Saints crank up the noise to prepare for road games

METAIRIE, La. -- After losing five of their last six road games in 2013, which cost them an NFC South title and either the first or second conference seeds, the New Orleans Saints aren't waiting until this fall to rectify that.

Although they are one of the NFL's best road teams since coach Sean Payton arrived back in 2006, the Saints laid an egg last season -- especially in December when three road losses turned a 9-2 record into an 11-5 mess.

On Wednesday, the second day of a three-day minicamp, Payton had crowd noise pumped in for the first time in the off-season during hurry-up drills to help get his team used to what they're going to hear on the road.

Payton also prepared a slideshow for a meeting in which he compared the team's home stats in the raucous Mercedes-Benz Superdome, where they went 8-0 for the second time in three seasons, with those they put up en route to going 3-5 on the road.

In the home games, quarterback Drew Brees completed 73.6 percent of his passes for 2,835 yards with 27 touchdowns and three interceptions. On the road, he connected on 64 percent of his passes for 2,327 yards with 12 TDs and nine picks.

No one had to tell Payton how important -- and helpful -- the home crowd is to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. They defeated the Saints twice in a 40-day span -- winning 34-7 in the regular season and then 23-15 in the divisional playoffs.

"Whether it's the defense at home or offense on the road, obviously, it changes a lot of the dynamics in communication on both sides of the ball," Payton said. "We wanted to implement it here (and) we'll do it a few times next week (in OTAs) as we play with cadences and things that just help us get used to it."

Brees certainly knows how difficult it is to play on the road even though the Saints have been pretty successful during Payton's tenure.

"At the end of the day, what are the difficult things about playing on the road?" Brees said. "Well, typically, it's your inability to communicate ... and what makes it difficult to communicate? It's the crowd noise.

"So the more that you can practice it and rep it, the more that it becomes second nature with maybe just those non-verbal cues that are helping to get in and out of the huddle, help getting the ball snapped. If you are used to it, it just becomes automatic and it's something that you don't stress about."

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