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Brees: Payton contract situation 'blown out of proportion'

Quarterback Drew Bress said he understands the panic in WhoDat Nation now that talk of Sean Payton coaching elsewhere has become a hot topic. But, he's not buying it.

"Of course there's a scare when immediately it comes out and says Sean Payton's a free agent and he has the ability to go wherever he wants," Brees said Wednesday. 

"It seems like that story was blown out of proportion. I kind of learned about it like everyone else did. My focus is on our team and winning and I think that's what Sean would want us to do."

The goal is, as it's always been, Brees said, to focus on winning and everything else will take care of itself.  "I don't think anyone on the team's worried," he said.

It's the same public approach the Saints took with Brees' Summer of Uncertainty and the bounty scandal. How much of the Saints' struggled this season can be traced to off-the-field issues? That, we may never know. What we do know is that the Saints have their hands full with Sunday's game against an undefeated Atlanta team - and they need to keep their hands full on defense and not allow Atlanta's offense to make them NFL Victim No. 9. 

"The players, it feels like every time we play the Falcons it's such a big game, whether it be our standings or the meaning of the game (or) just the fact that we're divisional opponents (and) we always know it's going to be a 16-round bout. But, I think it's kind of obvious that there's an extreme competitiveness on both sides knowing what type of game this will be."

Injury report: Defensive end Junior Galette (ankle), right tackle Zach Strief (groin) and receiver Courtney Roby (shoulder) missed Wednesday's practice. Running back Darren Sproles also missed practice after breaking his hand during the Oct. loss at Denver.

Linebacker David Hawthorne participated in full practice. He has missed the last five games.

For Atlanta, injuries included receiver Kevin Cone (groin), safety Charles Mitchell (calf), running back Jason Snelling (illness) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle). Falcons listed as limited included Jonathan Babineaux (hamstring), tackle Sam Baker (ankle), receiver Harry Douglas (ankle), defensive tackle Peria Jerry (knee) and cornerback Asante Samuel (hip). Defensive end John Abraham, who has suffered from an elbow injury, participated in full practice.