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New Orleans Saints Inside Linebacker Curtis Lofton 

Post-Practice Media Availability

August, 5, 2013

 

Did you guys get a chance to watch the film scrimmage?

 

“We broke down the film a little bit earlier today. We still have a little bit left to do. Overall, I feel like we are really starting to come together as a unit. We are not where we need to be but there are a lot of positives in it. There are a few negatives that we need to clean up and I think we did that for the most part this practice.”

 

How much are you looking forward to this Friday in this new scheme?

 

“I look forward to it because it’s a chance to go up against someone you haven’t practiced against.  Somebody that doesn’t know your checks, doesn’t know your plays. It also feels good to hit someone else and to be full go with someone else (besides your teammates(.”

 

We talk about the 3-4 and how it will affect the pass rush so much but how is that for the run defense? Should that improve the run defense in theory?

 

“I defiantly think it’s harder to run against the 3-4 just because it’s tough to identify what front they are in. Sometimes there could a 3-4, it could be a 4-3, it could be a bear, it could be an inverted bear. It makes offenses have to think and we have to move and shift around more. I think because we are doing that it can make us more successful against the run.”

 

Regardless of scheme, what do you guys need to do better? What are the two points of emphasis on run defense specifically after last year?

 

“Attitude, that’s the main thing. We have to have this sense that no matter who we are going against, no matter who it is, we have to stop the run and, as a man, that’s where you measure yourself against the run. I don’t really feel like we did a good job of that last year and this year with a new system and new scheme, we have to improve our attitude.”

 

Coming inside after the scrimmage, how does your body feel after a day off?

 

“Having a day off gives you a chance to rest your mind and also to rest your body. Get in the cold tub, hot tube, get a massage, and help you get back to being fresh but its Training Camp. This is the grind time. You’re going to go through it and your body isn’t going to feel great, your legs aren’t going to feel great but you have to get out there and practice and that’s the point where we are right now. Coach (Payton) does a great job of having us lifting weights, having us get in the cold tube, and helping us stay fresh.”

New Orleans Wide Receiver Steve Breaston

Post-Practice Media Availability

Monday, August 5, 2013

I know you worked out today and you probably have to study the playbook but what are your thoughts on being with the Saints? Obviously, they like to throw the football and you probably knew that coming here.

“It feels good being back out here. I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity. Like you said I have to go learn the playbook and keep working hard. I’m just glad to have an opportunity.”

You’ve been in situations where the quarterback position wasn’t stable. What is it like to have a quarterback like Drew Brees?

“He’s a great quarterback. Just to catch passes from him is a great opportunity. I know the situations I’ve been in but I don’t like to make excuses about that. I just want to come in and work hard and do my part. Just go out there and learn this playbook and get the opportunity to play.”

What’s been some of the challenges waiting to get the call this offseason?

“Just being mentally ready for the workouts. It’s one and done. You have your one chance to go out there and run routes. You have to make the best of it. It’s just the game of football to go out there and take advantage of the opportunity. Not just making it there but trying to finish off and making the team.”

Who threw you the football?

“I was just focused on catching the football. I didn’t even notice.”

It wasn’t Drew Brees?

“No, it wasn’t Drew.”

What was it in the workout that got you the spot?

“I pride myself on my route running. I think that’s what it was. It all comes down to a point where you have to make it happen. I think I’ve always ran good routes. Right now going into camp it’s all about getting open. Running routes on air is one thing but going up against completion is another.”

Obviously, you wanted a gig but when you look around the league were the Saints a team that you wanted to play for?

“Definitely. Around here they play good football. You always want to go into a situation like that. They’re going to push each other and no matter what the outcome is you know you’re going to have a solid team out there.”

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Marques Colston

Post-Practice Media Availability

Monday, August 5, 2013

 

Are you glad to be back out there?

 

“Definitely, I definitely feel good to be (back) out.”

 

It’s your first day, are you fresh?

 

“It was about time I started camp.”

 

What is the hardest thing to get back to doing coming off an injury?

