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Transcript: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton training camp interview - Friday, Aug. 21

Payton spoke with media on the team's progression Friday at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Training camp video call with New Orleans media
Friday, Aug. 21, 2020

Starting off today, how was your run after practice today during conditioning for the players?
"My run? Yeah, I took one rep with the DB's. It was good. I'm still breathing"

We're about to have two storms in the Gulf for the first time in recorded history. Have you started working on anything about how this might affect what you do? I'm guessing you're at least watching it right?
"It seems to come up every couple of years during training camp, Mickey (Loomis) and I will visit, we will begin to look at some logistics and pay attention to it closely. It has happened to us before actually, ironically, the last time I could think during training camp was we were scheduled open at home versus Tampa (in 2008). We did play a home game versus Tampa, but we had to leave a week prior to the start of that regular season and train in Indianapolis for the better part of about seven or eight days and then fly back on that weekend to open the season. It's certainly unique and hopefully those things can dissipate and have as much of minimal effect on everyone."

Have you seen things you've liked from the defense in its entirety so far?

"Each practice you watch when you look at the tape, you see things that are encouraging. Obviously, you see some things you want to get cleaned up. Today, we were working a lot on third down. I thought the defense had a pretty good day. We turned it over defensively and we will look at the tape and make some corrections, but overall, I think they have their legs underneath them. I'm talking about the team in general. We have a lot of work to do, but we're putting it in right now."

With Taysom not there today you got more looks at Jameis (Winston). What did you see from him?

*"I thought he had some good reps. He has picked up what we are doing very quickly. He stands in the pocket, he can throw from some awkward positions. It doesn't have to be perfect around him. So I've been encouraged with his progress."

Mike Zimmer up in Minnesota said that next week they were going to go to the stadium and just kind of try to recreate a game-like atmosphere. Is that something you plan on doing at all? Going to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and just trying to make it as real as possible.
"Yeah, we've got two days. We've got two different times where we're going to go there. We're going to go there and scrimmage and then we're going to go there again the following week. So we've kind of outlined or really put on the calendar two different dates that we're going to be there."

How does the versatility and depth you guys have at safety open things up and allow you to do different things?
"I think with as much receiver sets as we get, not just on third down, we get them in the early down. Some teams are predominantly playing 11 personnel. Having some flexibility, whether it's safety, guys that can play down over a slot receiver in the nickel or buffalo packages. Yeah, I think that those are those are valuable traits and I think we're deeper there than we have been."

I know you have a close relationship with Ron Rivera from your battles in the NFC South, did you have any thoughts on the news of his cancer yesterday? Have you had a chance to reach out or anything?
"No, listen, I hadn't yet. I just saw it this morning. That hits home with all of us, and he's just getting his program started there. Obviously, we pray and wish him well. And at some point today, I'm sure I'll have a chance to shoot him a text."

Is there something about Marshon Lattimore's personality that makes him kind of receptive to hard coaching?

*"I do not know if it is his personality per se, I'd be willing to bet he had it in high school. I know he had it at Ohio State and I think that he's able to focus and keep his attention on improving each practice. Yes, I think he's one of those guys that he's used to it. He does not get defensive about it and I think those are all good signs of a competitive player."

What are you seeing from Tommy Stevens and how he's adjusting to the NFL and his role within the team?
"Look, he's had some plays in the kicking game. There's a play today where he did a good job as a punt hold up player. He runs extremely well. Obviously, there's a large learning curve for what he's doing. And yet I've been encouraged with his approach each day. He'll correct the mistake and not let it affect him on the next play. But he's green and he's got a lot of work in front of him."

With the way you guys do installs and things like that, when you start putting the pads on, does either side ever have an inherent advantage to start off training camp, like the offense or defense?
"I'd describe it a little bit more as an ebb and flow. There are days where you come off the field and today, for example, you felt like the defense had a little bit better practice in the team periods. You come off a day like yesterday maybe and felt the other way around. So it kind of goes back and forth when you are working against each other. And that's not unusual."

