New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees addresed the media following a two and a half our practice indoors today in preparation for Sunday's game vs. Cleveland. Payton talked about a roster move involving placing Randall Gay on Injured Reserve, the signing of CB Quincy Butler and the return of S Darren Sharper to practice. Brees, back to work following the birth of his and his wife's second son Bowen yesterday, talked about the experience of being a father for the second time as well as the challenges of Cleveland's 3-4 defense. Below are transcripts:
Opening Statement:"From a roster standpoint, we signed cornerback Quincy Butler, number 43, we placed cornerback Randall Gay on injured reserve and we terminated linebacker Clint Ingram off of PUP. The following players were full on the injury report: Drew Brees (knee) was full; Jon Stinchcomb (shoulder) was full; Zach Strief (knee) was full; Anthony Waters (hamstring) was full; Leigh Torrence (shoulder) was full; Jeremy Shockey was limited with the flu; Jahri Evans (hamstring) was limited; Julius Jones (shoulder) was limited; Patrick Robinson (knee) was limited; Will Smith (groin) was limited; Roman Harper (hamstring) was limited. The following players did not practice: Scott Shanle (hamstring), Jabari Greer (shoulder), Reggie Bush (fibula), Tracy Porter (knee) and Pierre Thomas (ankle). Most of today was base."
What went into the decision to put Randall Gay on IR?"A lot of it just revolved around the symptoms and the frequency of the concussions he had this year. When the symptoms came back from his concussion in San Francisco they were pretty significant. We spent a lot of time on that decision in visiting with not only our in-house doctors but also the outside specialists and we felt like it certainly was in the best interest of the player. It's disappointing when it happens this early in the season but it's something that I'm sure was a concern, not only for the player and his family, but for us, and we made the decision."
Could that possibly be career-threatening?"I wouldn't say that. That's a good question but I wouldn't say that. I think more than anything else it was the symptoms lasting as long as they did and it being multiple times within a certain timeframe."
How did Darren Sharper look at practice today?"He looked pretty good. He got some reps and got some work with the scout team as well. We'll just keep evaluating him day-to-day."
Would he have been the equivalent of full on the injury report?"We don't have to list him, so…"
Is there any possibility of him playing this week?"We'll see. I wouldn't rule it out and yet I wouldn't say it's a definite."
Did Clint Ingram not pass his physical? Is that what led to him being released?"With Clint, we just didn't feel like he was making the progress physically. His effort in the rehab and going through this thing has been outstanding. But ultimately we just didn't feel like he was making the progress that we had hoped for. He'll continue to work out and rehab on his own. So it wasn't because he wasn't doing all the necessary steps to get healthy; it ended up being longer than we expected and that was that."
But did he pass the physical?"There's no physical. He wouldn't have passed a physical had we given him one, but that didn't take place."
Is he still a consideration perhaps down the road?"Yeah, we'll see. Just having him around, he's a guy that we enjoyed being with and having as a part of our team."
Can you make a decision to activate Sharper as late as Saturday or is there a cut-off?"It would be Saturday. Again with Darren, if you bring him up to the 53, you have to create a space."
How do you deal with the stance of suspending players who make helmet-to-helmet hits now? What do you tell your defensive players?"I think you're mindful of location. You're going to see more and more players going lower and lower."
*Is that a good thing? *"There are some that are more challenging. If you look at the hits from the weekend that were receiving the most attention, the most challenging one would have been Atlanta's versus Philadelphia. That happened so fast and (Dunta) Robinson's leading with the shoulder pad like you're supposed to and obviously he got a significant fine. So I think the landmark will begin to go lower and lower."
Is that something you addressed today?"Nothing specifically. At some point during the week we'll talk about it."
Do you think some of your players might disagree with the ruling?"I think more than anything else it's just making sure that it's clear and that when we talk specifics, what are we teaching and what are we coaching. Certainly it's for the health of the players so more than anything else, it's just getting used to it."
Did some of the standards on concussions put in place over the past few years play into the decision to put Gay on IR? Would that have happened three years ago?"That's a good question. Certainly he would have seen an expert. When you have the symptoms as long as he had after the play in San Francisco, I think the outside experts would have been very cautious and might have led us to the same conclusion. But with the awareness and where we are – if you had said 10 years ago, it probably wouldn't have happened. But I think we're a lot further along as it relates to player concussions, player safety and long-term side effects than we were in years past."
What can you tell us about Quincy Butler?"He has good ball skills; he has good range and good size. He had a good workout with us a week-and-a-half ago. He got some good reps in today and we have to get him up to speed as soon as possible."
What did you see from Colt McCoy last week?"You see poise; you see a calmness about him. He's played in big games at Texas. He's a guy that we evaluated and liked in this year's draft. He's an accurate passer. Just on film when you watch, he has those leadership qualities that give confidence to the overall unit. Those are some of the things that you see. Certainly his first start in Pittsburgh is a tough assignment and he handled that pretty well."
In the determination to make Sharper active, would it just be his health or does the role that he could play based on the players you would have to release factor into it?"You probably would factor in all of the above. Where's he at from a health standpoint? Do we feel like he's close to 100% and if so, what's the role? All of that gets factored in when you make a decision like that."
