The New Orleans Saints completed their third minicamp practice at noon today in front of their fans at the club's practice facility in Metairie. Following the practice, Saints Coach Sean Payton discussed the progression of the minicamp and the offseason, as well as several othe team issues in a question and answer session.
Opening Statement:"For this afternoon's practice were are probably going to go inside. I thought we got good work this morning and the weather held up."
What held Malcolm Jenkins back?
"Basically he has a bruised knee. He probably won't go this afternoon; we'll see how it feels in the morning. Fortunately it's just a knee contusion."
Do you like what you see from him so far?
"Yes, since he's been here, whether it's been from defense, snaps on defense, or in the kicking game, he just keeps getting better and learning."
How far along are Devery Henderson and Jon Stinchcomb from their sports hernia surgeries? They seem like they are doing pretty well.
"I think our goal with both of those players is too hopefully get them some work here before we break. That means we got have more weeks of OTAs after this mini camp so you have to progress as they feel. They're working out. They're involved in the walk-throughs. Hopefully, sooner than later, as it's a little bit harder to put a timeframe on it. Probably in Jon's case, the restrictions in his position, might be a little different than in Devery's. But hopefully before we break here in the middle of June."
Are they faster? I mean they are out there running.
"These things progress pretty quick. When you go back through the season, and you look at Jabari's (Greer), and we've had a handful of players now that have gone in that direction. It's hard to just say it's going to be four weeks or three weeks, you're always somewhere in that month to month and a half range, 4-6 weeks. And a lot of it is dependant on the amount of work, not each one of them is exactly the same. We are hopeful though that those two are going to get some work here before we break."
You've had about a week or so of practice watching Jimmy Graham come in, how does he fit in the system?
"He's doing well. He's just getting a lot, getting acclimated, there's a lot to learn. Certainly, when the pads come on for him, at that position, you're learning protections, you're learning the run game, you're learning the pass patterns, so there's a lot that goes on. He's handling it well, especially for a rookie."
It seems like a lot of the reps he's getting is when Drew Brees is the quarterback, is that right?
"Well, each one moves up, we are trying to get him some work, David Thomas, of course, is getting some work, and the rest of those guys —we try to split the reps into thirds. If you're looking at one team period, so you are seeing him get more work, and I think it's been productive, and I think it's helped, certainly, his learning curve and just the snaps, not only the ones Jimmy is getting, but the rest of these rookies. But you are seeing him take some work with the ones."
How is Heath Evans' recovery progressing?
"He's doing well. He's probably ahead of schedule. He's doing more than we thought he would have at this time. We feel like he'll be ready for training camp. We just have to monitor how many snaps in training camp, how many two a day practices. We'll probably limit him to one practice a day during that time, but he's getting some 7-on-7 work now and some individual work in and that's a little further along than we expected today.
Is there any type of timetable in terms of when he's coming back to full speed?
"I think it's just progression, just going back slowly and with the nature of his surgery, you're really looking at that training camp window."
Talk about the performance of the special teams, particularly Thomas Morstead and Garrett Hartley?
"You know both those players kicked well for us in big spots. Thomas in his rookie season did a fine job of coming in and he's matured, has a real good handle his skill set and what he needs to do to correct problems and he's got a pretty good routine. Garrett has a live leg, obviously he kicked well for us in the season before. Those are two good young players that we're excited about."
Are the Flyers becoming a distraction for you and Jahri Evans?
"Well the problem is that after moving from Philadelphia, I moved to Chicago, and so there's a huge Blackhawk contingent (among friends and family). What is it? 2-2 now. Clearly, Jahri is on the Flyers side. I honestly am leaning towards the Blackhawks, so we might have to bet something here."
Because it's been longer since they've won?
"It's been forever since they won."
The Flyers I think won in 1974?
"(19)74-75. They won back to back while I was living there. Both teams have great traditions, so it should be exciting. 2-2 and it's going back to Chicago, so I might want to bet him a cheesesteak or something."
It looked like the fans were really enjoying the rookies. Can you talk about how they are getting acclimated to this?
Well it's their first chance to really see these guys. A lot of you have had a chance to see them in OTA work already and rookie camp, but it's their first chance. They've read and seen pictures of them and it's their first chance today in practice to really lay their eyes on them. Not only the rookies, but some of the new free agents that we've signed. I think that's always exciting. They read a lot and see what's written, but today's a day when they can finally come out and see the players. I think that's important."
How are the issues with Jeremy Shockey's back?
"I think that it's getting better. Today, he got some team reps. I was pleased with that. Really it's just the heat and the ice before the soreness goes away, and that's what he's fighting through right now. I was encouraged that he got some more work today, and we'll see how he feels this afternoon."
Do you think your rookies are overwhelmed a little to come to a Super Bowl champion team and to deal with all of that?
"By nature, most of them are competitive, and they had to as freshmen four or five years ago establish themselves at a college level. They're kind of doing it all over again. So, I think that it's a challenge, but they embrace that. If you're drafting the right guy, then he wants that."
Are you going in or outside this afternoon?
"I think we're going inside. I think that's the plan."
How do you mark progress as a team for these offseason workouts?
"I think there's some patience involved. Our objective really is to try to get better each day with some specific area with what we're doing. Tomorrow, we'll be in this nickel work and third down. We'll do that for a couple of days and move into the red area. I think it's just the little steps along the way and really working just on that practice and that specific team drill. If you do that then you're making progress."