New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonPost-practice media availability transcriptSaturday, August 6, 2016
"Just one roster transaction. We waived/injured DJ Pettway and signed John Kuhn. That puts us still at 90."
Everyday it seems like we've seen this defense playing better and better. The opportunistic side of this defense continues to show up. You've got to be pleased with that.
"Yes. One of the things I said afterwards, I thought the practice started a little slow. We went hard yesterday, and then it began to pick up with some of the live periods. The takeaways, obviously, on that side of the ball were encouraging. They were able to come up with the plays. There will be a lot we will have to correct. The emphasis today was on two-minute—or part of the emphasis. Then we got situationally some other categories worked on as well."
When was the last time you saw (Drew) Brees throw four picks in practice?
"Oh, I don't know. You know, we're working period to period. I don't know that we—certainly we keep track of them. There are a handful of them as you're watching. There was one play where we had a bust in the route; the receiver didn't come back to the ball. We had two or three things wrong with the pattern. We'll get on the tape, get those things cleaned up."
When you get a chippy play like that, do you have to pull the guys aside and remind them that we're not here for that, that we're here to get the work done?
"No. I think we had the one in the half-line drill where it escalated a bit. By and large, these guys have been staying up and doing a good job. I don't know that it's unusual, but there's some discipline needed and involved."
On the surface, it seems like the defense had a dominating day. But when you see it, just watching right now, is it more the defense having a great day or the offense struggling?
"I think you have to put the tape on. There are certain things you see on the field. When you're able to watch film and get a chance to look at it (there are other things you see). The thing that was encouraging was that we got some takeaways. It's the one thing we've really struggled with. So, that was a positive coming out, that we were able to get the ball turned over. We got some pressure on the quarterback. Regardless of what group it was, that was encouraging."
Have you noticed the defense has been consistent? They've been doing this now for consecutive days?
"I said yesterday, though, the red zone period—the first group offense was (winning) eight-three. The second and third group defense did a good job, and it came down to the final play in the competitive period. But, typically there is an ebb and flow. I'm sure that those guys on offense will want to come back out tomorrow and right that and have a good practice."
When you look at the competition with Nick Fairley—he was getting penetration and making plays. Do you evaluate as well who he is going against?
"Yes, always. Absolutely. Sometimes that is one of the challenges in the preseason. Oftentimes, you're wanting to get the young quarterbacks work, but sometimes the group they're working with can prevent that from happening, be it from protection or (not being the first team). But that is nothing new. And yes, I think anytime we are watching the film, we're grading the player. 'How's he doing? Who is it against?' But still, there's enough of a rotation of groups right now that that's part of the deal."
You mentioned the running back battle the other day. Is that cornerback battle deeper down just as tight?
"Absolutely. These young guys are playing (well). And I said it, there are going to be opportunities here. P.J. (Williams) is receiving a lot of playing time. These other two young (undrafted) free agents are receiving a lot of playing time. That's been encouraging. They are doing a good job competing."
How has (Ken) Crawley handled these first-team reps?
"I think well. He's big; He has size. He's made some plays on the ball each day. In your first year, your first camp, I think every one of those guys sees opportunity. They see an avenue to make the team—not only on defense, but they will have those opportunities in the kicking game as well."
What did you like about John Kuhn to bring him in?
"He's steady. When you watch the tape on him, he still graded out very well last year. He has been available. He's healthy. He's one of those guys that you understand exactly what you have and what you're wanting to do. We've always valued having a true fullback. We were getting thin there. Clearly, for us, he was the highest rated player that we wanted to bring in if that position opened up, and it did—the opportunity for him to receive reps. He's smart. He came in right away, and he was receiving some snaps in the morning practice."
Has the free agent class of (James) Laurinaitis, (Coby) Fleener, and (Craig) Robertson, been what you envisioned so far?
"Yes. I'll start with the linebackers. Both Robertson and (Nate) Stupar—I know that they are going to help us in the kicking game. I'd say both of them are receiving some good snaps on defense as well. Coby is picking it up. He's making some plays, working with his consistency and the details of what we are doing offensively. Who else did you mention?"
"Fairley. Yes. Each one of those guys, you try to have a vision for how they're going to impact your team. We haven't started playing games yet, but all of them are finding their opportunities when we're in these sessions."
How important is it—obviously, the game is on Thursday—to have two competitive practices against the Patriots, both offensively and defensively, to see how you measure up against them?
"I think it's good. You get to that point in camp—this will be the fourth time we've worked with New England—it gives you different looks, different personnel. I always like it. Somewhere in that second or third week of camp when you begin to maybe not just go through the motions, I think it picks up the intensity and awareness a little bit. I think it's good when it's a different team, especially when it's a quality team like New England."
When you bring (John) Kuhn in, it's kind of a reminder of how much you value the fullback position. How do you balance once you get into the season how important having a true fullback back there is compared to bringing a tight end back there? Could you go a whole season if you had two shuffling tight ends?
"In '09, when we lost Heath (Evans to a season-ending knee injury), David Thomas took over a lot of those responsibilities. I think, twofold, a lot of it is just the healthy depth with the week of the game. You know, there have been other weeks where we've gone into a game with the tight ends featured a lot more in that position. (There have been) many games where it's interchangeable that we're going to play it with 12 personnel or 21."
Was that rest for (Delvin) Breaux and (Kenny) Vaccaro, or were those guys dealing with some injury?
"Same thing—I'll give you any injuries when the fall starts. I know you have to ask."
Do you feel like you guys are getting better ball population on defense?
"I think so. I know this—it is hard to take the ball away if only nine guys are going hard. You have got to play with energy. You've got to know the defense. You've got to be able to play the scheme. I think we're getting more hats to the ball a little bit more consistently than we have. That's encouraging."
You talked about Dennis Allen being so much more organized and getting things in quicker. Is that part of why the defense is playing (so well)?
"I don't—listen, I think this. I think when you're coaching, you've got to be paying attention to all the little things. They matter. Dennis does a good job communicating with the players and the staff on the expectation level of each defense we call. Then, the things that don't require any talent—the toughness, the energy, the effort to the ball, all those things that everyone out here can do—he does a good job of holding those guys accountable, making sure every one of them is doing it."