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Coach Payton's Thursday OTA Report

Saints head coach summarizes first week of club's OTA's

Opening Statement:

"We finished up our first of three (weeks of) organized team activities today. The players will be basically off besides the rookies until next week and we start off the minicamp on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the following week we'll pick back up with the OTA's."

Can you talk about the difference in your feelings last May and this May?

"It's different. We're a more experienced team. It's been a shorter offseason. With that challenge, we've tried to push some of the dates back. We're all anxious to see this draft class and the rookies themselves and the additional free agents we signed; how they transition. How they fit into this team. I'd say we're more experienced and with winning a Super Bowl certainly more confident."

Having achieved what you did last year, do you feel you're a better coach?

"I think each year you look to improve. I think that there are benchmarks you look to accomplish and certainly all of us when we get in this whether it's high school, college or professional want to win a state championship or win a BCS National Championship or a Super Bowl title. Those are goals that you set, but more importantly for yourself, you set those for your team. I think most of us feel that experience through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl is one you have now. You also recognize how difficult the challenge is. I don't know if that's answering your question or how you want it answered, but the goal is always to win."

How much Jammal Brown and Pierre Thomas did you expect them to not be here, specifically with Jammal?

"I think it's pretty common this time of the year. I think every year there's a player or two. There hasn't been any dialogue. In Pierre's case, I haven't talked to Pierre, so I don't want to speak on his behalf, but we've had great attendance. I think each year, it's part of a little bit of the landscape of what we do. It hasn't been unusual or uncommon. In fact, it's fairly common for us just as it is for other teams."

Would you like to sign Jammal Brown to a long-term deal?

"We'll see. Number one, it would be inappropriate for me to be talking about us wanting to sign someone or not wanting to sign someone when that' dealing with a player's contract. He's a guy that has certainly played well for us and done a good job. I haven't' had any dialogue. Mickey (Loomis) and the representatives will go about their course of business, just like we always would during this time of the season."

Would you consider trading him at some point?

"I just don't think it's the right discussion right now to discuss players' contracts or trades or any of that, so if there's something to report, we'll announce it. We're really focused on the guys that are here. We've had real good participation. It was good to get back on the field this week. Really this was the first time since Miami, so the work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was good."

That being said, do you appreciate the approach that a Lance Moore or Roman Harper have taken by being present while not having signed their tender?

"Yes. I've said this earlier; you go back with Jahri (Evans) a year or two ago. Every year it's a little bit of what you have to deal with. You're trying to from a coaching aspect, to get some new things in and make sure the players are in shape. The main thing focus in May, even before May in April is really getting their bodies in the best shape, that the guys that are injured are going through the proper rehab, giving them the best chance so that when they start training camp they're healthy and they're mentally and physic ally ready to compete for jobs and ready for full uniform, because right now they're just in helmets."

Has Malcolm Jenkins made an official move to safety?

"He has. We'll move him around. He's working at free. He's a guy that has good versatility. He can come down and play in the box. He can play in the safety position, in the nickel packages. Gregg (Williams) and those guys will do a great job of utilizing his skill set, but he's doing well and working primarily at free safety."

How much can a guy like Clint Ingram learn from people like Darren Sharper and Will Smith just being around here the first week?

"For anything, when a player comes from one program to another in our league, he's getting acclimated. For Clint, the focus is the rehab. Certainly the mental reps, these guys that aren't able to take the physical reps are still watching film and they're listening to the installs. There is a little bit of a learning curve, yet he was with Gregg a year and a half ago in Jacksonville, so there will be some carryover."

Would Jammal Brown have been healthy enough to practice?

"Yes. Without having seen him recently, I think he is someone that is fully healthy and recovered, from the timeline of what he had done. I would say yes, no question."

How does the draft class look this first time with the full team participating in workouts?

"They're doing well. There's a lot being thrown at them, a lot more than at the first rookie camp a few weeks ago. Patrick (Robinson) had a good first practice Tuesday and made some plays on the ball. All of them are trying to acclimated and get as much of the offense or defense learned as possible. It's hard without the pads on, especially some of the interior positions. We've been pleased. It's hard to single out someone after these three OTAs because their reps drop a lot from the rookie camp, the amount of snaps they're getting. They're hanging in there. They're in the weight room. They'll be here the better part of next week. They have some catching up to do in regards to the training aspect of it."

Can you talk about your meeting with Joe Horn this week at the Saints Hall of Fame Golf Tournament?

"I knew he was playing and I had just come in after we had finished. His group was shortly behind us, maybe a minute or so. It was good to see him. It's been a long time. As I've said before, he's an awfully engaging personality, one that's easy to gravitate to. He was a part of this rebuilding program. His accomplishments certainly prior to us getting here and during the '06 season (were tremendous). It was good to visit with him. He looks like he's in real good shape. It wasn't a pleasant surprise because I knew he was playing and hopefully we'd have a chance to say hello."

Were there any impressions from specific newcomers, veteran or rookie?

"I think the one thing that's interesting is how they carry their pads and we're not in pads yet. In training camp, they put their pads on and they're in a full uniform, you're always anxious to see how they carry their uniform. Because of the process they go though, you have a pretty good handle on what they run and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You do see some things when you go through the rookie minicamp and through the course of these workouts, whether it's with the first round pick or someone you signed after the draft. There are a number of things. The long snapper out of TCU, (Clint) Gresham is a guy who had a lot of velocity. It helps the competition level of your team. We brought in a corner, a center, a left tackle, and quarterback. Sean's (Canfield) getting a lot of work right now with only three quarterbacks and you go on and on with those positions, you just hope you're not just improving your team, but developing the competition with the guys ahead of them."

