear if Thomas' high-ankle sprain suffered Week 1 will allow him to play Sunday in Detroit.

View photos of the starters for the New Orleans Saints.

2. Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson has caught at least four passes for 50 yards in each of Detroit's first three contests. He's a player the Saints are really looking at and trying to figure out how they're going to match up against his athleticism and skill set. Payton said there are matchup issues with Hockenson, and they have to be really good about knowing where he is and what the run-pass keys are with him in the game.

3. Payton isn't surprised at all about the early success he's seeing from running back Adrian Peterson in the Lions backfield. Peterson played four games in New Orleans in 2017, so Payton's seen him up close. Payton said Peterson is still an explosive runner on film and has great instincts and terrific balance.

4. Saints tackle Terron Armstead was asked about the Saints' 1-2 start and how close he felt they were to turning the corner. He had a pretty honest assessment of their play the last two weeks.

"Bad teams beat themselves and right now that's what we're doing," he said. "We're a bad team. We're beating ourselves. That's the definition of a bad team. The good news is we're more than capable of eliminating those mistakes. We've got time, but there's a sense of urgency to get that going."

5. One of Detroit's three interceptions on defense last week was caught by linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., who also chipped in six tackles, a quarterback hit and two passes defensed. Payton was asked about what Collins brings to Detroit's defense.

"He brings length, he brings versatility," he said. "He's a guy who can cover some of the oddball players that are difficult sometimes for linebackers. He's someone that can run and he has that range across the field to make a big play. He's also a pressure player, someone that can rush the passer. So I'd say that's quite a bit."

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