 

“Just really getting back up to speed. Guys have been out here working for a week so they are in pretty good football shape.  That’s really the biggest thing I have to do early on.”

 

Did you work your way back slowly because you know this offense so well?

 

“I just tried to listen to the training staff and let them guide me in the best direction at this time.  It really wasn’t a personal call I just listened to those guys and I got back on track.”

 

Is it a coincidence that they have you come back on a day that the team loses some receivers?

 

“No I think it was just a coincidence.  Obviously with a couple of guys it doesn’t hurt, but this was kind of the target date we set about a week ago.  So, it felt good to get back out there.”

 

What have you seen from a lot of these young receivers?

 

“I have seen a lot of good things from every guy on the receiver core at this point.  Just to stress to them that this is an opportunity.  Obviously you hate to see guys go down, but there are going to be more reps opened up and I look forward to seeing those guys take advantage.”

 

Is this injury a similar problem to last year?

 

“Well I think it is just a result of (that) its eight years now.  It’s just one of those things that I have to manage and stay in front of.  I just wanted to make sure that I was fully ready to go at this point of the season.”

 

Have you been a mentor and talked to some of the young receivers?

 

“Yes, you guys know by now that I’m not the most vocal guy out there, but I make sure that I am resource for those guys, anything on or off the field.  These guys have done a great job coming in here and picking everything up pretty quickly and it has translated on to the field and they have made some big plays.  I just continue to look forward to working with some of these young guys.”

 

Do you see a similarity between you and Nick Toon?

 

“Obviously he is a bigger body guy, but that is probably where the similarities stop.  I think he is a little more sudden and faster than a lot of people give him credit for and that is just a credit to the work he has put in this offseason.”

New Orleans Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro 

Post-Practice Media Availability

Monday, August 5, 2013

 

What are your thoughts on the Black & Gold Scrimmage?

 

“I think we did well. We had some mental errors out there but we watched film today and we’re going to get all that stuff corrected.”

 

How about your individual performance?

 

“I did alright. I made a couple of tackles, nothing spectacular. I can do better.”

 

Does it make a difference having a day off?

 

“Definitely. My legs are back and I felt fresh out here.”

 

How much do you like that nickel spot, covering the slot receiver?

 

“I did it all in college. Honestly, I was primarily the nickel back for four years. I’ve had a lot of experience doing it so I’m real comfortable doing it.”

 

How do you feel that might change with Patrick Robinson coming back into the fold?

 

“I really don’t know. Honestly they have me playing a number of positions. I’ve just been doing what I can at each position. I really don’t know. We’ve got great defensive backs so it will be interesting to see which DBs are on the field at one time.”

 

During the scrimmage did you notice an increase in the speed or tempo of the game?

 

“Not really. Besides the fact that we were taking guys fully down? Not really. We go full speed in practice every day, except we’re trying to keep guys up. Besides the tackling it’s kind of the same speed.”

 

How much were you looking forward to being able to tackle? Obviously you play at a high intensity during practice anyway.

 

“I mean we got to wrap people up. I’m pretty intense at practice so there really wasn’t that much of a difference except that I get to kind of take guys down. But (it was) not much difference for me.”

Sports
08/02/13

Keenan Lewis

New Orleans Saints Cornerback Keenan Lewis

Post-Practice Media Availability

Friday, August 2, 2013

 

Are you excited about it being regular football tomorrow?

“Definitely, tomorrow is going to be pads, it’s a live scrimmage so that’s what you can assimilate to a game and hopefully everybody is ready to go.”

 

Coach Payton has been looking for something out of the scrimmage.  As a player, what do you need to see, more specifically position wise?

“Just get the plays running like that and see how people perform when it’s a live practice like that also because its assimilates a game, so just seeing guys run out there and doing things right.”

 

There were a lot of pass defenses today in practice, obviously you want interceptions, but can a pass defense be just as important?

“It’s very important to be stopping a guy from catching it, but an interception is what you look forward to.  Those the turnover plays so the offense doesn’t get an opportunity to score so that’s the thing we’ll be working on.”