Cameron Jordan is now going into year 10. He has not missed a game in nine years of defensive end and I know Demario Davis, I think seven years without missing a game. As a coach, what kind of luxury is that to have that reliability, durability and not take that for granted day in and day out?

"That's an important trait in our league, availability of a player. Those guys both train hard. Obviously, there's a certain amount of innate skill set, flexibility, athleticism that they possess and yet they take great care of their bodies and it's hard to have a real good career if you are spending a lot of it In the training room, and I know that is not always a player's wish, or not always a player's fault. Some of that's good fortune. And yet with those two players, that stamina, the thing with both of them's on play number 58, 62 in the game, it is going to look similar to play number eight or 10. So they're in very good shape."

I've noticed Malcolm Jenkins has the same kind of background in terms of missing very few games, is that something when you're all looking at players that you can evaluate in your personnel procurement?

"If you go all the way back to the history of the combine, the purpose of that event was instead of 32 teams working out players (from) all around the country, but rather to find out where they are medically. The purpose of the event was to combine medical information, so all 32 clubs would have access to the same injury history data. When you're preparing for the draft, players that have a higher risk of injury are graded in that fashion with a medical grade that sometimes can be the difference in selecting a player or not. Obviously, your utopia for a draft pick is someone with a one or a two medical grade that's clean, and that possesses all the traits that you're looking for. Now, is that always the case when we draft players? No. You're asking about the vision from a football standpoint, but we also talk about the vision relative to their health. So those are things we pay attention to."

Taysom (Hill) said his wife is expecting a baby any day now. Is that why he missed practice for good news, hopefully?
"Yeah, and listen, I am going to wait for him to announce it. But I know that they are doing well. I know that they're in good hands and yeah, I'm not going to be the one that spoils that."

Janoris Jenkins has been standing out lately in practice. How much of a bonus was it to get him late last season so he could get acclimated and now he looks like a million bucks out there?
"Yeah, look, I think he helped us last year. He's a player with very good instincts. He's a player that I think is a good tackler. He can he can turn the ball over. I like his ball skills. I would agree with you, he's had a good camp so far. And that's been a big plus for us to get another quality corner in our program."

Emmanuel Sanders and Deonte Harris and Ty Montgomery are getting a lot of attention right now in practice, but one name that I haven't been hearing much of is Tre'Quan Smith. Can you speak for what you've been seeing on a Tre'Quan these practices?

"He had a real good play today, a third down snap. Look, some of the things that he's asked to do occasionally is more physical in nature, but I think he's come (here) in great shape. He's strong. He's an important part of what we're doing offensively. He is one of those players that will make a catch in traffic that a lot of guys may necessarily not have the same appetite for. But he's tough player, and he's doing well."

What about Marquez Callaway? What have you seen from him?

"There's been glimpses. He has speed. He had a few snaps today where you see it in special teams. He certainly has the one, two. He's, obviously, learning at a very quick pace, because this whole group they're coming in at a little bit of a disadvantage. We talked about this last night. They're coming in without maybe the foundation they normally would have. Then the other element that they're having to deal with is without playing any preseason games, how do we know who these guys are? We talked about this a night ago, telling a story about making a first impression. So these practices, in essence, become their preseason games. All of its being evaluated, but he's a player we're looking closely at, I've been encouraged with some of his progress."

*Potentially, how good you think this secondary is? Do you think this has a chance to be one of the better ones you've had? **"Ed (Daniels), It's a good question. I'd say this, I think it will go hand in hand with how we play as a front. I think we have a chance to be a pretty good rush front and certainly that can benefit the secondary and they go together. So hopefully we look back at the end of the season and say that. I think that I'm encouraged with our depth there, leadership, football intelligence. We just have to keep working day by day, but hopefully we get to that point where week in and week out we're relying on not only the guys that are in the starting lineup, but we have versatility and some flexibility at positions."

Do you think you're pretty deep there in general?

"I think we have depth there more than a year ago. I think at corner we're probably similar to where we've been. Inside nickel and safety, we have a little bit more flexibility with a couple additions."

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