New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton spoke with San Diego radio station XTRA 1360 Friday morning. Below are some highlights from the interview:
“Number one: the injury was as bad as you thought. There’s a select group of people that could do what Drew has done, with regards to the rehab, forget the accomplishments at first, the amount of attention to detail it took. Our first year, we’re able to sign Drew. We had confidence in his make-up and we had confidence in his toughness, his grit, all those things. There was uncertainty when we were getting started in New Orleans and we had to take some risk as well. But the first year, all throughout the first offseason during minicamp and OTAs, he was just in the huddle, up to the line of scrimmage and taking snaps. He wasn’t throwing the football until training camp and then during training camp, it might have been 20 passes a day for the first week. It was a pretty low pitch count to gradually do this thing the right way.
“I remember the story very well: he was on this plan and communicating very well with Dr. (James) Andrews, obviously being very thorough. We were playing the Colts in a preseason game in ‘06. At that point, it was in Jackson, Mississippi. He had a pass or two that sailed on him for an interception, but there was a pass in a preseason game, but after the game he referenced it and it was a concrete throw that he made that really gave him like “Hey, this is going to be fine.” Almost like a pitcher or a batter who had one good clean swing that felt like it used to. It was something to grab onto to know there are going to be more of those. I remember in the locker room looking over at Pete Carmichael, who’s our offensive coordinator, and Pete ,at one time was with Drew as a quality control coach with the Chargers. I look at him and ask “Is this it?” Because you’re trying to get a reference to “When he is back to full strength?” It’s hard for me to know. Pete kind of looked to me, and he’s usually pretty quiet, and he goes “No, that’s not it yet.” All the while, Drew said “Something happened tonight and it’s going to be fine.” Sure enough, he was right.”
On how DB Malcolm Butler’s visit with the Saints went Thursday…
“Good. He’s a sharp, sharp kid. He’s not too far from here as far as his hometown (Vicksburg, Miss.). His story, coming out of a small town in Mississippi and going through junior college at Western Alabama, it’s pretty amazing. The first three years he has had in this league, he has had a tremendous amount of success, winning two Super Bowls in three years and playing a big part of a team that has accomplished a lot. I’d say he’s humble. But when you watch the tape, he plays with a chip on his shoulder. We practiced with New England twice during that three-year span, so there’s a lot of additional practice tape that we have the chance to look closely at. I’m sure Bill (Belichick) and his staff were the same way when evaluating (Brandin) Cooks.”