 

Asess what you’ve done in camp so far?

“I don’t think I’m where I want to be yet, but that’s what camp is for; To get in shape and get the rust out.  For all summer, you don’t have the opportunity to go one on one with guys so having that opportunity is helping me prepare.”

 

Rod Sweeting mentioned you as a guy he kind of looks up to. What have you seen out of the rookie?

“A guy (who’s) like me, long arms who can run, make plays on the ball, very physical…I’m looking forward to big things for him this preseason. Like I tell him all the time, come out and give 100 percent as he’s been doing. I’m pretty sure he’ll be a special (player). “

 

Is this the guy you can take under your wing and mentor a little bit?  

“Definitely, the first day he came in, I told him he could lean on me.  (I’m) A guy who’s been through four camps already, this is number five so, all of the questions and thoughts he needs to ask, I told him he could come to me.  I’ll help him through.”

Sports
08/01/13

Lance Moore

New Orleans Saints, WR Lance Moore

Post-Practice Media Availability

Thursday, August 1, 2013

 

 

 

Sarah Thomas, which was up here speaking. Did you notice any kind of stuff with the two female referees that were out there today?

 

“Yes, because you guys are all here. Sarah has actually been at our camp for the last two or three years, maybe even four years. You notice her the first couple times but after that you don’t really notice her when you’re on the field. Once the whistle is blown, we have to play ball. We can’t worry about who is up there wearing the zebra shirts.”

 

Playing ball now with seven days under your belt, how would you asses how the guys are progressing? We see more defensive side, more blitzes.

 

“I think we are playing a little better. It’s still early on in camp. We have not gotten yet to intersquads (which we will do) on Saturday. We have not had any live action yet. Guys can look really good in practice, but not so good in games. Once we get closer to those game situations we will get a better read. Like I said, we are working hard, trying to get better every day and that’s our focus.”

 

It kind of seems, when you look at position battles with receivers and defensive backs and lots of players in there battling for positions. It kind of helps each other around doesn’t it?

 

“It does. Anytime there is going to be competition especially on both sides it’s going to bring the best out of us. We got a deep group of receivers. From top to bottom I think this is one of the deepest groups we have had since I have been here. I think that is only going to make us better. Each day we go out we are trying to make the DBs better and I hope in turn they are trying to do the same for us.”

 

What does it mean the you are the senior tenured player among the receivers?

 

“I don’t really like it (joking). I don’t want Sean (Payton) to come up to me and call me one of the old guys. He has done it a couple times already during camp and I don’t want to get that label. It is definitely a credit to the way that I work and coming from where I came from to get to this point. This is my ninth training camp and about seven days in it feels like it’s my fifteenth. I feel good and I’m just trying to continue on forward.”

 

Isn’t that a compliment?

 

“It is because I’m still here, but you don’t want them to start to call you old.”

 

Coach has talked about wanting to have more balance on running the ball this year. From your perspective have you noticed them calling a lot more running plays?

 

“I would not necessarily say they are calling more running plays, but the focus is definitely there. Anytime we can play more complementary games on offensive, not only is going to help us more on our offensive team; but it’s going to help our team in general. It will give our defense a little more rest and hopefully gain more yards, more first downs, and (produce better) time possession as well, and definitely help our special teams out too in bad situations.”

 

Is that something you noticed as a receiver when you guys ran the ball better in the past if you have more room to work with out there?

 

“Yes. The year we won the Super Bowl I think we were top 10 rushing. That kind of gets swept under the rug because Drew seems to pass for a ton of yards every season. The more success we have on the ground then I guarantee the more successful we will be every season.”

 

Drew said that Sean Payton came back in here this year with a different perspective and a lot of fresh ideas. What have you noticed that you have brought to the table on your side of the ball?

 

“I would say, first and foremost just the sense of normalcy. The whole last sixteen to eighteen months have been different around here. He is such a creative and intelligent football mind. He is always going to be breaking things down. He was away for a whole season and he comes back and knows every single play that happened last year because he broke it down on film. Like you said he has definitely got new ideas and innovative things to put into our offense (we) can’t give those away now but we will see those here in a couple of weeks.”

