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Coach Sean Payton discusses Friday's Saints practice

Team worked out at Tulane's Yulman Stadium


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 28, 2015

Opening statement: "Overall, there was a little bit of an emphasis on the Houston game and then we had some periods of offense versus defense. It is the first time, for me, being in this stadium and I think it is a great setup. It's a good feel, especially on a Friday night."

What did you think of the overall tone of practice?

"I thought it was good. We'll look at the film. It is always better when you are working the competitive periods. The parted periods seem to be more of a teaching period where you are working on looks that you're going to see (or) that you don't necessarily run, offensively and defensively. I thought overall that it was pretty good."

It looked like you had Ryan (Griffin) running a lot of the Houston stuff tonight.

"Well, the quarterbacks typically will decide who is going to get the look-team reps. Then if you look at the team reps, Drew (Brees) had 'X' amount, Ryan had the last six of redzone, Luke (McCown) had six in third down and Garret (Grayson) had six. From a rotational standpoint (Offensive Coordinator) Pete (Carmichael) and (Quarterbacks Coach) Mike (Neu) do a good job. We just kind of lay out (the rotation) before practice of how they are going to unfold. With regards to the look-team, when you get into the season, it is really up to the backup how many reps he wants and then the next player. I thought overall that it was good."

How will you do that in the game on Sunday? Who will come in after Drew?

"Our plan right now is to play Luke quite a bit and then in the second half you're going to see both Ryan and Garrett."

How come Luke and Ryan seem to rotate in practice but in the last couple of years in games, it has been more Luke ahead of Ryan. Is it that Ryan hasn't passed him?

"We'll put together a plan and make a decision based on how we think and who we want to see with that particular group."

How has Willie Snead progressed throughout camp?

"I think that he has done well. He is one of those guys that is very competitive. He has some really good football instincts. He is right there in the thick of it when it is competing for playing time or competing for a roster spot. I think that he does a lot of things well. He is smart. He made a couple of plays tonight, so he is doing a good job."

With Drew, are you looking for a number of plays or number of series?

"I think we'll see a handful of plays. You are not going to see three quarters like back in '06 or '07, those early years. We'll get him some work and then we'll get into our rotation."

You had some expectations with this camp; looking back, do you feel like you got the work in that you wanted to?

"I think so. First off, the week that we just had in New Orleans, weather-wise was unusual. It was fantastic. I liked coming here. This was something that I think that we would certainly explore doing again. This was (General Manager) Mickey (Loomis) and I on the practice field talking Wednesday. Kind of a last minute idea. The work we had down in West Virginia was good. Every year you deal with a handful of nagging injuries and you are always hoping that that is a smaller number. I think overall we have been pleased with the setup. Our transition back here has been real smooth. Playing in another preseason game before the final one, I think, helps."

Do you and the Texans agree on how much to use your starters?

"There hasn't been any communication with regards to how we are playing our guys. (Texans Head Coach) Bill (O'Brien) is someone that I would talk to and yet, in this game, I think that a lot of that is a coach's choice. (It is) No different than the week with New England practicing. Sometimes you saw Drew maybe out there versus their second defense or you saw Tom (Brady) out there versus our (second defense). You are really working and worrying about your own team."

Would resting starters on Sunday have an impact on the atmosphere?

"We are still going to treat this like a game atmosphere, and we are going to look at closely who has gotten a ton of reps. Rafael Bush and Cam Jordan both have very high pitch counts; I think we will be looking more specifically to the player, because some guys have played more than others, and those others might get some more action this game."

Does staying in a hotel help create the right mindset?

"That's normal. We always stay in a hotel the night before a game, now the hotel varies a little bit, but yeah, that's normal."

What is the message to the team while transitioning toward preparing for the season?

"I would say any message is still spent on the roster. It's still spent on the training camp mode. It's not like we have turned that page and cut down to 53 players, and we are getting prepared for Arizona. It's still spent on the evaluation of these players. This game is important, and it may not be important for some of the players, but I would say it's the most important game of the season for a number of players."

What is the level of difficulty of the process of making roster cuts?

"Any round of cuts is difficult, but, to your point, when you go to 53, it's very difficult because there's a lot of hours spent on a handful of players. When you go from 90 to 75 players, it's difficult because of the time spent on so many of these guys. The investment that they put in starting back in the offseason program and in the spring and summer makes it very difficult; I don't know how other teams do it, but I know how we do it, and we will spend time with each player. That's still a long way away to me; I know it's next week, but the focus is this week."

What is the effect of cutting someone compared to placing them on the practice squad?

"When you are getting down to your final 53, you're looking for the right group. Clearly, the thought process as to who is practice squad eligible enters your mind, and yet, there's never a time where you're thinking, well, we can slip this guy to the practice squad, because when you start doing that, you start making the wrong decisions. Our focus is the 53, and then certainly when you're getting down to that number, you're also looking at those 10 practice squad candidates. That is two weeks away, and that seems like two months from now."

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