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Saints Think Best Is Yet To Come

Courtesy—Les East/neworleans.com

Despite a series of injuries and a pair of losses to prohibitive underdogs (Arizona and Cleveland), the New Orleans Saints aren’t satisfied with a 6-3 record, but they are optimistic as they take a two-game winning streak into their bye week.

The players were available for interviews Tuesday afternoon for the last time before taking off for a five-day break. They’ll return to practice next Monday to begin preparations for their next game – Nov. 21 against Seattle in the Superdome.

“I feel so unsatisfied still to this point with what we’ve accomplished,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “There’s always adversity in every season and it comes in different forms. Last year it didn’t come until maybe the last three games that we lost. This year it came earlier than maybe what we thought. I think you add that to the high expectations it made it kind of tough to deal with the back and forth and the inconsistency but I feel like we’ve weathered a good part of the storm.

“Hey there are going to be tough moments ahead where we’re still going to have to fight through something and we know that but I like to think that what has happened this part of the season has allowed us to be battled tested and ready for whatever is in our future.”

What’s in the immediate future is an opportunity to rest, heal up, reflect, and adjust for the stretch run.

“I feel like our best football is ahead of us,” Brees said. “I’d like to see it start right when we get back. I feel like it has scaled up as we’ve played these last two weeks, especially. And when you talk about adding the full arsenal of weapons on both side of the ball, that certainly helps too.”

INJURY UPDATE: RB Reggie Bush, who has missed the last seven games because of a fractured fibula, said he’s confident he’ll be able to play against the Seattle Seahawks. He said he felt like he could have played against Carolina, but understood why the coaches and the medical team were cautious.

“Obviously they didn’t miss me,” he said in reference to the lopsided 34-3 victory. …

RB Chris Ivory, who suffered a sprained AC joint and slight separation of his shoulder against the Panthers, said he’s trying to be back for the Seattle game. …

RB Pierre Thomas, who has missed the last six games because of a sprained ankle, left the training room on crutches with his injured foot in a boot, but didn’t enter the locker room where reporters were. Coach Sean Payton said he’s hopeful Thomas can return to practice next week. …

TE Jeremy Shockey also stayed out of the locker room, but Payton said even though Shockey has ribs that are bruised “pretty significantly,” he’s hopeful Shockey can return soon.

“He has a lot of soreness right down in the lower portion of his ribcage,” Payton said. “Resting that is going to be important and padding it and avoiding contact to that area.”

GRAHAM STEPS UP: Rookie TE Jimmy Graham’s best game coincided with Shockey’s injury. He caught three passes, including his first NFL touchdown reception.

“He just keeps getting better,” Payton said. “The one catch that was even more impressive than the touchdown was the third-and-seven or eight that he caught down below his knees. He’s a tremendous worker; he’s very smart; he’s very athletic and he has soft hands.

“We just have to keep giving him opportunities. It was good to see him come out and make some plays for us because those were big plays. Obviously the touchdown was a big play and the third down conversion was significant. He plays with a lot of confidence. You don’t see a first-year player in his eyes on the sideline or in the huddle, and that’s encouraging.”

Graham, who was sidelined by an ankle injury during the preseason, said he used the down time to study a lot of film.

“I definitely think things are slowing down for me,” Graham said, “and that’s the biggest thing is being able to recognize what’s going on out there, being more confident and knowing what’s going on within our offense.”

Graham said he comes in on his off day on Tuesday and studies a different tight end each week, one of which has been Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall of Famer who, like Graham, started out as a basketball player.

“He’s one of the best tight ends to ever play the game and he changed the game for people like me,” Graham said of Gonzales. “So I pick up everything from him because he’s so talented.”

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