Saints need to prove it again in four days at Carolina

NEW ORLEANS -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the New Orleans Saints44-23 victory over the Green Bay Packers:

Prove it again: Coach Sean Payton’s message to his team after their best win of the season was obvious, since so many players repeated it. Just as they remained upbeat following a devastating loss at Detroit last week, they must remain measured heading into Thursday night’s game at Carolina.

Players insisted they won’t be overconfident -- and really, how could they be at 3-4? But they also said it was a big confidence boost to finally have that hard work pay off.

“It was extremely encouraging,” Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said. “Sean told us we just gotta keep hitting away at the stone, and eventually something will chip.”

Graham battles soreness: Payton said Graham was “full” this week in terms of his involvement in the game plan as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. It didn’t feel that way when Graham had zero catches in the first half, but then he caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Graham credited Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. for reminding him to stay patient early in the game and promising his time was coming. Graham said he’s still battling soreness and knows Monday will be “pretty rough for me.”

When asked if it’s only the morning after that bothers him now and not the game itself, Graham laughed. “It all bothers me, but I’m gonna do whatever it takes to be out there on the field and do whatever I can to help us win,” he said.

No work for punters: There were no punts in Sunday night’s game for just the third time in NFL regular-season history (it's also happened once in the postseason). The second time came earlier this year in a Packers-Chicago Bears game. Payton cracked afterward that it was a complete team victory but, “The punters didn’t get a lot of work.”