New Orleans Saints defense looks to fine-tune pass rush as Detroit Lions game nears _lowres

Associated Press photo by JONATHAN BACHMAN -- New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette bears down on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon during the second half of their game Oct. 5. Galette said the Saints are looking for ways to tweak their pass rush.

Outside linebacker Junior Galette said one of his self-evaluations during the Saints bye week included his complimentary pass-rushing skills.

The way he sees it, Galette said Thursday, he needs to improve them.

For example, Glenn Foster (speed rusher) doesn’t attack quarterbacks the same way as Akiem Hicks (bull rusher).

Two guys running up the field creates a running lane for a quarterback. Two bull rushers can cause the same problem.

“They’re two completely different rushers,” Galette said of the defensive ends. “You might win and beat your man, but depending on what he’s doing (next to me), it might be a loss because the quarterback steps up.”

Galette said he noticed this on game film too many times. It’s a problem Galette — who leads the Saints defense with three sacks — said the defense has addressed as the Saints (2-3) prepare to play at Detroit (4-2) on Sunday.

Perhaps it’s why Galette added that this week’s practice, coupled with last week’s time away from football, has rejuvenated the unit, leading to what he expects to be a formible effort against the Lions.

“We’re going to do a lot of mixes,” Galette said.

Defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Tyrunn Walker, as well as strong safety Kenny Vaccaro, have one sack apiece, giving the Saints defense six sacks.

Payton ‘optimistic’ on Graham

Saints coach Sean Payton wasn’t content Thursday with acknowledging that All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) would miss Sunday’s game at Detroit.

Payton went as far as to counter a question about how the Saints offense would plan for Week 7 without Graham by answering “I’m optimistic” about Graham’s ability to be healthy enough to play.

Later Thursday, Graham was listed as a limited participant at practice. The team drills section of Saints practice is closed to media.

Graham injured his shoulder Oct. 5 against Tampa Bay. After treating his injury during the bye week, Graham also missed Wednesday’s practice.

The best-laid plans ...

Even the best plays in one game don’t transfer to another.

Payton told a story Thursday about the coaching preparation days before the Saints traveled to Philadelphia for last season’s NFC wild-card playoff game.

The coaching staff watched Oklahoma run an “unbalanced, short motion reverse” during a 45-31 win against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. At the time, the Saints were working on the practice script for the next day.

“We were in a race to see how could we get that play off the TV feed,” Payton said.

“Sure enough, we put it in and gained a yard against the Eagles.”

Injury update

Cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) and inside linebackers Ramon Humber (ankle) and Kyle Knox (ankle) missed practice for the second time this week. Also missing practice was outside linebacker Ronald Powell (illness), running back Pierre Thomas (illness) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (toe). For Detroit, All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) did not practice, along with running back Theo Riddick (hamstring), tight ends Eric Ebron (hamstring) and Joseph Fauria (ankle) and linebacker Travis Lewis (quadricep). Running back Reggie Bush (ankle) and defensive end Ziggy Ansah (toe) were limited.