 

Sports
08/01/13

Roman Harper

New Orleans Saints S Roman Harper

Post-Practice Media Availability

Thursday, August 1, 2013

 

 

 

 

With seven days in, can you kind of asses the progress?

 

“It’s moving along in the right direction. We got more installed in the past couple of days and we have handled it very well. The younger guys are moving along well. I think they did well yesterday but everything we have been doing they start to catch up. Now they are just starting to get the flow.”

 

It almost seems like you guys are doing a little more there, foreseeing the blitzes and seeing what Drew Brees does. How frustrating is that at times and also realizing your trying to improve but it’s not always showing up immediately.

 

“It is what it is. I have seen Drew do this for about seven or eight years now. You just got to understand he is not going to give you a lot, so the things that we can actually execute  and actually confuse him on is going to really work in the game. At the end of the day, it is Drew but we got to worry about what we can do on defense and get better at doing that.”

 

Even though some coaches ask for players opinions about things, where does Rob Ryan fit in that spectrum?

 

“He’s always worried about, how do we like this, or how do we feel about this, or how do we like this look and if we don’t like something then say something. Especially some of the older guys that have played some ball and got some stripes on the wall (he communicates this with them a lot). He is all about it, where we got to be comfortable and he understands that we play the game. If we are not comfortable then it’s just not going to work. It’s not just about black and white defense if you just put something on the board. Football is not played well that way, it’s played on the field, and it’s played between the lines. The players have to be comfortable there and you got to make plays.”

 

Does he do that more so than other coaches?

 

“That is Rob Ryan’s style. I’m not going to say who had more or what. I am not really going to compare apples with oranges. At the end of the day Rob likes for us to be comfortable players about our play. (He wants us to) just go out there and make plays. If you are making plays he is happy with it.”

 

 

What’s your view of Kenny Vaccaro at this point?

 

 

“I like this guy, he has got some things that you can’t teach. He has got some toughness he has got some fight about him. Those are things that you can’t coach. You don’t want to have to tell your players to be aggressive. It’s always good to have to tell them to come on back a little bit. If we keep him in the yard, he is going to be really good for us.”

 

 

Have you told him anything at this point?

 

“No I don’t tell him anything. I just let him go and we will correct him on Sundays. Right now he is too young for me to be telling him what to do and I coach him up on football stuff, but aggression and things like that I just let him go and if he has got to fight then fight. It’s like (a) playground out here, you got to get it done.”

 

 

You know Sean Payton and Drew Brees very well. How would you say their communication their interaction have been this season compared to other seasons after having that year away? What did you first notice about them together?

 

“They always have (had) a special relationship. They work closely hand in hand. When it comes to the playbook especially in the game plan, how we are going to attack teams. We won’t do too much of things that Drew is uncomfortable with. Sean has a great feel of what Drew likes. Sean has a way of putting everybody in position, exotic formations whether it’s with spirals or having three running backs in he is very, very good with mixing up personnel Drew understands that. It’s really good seeing he has got his (opportunity to) work back together (with coach Payton) again.”

 

Has anything changed? Is anything different?

 

“Not in the huddle. They always had a strong bromance. It is what it is.”

 

As a defender, how much more difficult does it make when the offense is able to run the ball efficiently?

 

“It makes it so much harder because now you have to actually come up field, really keep your eyes right, but then it makes it better for the offense because now they can pull out, (run) play action, heavy sets. They can bring in 20 personnel, make a throw on third (down and) it just really keeps you balanced, when they are in control of the pace of the game. It really makes it hard on the defense.”

Sports
08/01/13

Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

Post-Practice Media Availability

August 1, 2013

 

Sarah Thomas is out here today. She’s been with you for a few years, maybe. Through a players perspective, there is a little bit of history there. What is the difference when you’re out there? Anything with that?

