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John DeShazier: Sean Payton calls Marcus Williams 'a special guy'

Payton: 'He’s extremely athletic, he’s smart, teammates love him'

Orlando – Sean Payton hasn't needed to speak to safety Marcus Williams in order to gauge how Williams' psyche is holding up this offseason.

Williams' stellar rookie season (four interceptions, second on the team, and 73 tackles) was stained by a missed tackle in New Orleans' NFC Divisional Playoff game against Minnesota, which led to the Vikings scoring the game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation in a 29-24 loss.

But Payton said that Williams, the team's second-round draft pick in '17, appears to be fine.

"Shoot, every time I turn on my little Twitter feed, he's frickin' jumping over frickin' buildings," Payton joked Tuesday morning, at the NFL's Annual Meeting. "That's what you love about him, though. You're always mindful that he's not overtraining. But he epitomizes all the things we're looking for. He's extremely athletic, he's smart, teammates love him. He had a fantastic rookie year and I think that I'm sure, like anyone else, he's anxious to get started again. He's a special guy."

Here are a few more bits and pieces from Coach Sean Payton's 43-minute media session Tuesday morning from the NFL's Annual Meeting.

HUGE HOLE: Don't underestimate the void created by the departure of offensive lineman Senio Kelemete. Kelemete was versatile enough to play all five line positions and started games at left and right guard last season (he also played right tackle in the season opener after Zach Strief was injured).

"You say, well, how much did he really play last year?" Payton said. "He played 67 percent of the snaps. So, let's just for arguments sake, say he played much like a nickel (corner). That would be approximately how much the third corner plays in today's game, close to 70 percent of the snaps depending on the game. So clearly, he's playing the same amount of reps as a starter. So part of that is injury flexibility. And I think replacing him still is something that is on the hit list."

COACHES IN WAITING: Payton said he believes the Saints have several head coaches on his staff. Three – defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, linebackers coach Mike Nolan and assistant head coach/tight ends Dan Campbell – already have been head coaches (Allen, Nolan) or interim coaches (Campbell).

"D.A. certainly has shown that potential and does a great job, and is continuing to do a great job for us," he said. "You look at a guy like (secondary coach) Aaron Glenn, you look at a guy like Dan Campbell, (offensive coordinator) Pete Carmichael, (quarterbacks coach) Joe Lombardi has been an offensive coordinator. I like this group as a staff. Ryan Nielsen, our defensive line coach, is outstanding. I'm not going to hit every coach here. (But) you want to see your guys have success like that."

IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY: Payton, a first-time member of the NFL's Competition Committee, said there's a lot of work involved. "There's a lot of time spent on the language of our rules, trying to look at each one, whether it's catch/no catch," he said. "But I enjoy it. It's all the details of things that we think can help our game be better."

A LIGHT TOUCH: Payton peeled off several humorous lines during his media availability, perhaps none more than one directed at himself. When asked if he had a favorite radio call of the retired Jim Henderson, who served as the Saints' play-by-play radio personality from 1986 through last season, Payton said:

"Our hat's off to him. He had a great career. Not only a great career, the passion he had for us as a team. And I didn't get a chance to listen to a lot, but I had a year where I listened to a lot."

Smirking, Payton was referring to the 2012 season, which he sat out while serving a league suspension.

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