Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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METAIRIE, La. It might have taken months to admit, at least publicly, but those Saints defensive players back from 2012, when the unit set a record for ineffectiveness, had lost their mojo.

'We lost our confidence a little bit,' linebacker Curtis Lofton said. 'We didn't do good early on and it was a fight to get back from that.'

That's now in the past. New players and a new defensive coordinator have brought about a new day.

Per Lofton, the defense is more to their liking.

'Aggressive football,' he said. 'We're cocky. We'll play anybody. It's that kind of mindset and (we're) looking forward to it.'

As has been well-publicized, the Saints defense was historically futile a season ago under then-coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. They allowed 7,042 yards from scrimmage, 249 yards more than the previous record held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

Some of the renewed confidence could be tied to the return of coach Sean Payton, who missed 2012 as part of the NFL's handed down punishment for what it called a three-year bounty program.

According to Lofton, Payton has brought energy and focus back to 5800 Airline Drive.

'Having coach Payton back, I would say it's a tightly ran ship,' Lofton said. 'Just having him back on offense, there's a little bickering back and forth. There's competition. It's a really competitive nature now.'

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