 

“No, she is a pro. She’s been out here, like you said, the last couple years. So there is a comfort level, as with any other official. It is an opportunity when they come out here to fine-tune their skills and get ready for the season. It is their training camp just as much as it is our training camp. When you kind of follow the history of really all officials, you know we have an officials report every week before we play every game, and it kind of details the history of this official. For example, Walt Coleman’s out here too. You know, he started, maybe, I don’t know this for sure about him specifically. But maybe, an official started in the Pac 10 Conference, and they coached these bowl games, and then became a side judge this year, and five years later, they became a head referee, and they have refereed this AFC Championship game, and this Pro-Bowl. It just kind of goes through their list of accomplishments, and it’ll talk about what their job is outside of being an official. They have a family. You know, you learn about them on a personal level. It is not just all business, like it is out there on game day and such. We can have those personal conversations as well. They are as if they are one of your teammates or something.”

 

Do you want to see a woman on the field while you are still playing?

 

“Sure. I mean they are as qualified as anyone else who is out there. You see, there is a protocol that they all go through. It is not easy to become a NFL official, just like it is not easy to become a NFL player. There is, like I said, a list of qualifications, experience levels; there is a process by which they go through. But, certainly, it seems like she is deserving if she is going to be out there.”

 

Are we mislead with Benjamin Watson? He was always a run-blocking tight end. But, I have been impressed. As a pass receiving tight end, he seems like the complete deal. He is good at blocking for the run, but he can really catch the ball. He catches it cleanly. He looks good out there.

 

“Yes, for being a 10-year veteran guy, he has been around for a long time, (and) been on some really good teams. He has won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. (He is) extremely athletic, fast, and (has) a rare combination of the ability to be a great route runner, catch the ball well and also (be a solid) blocker. We really have a good one in him.  He is going to be great for Jimmy (Graham). They get along extremely well. It is going to be a great combination. So we are excited to have him.”

 

Lance Moore is the longest tenured receiver. He says he does not like being called that. What are your thoughts on that?

 

“Is that just another term for you are old? Longest tenure? You know what though? Look at Lance’s career. He was an undrafted free agent. I think on Cleveland’s training camp. Ryan Pace has told me some of the stories. He has told me many times. He saw him in a scrimmage one time, snatched him in ’05, I believe, during the Hurricane Katrina year, when the team was displaced, and he was on our practice squad in ’06 and then kind of worked his way in, a little bit, in ’07, and then now he has been a mainstay since ’08, and has really done a phenomenal job. There is not a guy I trust more out there than Lance. The road that he has traveled to get where he is, he has earned it all. But we have a lot more good years together, but that experience is a good thing for him. I do not mind being called tenured. Not old, but tenured. It is good.”

 

Looking at those young receivers, at the three or four spot, do any of them stand out to you?

 

“A lot of them are standing out, actually. I mean literally, every single one of them. You put them in there and feel a level of confidence. So we will see how it shakes out. There is still a lot of football to be played, practices and then the preseason games, but I feel like we have a really solid group here.”

 

What was your relationship with Sean (Payton) like when he first came back, when you guys first started on the field? Was there any rust you guys had to knock off? Can you just tell me a little bit about that, having him back and how you all interacted?

 

“I would not say there was any rust. You know, you have those people in your life that you may not see for a while, but when you get together, it is like no time has passed. That is how it is with Sean. We had a little bit of catching up to do, but just in regards to ‘Hey, how has life been for the last fourteen months,’ and ‘What is your perspective as you saw from a distance,’ and that kind of thing, but other than that, it has been football as usual, business as usual. It is just good to have him in my ear in practice and have your head man back.”

 

Has his approach, in terms of dealing with you and interacting with you, changed at all?

 

“It has not changed. It really has not. We have been together now, this will be our eighth season, going back to ’06. So, we have had a lot of time together. We can draw on a lot of experiences together. Sometimes, we are at practice, and we will be like ‘Hey, remember when we played so-and-so in ’07, and we ran this?’ It is weird how you remember certain things. I can’t remember certain things that you told me yesterday, but I can remember a play in a game from ten years ago. And who ran it, or why we called it, or who we were trying to attack, or what the situation was. It is just that crazy kind of memory when it comes to football. So, we will sit there and do that all day long on the field. And it is good. We are in the moment. We are talking shop, and trying to find ways to get better, and kind of retool and fine tune this offense to make it better.”