Do you think that it has helped your team by a lack of roster upheaval and changes to the coaching staff?

"With the coaching staff, you never take that for granted. We've lost a handful of coaches in the past to colleges or other jobs. Sometimes when you play this late in the year as we did in the postseason, you worry, because your staff is one a lot of people are attracted to. I think we have a great staff. I don't ever take that for granted. Someday, a lot of these guys are going to really progress into better positions. In regards to our roster, you go into the offseason. You're hopeful you can fill some needs. We lost Scott (Fujita) early in free agency and Mike Bell. Those are always difficult losses, because those are guys you won with a year ago, but I think the minute we finished playing in Miami, there's that reality that you're not going to have the same team back. I think it's important to evaluate closely and not get maybe misguided to think everybody returns and you pick up where you were at. You're always trying to improve and we've had some attrition and I think we've picked up some key pieces in some guys like Alex Brown. We mentioned Clint (Ingram) and some of these other players. It's just finding a role for them and finding a vision for the role that you had when you signed them. I think it's important that you have a clear vision for the player."

What do you think of Alex Brown?

"He's athletic. He can collapse the pocket. He's pretty quick off the edge. He's someone that's acclimated himself pretty well. I think he's a good teammate. A lot of our background information that we had gathered said that much so, being around him and the player's being around him, I think he's a quick study. Those are all things that I think we'll help him."

Are you still considering bringing in a veteran quarterback?

"We'll see. We're a little restricted in regards to free agency signings or signings of unrestricted free agents in regards to the final four rule, but there's still a lot of time here before we break, really a month. We'll evaluate that. Whether we go to camp with three or not. I'd probably lean towards four if we could, but you're limited with your camp numbers. We've taken three before to camp. We'll keep looking at it and seeing how these younger guys are doing in the meantime."

Could Chase Daniel be Brees' backup?

"It's hard to tell. You want him to compete for that position. I think you're going to ask me, can he be a backup? The key is that you want to give him those opportunities and yet you realize it's his second year. He's receiving a lot of work right now; he and (Sean) Canfield are getting a lot of snaps. That's what they need."

Is Daniel a guy that you'd like to give a lot of work to going into the preseason?

"Yes. He'll get a lot of snaps and he's someone that we evaluated off of tape from Washington a year ago and we liked some of the things that we saw. He'll get a lot of snaps this preseason."

What intrigues you about him?

"He's a good foot athlete and has picked up our system well. He's a little bit of an unknown. He ran the scout team last year with Mark (Brunell), but he is someone that makes plays with his arm and feet. He's been a guy that has had a lot of success throughout his career."

Do you think Jammal Brown and Pierre Thomas will he here next weekend when it's mandatory?

"Again, I can't comment or predict. Usually there is a difference right now. We are in a voluntary aspect of a program. I don't know. I think both those guys are competitors. Both those guys stay in shape and work hard."

Do you see anything different in Darren Sharper this year?

"His role is hopefully the same. The key is going to be the rehabilitation of the injury and getting back into his playing shape. Without speaking for him, his battle is getting himself healthy and back on the field. That's really where his challenge lies. He does have good instincts, a way of being around the ball and good ball skills. I think more importantly than anything else is battling the health issues."

Have you thought about addressing with your team, the pitfalls of trying to repeat?

"We've discussed that. I think that we've put up charts. We've just discussed history, that would be a number of topics. Today, we received the penalty stats from a year ago. You take these days and opportunities. Really that topic was the first topic we brought up in the offseason program, history as it pertains to winning a championship, what are the challenges and trying to identify them and then as coaches and players and a group collectively of battling that challenge. That's the thing that gets your blood going a little bit and getting you excited about the upcoming year is knowing that it's been difficult. I think we have a smart enough locker room to understand the challenges and it will be another season.

Is there any specific data for that?

"What we specifically tried to do was to go back five years and look at our league and expand past our league to some other sports, but the theme of it was what the hurdles are the next year? Certainly the length of season is different. Your schedule is different. You're coming in the next year and nobody in your division or anybody outside your division is going to take you lightly and you certainly view it as a big game. I think equally as challenging are those internal battles when you have success. I think that's something you have to look at always."

Was there a moment when you thought your 2009 season could be special?

"I thought we could be pretty good in training camp. You don't know how the injuries can shake out in the preseason. We won our third game in Buffalo. It was a game where we played well defensively and we ran the ball well in the second half to get the win. The two road wins early were important. Philly and Buffalo. When you start the season 3-0, those numbers as you research them are pretty good as it pertains to getting into the postseason. I think that you're always guarded a little bit, but I think there was certainly a confidence level and it was a different team from the year before."

Can you talk about the Cardinal game in the playoffs?

"The Cardinal game was significant because we were really struggling going into that game. We had lost a tough game to Dallas and lost to Tampa Bay and had a big lead. After the Tampa loss, we kind of hit that crisis in our season where we had to really battle through that. I think going to Carolina, we made the decision to sit tight with our players and get ready for Arizona. There was X amount of pressure to play well in that game because we had lost three games in a row, so I think that was important. That game gave us some renewed confidence. I thought we were a little fresher and better rested."

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