Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. ― For the first time all season, Saints punter Thomas Morstead sat at his locker, surrounded by cameras and voice recorders and notepads.
Morstead’s performance against Detroit, or rather lack of, was news.
At least, it was to everyone not named Thomas Morstead, who didn’t punt one time in New Orleans’ 45-28 win over the Lions in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.
“We’ve gone into the fourth quarter five or six times this year without punting so it’s business as usual,” Morstead said. “Just normally I would expect to get one punt or so. I’m fine with zero.”
In the Saints’ next game, however, Morstead can expect to see a little more live action.
New Orleans (13-3, 1-0) travels to San Francisco (13-3, 0-0) for an NFC divisional playoff game and the 49ers boasted the No. 4 total defense in the NFL
And on Tuesday, he laid out his belief that Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game could come down to field position and turnovers.
“I think we have to be patient,” Payton said. “We have to understand how this team wins and how they’ve won not just a few weeks, but during the course of the season.”
The 49ers have won by winning the time of possession battle thanks to a stout defense and superior special teams.
Punter Andy Lee is the NFC’s Pro Bowl punter, who led the NFL in net average at 44.0 yards. His 50.9 yard gross average also led the NFL.
Morstead, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity to get into a punting battle with Lee.
“He’s a Shane Lechler-type,” Morstead said. “He’s just going to bang the ball as far as he can down the field. I hope he does that this week. We have a pretty good returner (Darren Sproles).”
The Saints punter, better known on the internet as “The Leg,” hasn’t been shabby himself.
Morstead finished second to Lee in net average at 43.1 yards per punt, giving up only 19 returns on 46 kicks.
He also led the NFL in touchbacks with 68, which were 15 more than the next-closest kicker.
Only one day into the on-field work week, Morstead said it’s obvious there’s more focus on special teams.
“I can tell it has been a point of emphasis this week,” Morstead said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. They rated out as the No.1 special teams unit in the NFL this year. I’m excited about that.”