 

What do you think of Kenny Stills at this point?

 

“I really like Kenny. He reminds me a lot of Lance (Moore). Just a very smooth route runner and a very natural pass catcher. Pretty elusive, sudden at times. Bigger than you think. So, he has impressed me a lot. I like his approach. I think he is very smart and has the ability to play a lot of different receiver positions. Move him around. It does not seem like it has ever been too much for him. You keep throwing it at him. He just absorbs it and is able to go out and execute it. It doesn’t seem like it is weighing him down at all.”

 

On the same lines, can you touch on Nick Toon a little bit? He got hurt in camp last year. 

 

“I think coming for him from OTA’s, being away from football for about a year, you can tell there was a little rust to work off. But, ever since he has come into training camp, you see the light bulb coming on, and the sense of urgency. He is making some really nice plays, and making it look really natural, which is great to see out of a young receiver, watching him develop like that.”

 

Who would you compare going against Keenan Lewis, compared to other corners? Is it bump and run coverage ability?

 

“Well, whenever you have big corners with long arms, that is typically something that those guys like to get their hands on receivers, and reroute them at the line of scrimmage, and that works in their favor. You see a lot of bigger corners enjoy that, and he is definitely one of those guys. He has made some plays out here too. He has made some nice plays down the field too, not just on the jam. But, as they get down the field, ball up in the air, his ability to go up and contest it.”

 

The renewed focus on the rushing game, how much easier does that make your job and what kind of role do you think Pierre Thomas plays in that?

 

“He will play a big role. All of the backs will big roles. They are great stable backs. They can do everything. All of them can block, all of them can run, inside, outside. They can all catch the ball at the backfield. They are all smart, tough, disciplined, reliable. And so, anytime you can get the run game going, especially early in the game, it opens up so much in the pass game. We want to be very complimentary. So, where the run game is setting up the pass, the pass is setting up the run. And you have a defense on your heels to worry about. And there is so many ways they can hurt us. On the run game with all these backs, and the receiving corps and the tight end corps, and that kind of thing. That is the world we want to live in. “

 

Ryan Griffin, you gave him a good nickname, and so far it seems like he is making good strides here.

 

“RG4. Yeah, he had a big day yesterday. As a young quarterback coming in, you are limited on reps, and it is a lot of terminology, a lot of stuff thrown at you. He gets the benefit of having played at Tulane last year, with Curtis Johnson. It is a similar system, so some similar terminology carries over. But, you’re still stepping into the NFL game. The speed of the game, the speed at practice, and just the amount that is thrown at you at once (is big). I feel like he has done a great job at absorbing it. So, Griff is doing a great job.”

 

What is your opinion on the changes to the Pro-Bowl eliminating that kick return spot?

 

“I was not aware of that.”

 

They are adding another defensive back, instead of a kick returner spot next year.

 

“Okay. Does that mean that they are not going to kick off anymore?”

 

Yeah. They are eliminating kick offs.

 

“Well, I can tell you this. Every guy who is over there at the Pro Bowl, who gets to be the lucky individuals who get to be on the kick off team, they probably haven’t done that in 10 years, or maybe ever. (It’s) not something they look forward to. It is obviously a high-risk, high-injury proposition on the kickoff team and kickoff return. So, I do not know. It stinks for the return guys, who certainly deserve that opportunity. Guys like (Darren) Sproles, and (Devin) Hester, and some of these other guys who have been those return guys in years past, but I guess I can see why they did it. No one wants to go over there and play special teams.”

 

How do you like the top two vote getters being captains picking teams? So you could have AFC guys on your team.

 

“Again, all this stuff is news to me. I have not seen it yet. So, explain that one to me again.”

