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Saints' Payton eyes lineup moves

The SportsXchange

After a loss that left the New Orleans Saints losing both the NFC South title and a first-round playoff bye, coach Sean Payton said Monday he was pondering lineup changes.

The Saints stumbled to a 27-16 loss against the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday, and New Orleans travels to Carolina on Sunday to face the Panthers. New Orleans (10-4) would wrap up the division championship with a win, while Carolina (10-4) would take command of the NFC South if it prevails.

"Listen, I think we're looking closely at every element," Payton said. "You know, I told the players today in the team meeting we're looking closely at each aspect of this team.

"I just think it's important for us to do that. Whether it's (the kicker), the tackle position, whether it's a player on defense ... we're going to look closely at what our options are and what gives us the best chance."

The tackle Payton references was left tackle Charles Brown, who was benched in the third quarter at St. Louis. Brown committed two penalties, gave up two sacks, and allowed a hit on Drew Brees that contributed to the quarterback throwing an interception.

Right tackle Zach Strief moved to left tackle, and Bryce Harris took over on the right side.

"It was one aspect that I think we needed to change during the flow of that game," Payton said of Brown. "In fairness to him, I think there were a lot of things we didn't do well in that game."

Payton wasn't as diplomatic in his comments about Brown right after the game.

"I saw enough. I saw enough, period," the coach said Sunday. "It was enough penalties, pressures, sacks. It was enough. At some point you can't just keep watching it. Feelings get hurt, it is tough."

Kicker Garrett Hartley missed 36- and 26-yard field-goal attempts against the Rams, leaving him 22-for-30 on the season.

"The kicking game, we can't kick a field goal," Payton said. "You know, we have one blocked, which was a low-trajectory kick. The other one we just shanked to the left. We get an onside kick against us. We're alert all week for that possibility, so it's hard to just say or pick out one specific player.

"Obviously when you're at left tackle, it becomes more glaring. ... But we'll put a lot of thought into the best approach this week as we get ready to play Carolina."
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