"Hopefully we can be more balanced across the board," said Patten, who led the Saints with eight catches for 113 yards during a 28-17 victory at Seattle on Sunday night.
"That's one thing coach Payton stressed to me," Patten recalled Thursday. "He said he needed a veteran guy who could, one, come in and still play ... and have that veteran presence as well as be able to go out there and not only lead from the experience and wisdom I've gained over the years, but also in the production on the field. And I take that as a challenge."
Now in his 11th season, Patten has almost three times as much time in the NFL as Devery Henderson and Terrance Copper, who each are in their fourth season. Marques Colston is in only his second season, and Lance Moore is really in his first, having been a practice squad player for most of the past two years.
"Everybody can make plays: myself, Devery, Lance, as well as Colston. That way you can't come in and really key on one guy," Patten said. "I know when we had our success in New England, that was the key to our offense. Everyone made plays."
Early in his career, Patten made his mark with his speed. He said he could run 40 yards in 4.27 seconds when he first came into the league out of Western Carolina. Last winter he ran a 4.3.
"I still feel like I have my speed. The older you get you may decline a little bit, but I feel like that's one thing I've been able to maintain," Patten said. "It's really not how fast you are in the 40. It's your play speed. You have a lot of fast guys, but you watch them on film, they don't get open, they don't get separation. It comes down to the technique aspect of running routes."
"You don't ever hear anyone talk about how fast he was, but all you ever saw was him about 5 or 10 yards behind defenders," Patten said.
"He's been part of something that you could argue is a dynasty," Brees said. "He knows that feeling. He knows what the locker room and practice field is like. He knows what it's like on game day with your confidence level, momentum and all of those things.
"We've had many, may conversations on and off the field, sitting down having dinner, at the team meal, whatever it may be, about building that type of atmosphere here."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press