 

The top two vote getters will be captains. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, two fantasy football players from NFL.com get to pick teams. So you can pick whomever you want. There is no NFC versus AFC. You could be playing against your own teammate. Jimmy Graham could be on the other team if you are the top two vote getters.

 

“So, the NFL Pro-Bowl roster guys are established, and then, basically, they have these team captains, who then choice amongst that pool of guys who goes to which team?”

 

Right. The NHL does it that way.

 

“Interesting. We will see how it plays out.”

 

As long as you are there right?

 

“I just want to throw to my guys. That is all.”

 

Drew, what are your thoughts on the Riley Cooper situation.

 

“Okay, again. That is not something that I (am really up on). I just saw that when I was literally walking out of the locker room today, so I am not aware of that situation, other than I kind of heard that there were some racist comments made. I am not sure of anything other than that.”

 

Does that surprise you?

 

“Sure. I do not know Riley Cooper at all. So, again, I do not know the situation. Obviously, that is not a good thing if racist comments were made.”

 

Do you foresee, should a woman make it into a line judge, or whatever position it may be, that a perceived bad call will be treated any differently by the crowd, the team, the coaches, if the bad call came from a female official?

 

“I do not know. Maybe? I think it would be hard for a coach to yell at a female official, like he would a male official. That is just being honest. But, I think there is going to be a track record with officials, as they gain experience as they have games under their belt and that kind of thing. I mean we are not going to evaluate officials any differently, whether they are male or female.”

Sports
08/01/13

Sean Payton

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Post-Practice Media Availability

Thursday, August 1, 2013

 

Opening Statement: “With regards to the injuries, I’m not going to hit on the guys that haven’t been practicing. We rested (Mark) Ingram today and he’ll practice again tomorrow. We installed red zone. We came inside and I thought the tempo was pretty good. It was pretty good to get out of the heat. I thought we had some of our better work.”

 

What about any of the rule changes? What are you most concerned about with the new rule changes?

 

“Every year we have the officials come in and we spend three days with them. I don’t know specifically if there’s anything that would be drastically different. I know there’s been a lot of attention to the running backs. That’s a unique play where the running back is head on with the defender. It doesn’t come up that often but well be sure to cover it. The officials will be in the meetings today with our players, really watching the practice tape and if there are any questions well get them answered. They’ll be here in practice tomorrow and of course for Saturday’s scrimmage. So they’ll have a presentation tonight with us and go through a handful of changes that we’ve seen but I don’t know that there’s any that are going to be significant.”

 

Speaking of the refs, there’s the two female line judges out there today. Can you just speak about that?

 

“Well one’s a line judge the others an umpire. I’m familiar with Sarah (Thomas) only because she’s had a chance to participate in our camps since I got here. In ’06 ’07 and ’08 she’s been part of a crew that’s worked out training camp every year. She’s done a great job. You really don’t notice or pay attention to it. Maybe the first time you see a female official (you notice). I think our players have gotten real used to seeing her out at practice. I know she’s a line judge.”

 

After a year away, how was your communication on the field with Drew Brees? What was that like when you first got back?

 

“I think it was pretty normal. I said this before, a few months ago, the biggest challenge was being away and having that interaction outside of football (based on) the idea that you can’t communicate with anybody in the NFL, any player or any coach. That was the biggest change. But from a football stand point more than anything was getting up to speed with some of the nuances and changes. The other thing that was different or a little bit more different than I expected (is that) your roster changes 15, 16, 18 percent a year. So you come back to two (draft) classes, (and) two free agent classes. Overall the interaction you have with people you work with every day and not having that was unusual and a little difficult.”

 

 

Drew said you came back with a lot of fresh ideas.

 

“Listen, you come back with a lot of energy. You get a chance to watch from afar and you have a lot of thoughts. I think it’s still about some fundamentals and wins and losses. I think that’s going to be important for us. We got to play better defense and be more opportunistic. There’s a number of areas we’ve got to improve on if we’re going to have any success this season.”

 

What is your opinion on college football getting ready to kick off their training camps? Do you think they are going to follow suit as far as how practices are structured, not having two a days and move more like the NFL is doing?

