"Certainly, you look to become one of those teams that is having success. You understand and appreciate that with that comes Thursday night, Monday night, Sunday night, NFL Network Saturday night and Thanksgiving games," Payton said. "That comes when you are playing well. When you start getting a bunch of 12:00 or 1:00 games throughout the course of the season, then that's a bigger challenge."
Payton has experienced both sides of Thursday night openers.
The Saintslost 41-10 at Indianapolis in 2007 and won 14-9 over visiting Minnesota last season. This will be New Orleans' third Thursday night opener in the last five years, a sign of just how far the franchise has come. There were many Sundays the Saints weren't even on local television because they were so lousy that they had trouble selling out.
"What we do know about this game is that it is a media and fan spectacle with all the stuff going on and the unveiling of the championship banner and all those things," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "The biggest thing for us is just understanding that we need to hunker down, eliminate distractions, focus on the game and not get caught up in all the hoopla -- understanding how excited they're going to be and they're going to come out all jacked up just like we did last year. We just need to weather the storm and really stay focused on the task."
Payton tends not to buy into historical trends. From the time he arrived, he was quick to say nothing that occurred during the Saints' predominantly losing history before his arrival applied to his regime. He also bristled when asked in 2009 whether he was concerned about a three-game skid to end the regular season, something no Super Bowl winner had done before.
Yet, even while Payton might delight in defying historical trends, he still studies them.
"You do study the challenges," Payton said. "The challenges are going into a venue with added excitement because there is going to be a recognition of last year's championship.
"When you go in to an environment, especially a place like Lambeau Field, it's without a doubt the most historic stadium in our league ... you learn about your team, and it's a tremendous challenge."
"You've got two well-coached teams going into Thursday night," Woodson said. "I guess the only advantage we have is playing here at Lambeau. They'll be prepared, we know that. And we'll be prepared as well.
"You have two teams ready to play, fired up. It's the only game on, it's the first game of the season, so each team will have that anticipation going into the game. I just look forward to it being a very fun game, high tempo, with a lot of guys flying around. So it'll be fun."
"The first thing starts with the fact that it's always the defending champ. It's not like it's a slouch team," Jenkins said. "I don't know if it's a trend or a coincidence, but it's a tough game. The crowd's into it, and that team has talent because they're the defending champs.
"The fun part about it is you get the best challenge right out of the gate," Jenkins continued. "If you win it, it can really accelerate you as far as confidence and just some momentum going into the season."
Notes:Saints WR Lance Moore missed practice for a second consecutive day because of a nagging right groin injury that has bothered him for about two weeks, but he said he remains optimistic that he'll be ready to play by Saturday night. "I feel good. It's just a matter of how things will progress," Moore said. "I think it has to do a lot with fatigue and not being on the practice field for almost two weeks. Things are going to get a little bit sore when you get back out there. Hopefully I'll be ready to go." ... Payton said Moore is a player he would trust in a game even if he hadn't practiced much of the week, "because he knows what we do cold." ... Moore and K Garrett Hartley were the only players missing Tuesday's practice. Veteran John Kasay is expected to kick in Green Bay.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press