Rob Ryan simplified his playbook last during last week’s 20-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings and many of the issues that plagued this defense evaporated.
The communication issues went away, and so did the coverage breakdowns that defined losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns during the first two weeks of the season. But there’s still one area where he’s seeking improvement: turnovers.
After empahsizing the need to take the ball away with greater frequency all offseason, the Saints currently have one takeaway — a Jairus Byrd strip of Julio Jones in Week 1.
“Right now, man, nobody is doing worse than the Ryan brothers (at creating turnovers),” Ryan said, referencing his brother Rex’s New York Jets team, which has manufactured two turnovers. “We like to say we’re two of the best coaches, and I believe that, I know that. We’re doing everything we can to do it but we have to do more. There’s got to be something more out there.”
The Saints continue to emphasize creating turnovers in practice by going through ball strip and tip drills, and believe that more opportunities can be created by speeding up the quarterback’s release and getting a better population to the ball.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro pointed out one missed opportunity in last week’s game against Minnesota when linebacker Ramon Humber tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage that hit the turf right before him.
“The more pressure we keep getting, the ball is going to fly up in the air like it did last game,” Vaccaro said. “Someone is going to get that ball. I should have got that ball. I thought Corey (White) was going to get it. We thought we were going to run into each other. I should have kept going.”
As long as the opportunities keep presenting themselves — and they could this week against a Dallas team that has turned the ball over seven times in three games — the Saints believe they will eventually take advantage.
After reportedly suffering a high ankle sprain during last week’s 20-9 win over Minnesota, center Jonathan Goodwin participated in Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Goodwin was initially expected to miss a few weeks while recovering, but he appeared to be moving well during the portion of practice open to the media. If he is unable to play, Tim Lelito will likely start at center.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson was a new addition to the injury report, as he missed Friday’s practice and is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Tight end Benjamin Watson (groin) and linebacker David Hawthorne (ankle/knee) are also listed as questionable.
Linebacker Curtis Lofton (shoulder) is listed as probable.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham enjoys playing in Dallas, but he cautioned that AT&T Stadium is full of distractions and that they can be hard for players to avoid.
“That (scoreboard) screen is pretty distracting, and then the cheerleaders on each end of the field — there’s a lot going on there,” Graham said. “When you walk out to the field, you walk through a club or something. It’s definitely entertaining.” ... The NFL did not fine Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn for suplexing Saints quarterback Drew Brees in last week’s game. Munnerlyn told reporters in Minnesota on Friday that officials who flagged him for roughing the passer on the play got the call wrong.