 

“I don’t know. I don’t know the format in which they govern. I don’t know how they set that up. I know they’ve paid a lot of attention to some of the same issues that we’ve had to, but I don’t know how they would decide on that.”

 

You talk about how you want to improve the offense and maybe run the ball more. Did you see anything from last year that maybe you want to change for this year?

 

“Those things go hand in hand. You want to have balance and yet it’s hard to do if you’re behind. You want to control the clock and time of possession and yet you’re giving up big plays and not playing well on defense. All those things lead to more challenging snaps, more third downs and less opportunities to run. They kind of fit hand in hand. I’ve said this a number of times, we have to play better complementary football. Each week understanding what it takes to win that game, defensively and offensively and in the kicking game. That can vary based on your opponent, it can change based on the how the game’s unfolding. I do think that opportunity to or that ability to control the game in the second half involves a run game. It’s just harder to do when you’re behind.”

 

How hard is it as a play caller to say you want to commit to the run but now its second and nine in down and distance?

 

“I agree. It’s happened to me a number of times, you have a mindset going in and then you find yourself in a game when you really got to be able to midstream adjust. I think Pete (Carmichael) has got a great rhythm. He’s someone that knows what we’re doing more than anyone. It just becomes more challenging if you’re giving up the big plays and you’re surrendering yards and all of the sudden you’re down 11 instead of six. You know it’s coming and you hate to get in that hurry up. You’re down two scores and you know the rest of the game is going to be pass or draw. Part of having that balance is being confident in what you’re doing, being efficient in what you’re doing and having that same confidence in defending your opponent. They all get tied together.”

 

 

 

What’s the lineup for Saturday?

 

“Our start time is the same. It will be very similar to what you have seen us do in the past. I know last year they played in the Hall of Fame game. It will be a series of eight to 12 plays. We’ll put the ones versus the twos, the ones versus the ones. We’ll put some special teams in there. It’s going to be outside, weather permitting. It’s kind of a controlled scrimmage. We’ll stay off the quarterbacks and stay away from cutting, blocking below the waist. We’ll try to stay healthy and pretty much what we’ve done before.”

 

Can you give me your thoughts on the journey of Elliot Mealer, his path to the NFL and everything he’s been through?

 

“Obviously, with a tragedy like that, he’s someone who has battled through a tough situation and has gotten the opportunity. It says a lot about him. He’s adjusted pretty well to what we’re doing. He’s pretty smart. Just not really knowing all the specifics, there’s a special person inside that’s been able to handle that and still try to chase his dream.”

 

Can you give me your thoughts on Rob Ryan’s philosophy when it comes to soliciting players’ opinions?

 

“I think as teachers and coaches we always want to have feedback. We kind of measure how it comes and if it’s fitting into what we want to do. That would be our philosophy. You see that dialogue a lot with position coaches and even the coordinator and special teams is the same way. I think one of Rob’s strengths is his ability to communicate with a player and make them feel good about what they’re doing. I think that’s a good asset.”

 

Has anyone for the third or fourth receiver position stood out?

 

“No, not yet.”

 

What has Drew Brees communicated to you on what he wants to get better at?

 

“He’s so competitive. He’s used to playing in games that matter towards the end of the season. That hasn’t been one specific thing that we’ve said we need to do differently. Everywhere he’s been he’s won. We got a lot of guys on our team that are like that; they’re competitive and they’re use to winning football games. I think more than anything else I think leading his team to victory and winning football games, those are all more important to him than statistics.”

 

You talked about Mark Ingram and how important he is going to be to the running game. How about Pierre Thomas?

 

“Absolutely. We’re going on the seventh year for Pierre. He’s been one of those running backs that finishes forward for positive yards. He’s durable, smart, (and) he can do a lot of things well. Both of those guys are going to factor in what we do in the running game. Really because of a little bit of that depth we were able to trade Chris (Ivory), otherwise we would not have. Pierre is someone that knows this system, runs with good pad level and has real good balance.”

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