With Randall out and with Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter also hurt, would you give any consideration to moving Malcolm Jenkins back to cornerback?"No, right now Leigh Torrence is someone who has played a lot of snaps for us. Obviously Patrick (Robinson) is playing and playing pretty well. With the addition of Quincy (Butler), we feel like we'll be solid and yet we'll always have contingency plans. I'm still hopeful that Jabari has a chance here this week. We were fortunate with the news on his injury. He felt pretty good today. We didn't practice him and we'll see where he's at tomorrow. That would obviously give us more flexibility."
When Patrick Robinson was made inactive for the game in San Francisco, do you think that served as an eye-opener for him?"I think with any transition for a rookie there are a lot of things. Trying to explain the inactives…in college, all 80 guys are on the sideline and ready to go and if they need one they grab one. The dynamics in our league as it pertains not only to the starting 11 or however many on defense and offense, but special teams and factoring in who the inactive players are going to be, I think they quickly gain an appreciation for that and begin to understand that. In his case, he's continued to make good progress and that's a good sign, especially for a young player. Are they getting better week by week and are they practicing well enough to give you the confidence to play them on game day."
Have you described Jabari Greer's injury?"It's a right shoulder."
What are your thoughts on Scott Fujita coming back to play here as an opponent, given that he was one of the first players you brought here in 2006?"He was. We were together in Dallas. He's someone that we certainly have a lot of respect for and was a big part of the building blocks early on. He's playing well for them in this 3-4 defense. He's a complete player; he plays in the base, he's playing in the nickel. He has a lot of versatility and I think he has provided leadership for them as well. Once again – and this happens quite often in our league because of free agency – a player comes back to play his old team. But watching the tape, he's doing a very good job."
Is too much made or is there any validity to the idea of him being able to provide an insider's view of your team to his new team?"I think probably more is made of that. The one area that we would spend time with on a player – for instance Jimmy Wilkerson before we played Tampa – as it pertains to personnel; strengths and weaknesses of certain players. But I think the video is the most important. You get all the games; you get all the preseason games. Maybe you can verify some things by asking questions; it wouldn't be the first time that has happened. Scott's very bright so he'll have a complete grasp of the packages that he's playing in defensively and certainly some of the things that we try to do offensively. But overall, I think probably a little bit more is made of that than merits."
QB Drew Brees
*Can you talk about the decision for you and your wife to name your son Bowen? *"We had a lot of good choices. Bowen has been mine since Baylen was born. I always hoped we would be able to give him a little brother. I always liked the name Bowen. We definitely explored all options and took into account the recommendations from people on Twitter and what they called the facility with or sent letters or dropped underneath my house. Thank you to everybody for your recommendations."
What is the next one going to be named?"I hope there are more and hope there are more boys. The more brothers the better. We'll definitely take a few of the names we had in this round into that round and maybe there will be a few more that jump out at that time."
When was the baby born?"The baby was born yesterday afternoon."
Did you get much sleep yesterday?"Not much. My wife got less. Obviously she's still recovering, but doing great. I slept in the hospital and obviously tried to be as helpful as I could, came over here early though to get caught up and ready. We actually went in Monday night because she was having some pretty good contractions. She had been going to the doctor the day before and the doctor had said you're ready anytime now. (She) didn't want the baby to get too big before the birth. We went in and kind of got prepped and ready that night just feeling like Tuesday was going to be the day. Sure enough she was ready to go. The contractions started hitting pretty good. It wasn't a long delivery thank goodness. I think part of it is because my wife stays in such great shape. He came out very quickly. It was pretty quick and painless. He's healthy and looks great, has big hands and big feet, looks like an athlete with the barrel chest, more fair skinned with light hair. Baylen came out with a full head of dark hair. This one has light hair. I don't know. It might be a blond, curly haired kid. Who knows?"
Does the name Bowen have any history with you?"It's not a family name. I was kind of chuckling because as I was getting some feedback with the names a lot of what I was getting was Beau. Obviously they were recommending the spelling Beau or Beaux, obviously with a Cajun flair. Actually we considered different spellings for Bowen, the traditional spelling of Bowen is what you see mostly and I guess you see it with people's last names. I don't know if you see anyone with the first name Bowen, at least anyone I've ever met with the first name Bowen. We started thinking can we throw in that Beauxe or Beau. If you're not from down here, if that kid went anywhere else besides South Louisiana, you'd have people botching his name left and right, so let's make it easy on this kid later in life and spell it the way that everybody can pronounce."
Did you and your wife plan the timing of the birth?"I'll be honest, she made it to full term obviously. 40 weeks was Monday the 18th and then she delivered on Tuesday the 19th. At 35 weeks, she was starting to dilate a little bit. It seems like the conductor told her to slow down. It was semi-bed rest. It was more just that my wife was exercising everyday. She wanted to stay in great shape. The better shape she's in prior to the pregnancy and the way she's able to maintain it the easier delivery it is, the faster she recovers afterwards, the better she feels. She eats well, she rests well, she exercises well, all those things. Just chasing Baylen around is exercise enough for her, so the doctor said to chill for two weeks. I just want you to get through 37 weeks and make sure the lungs are fully developed. If you do have it early, we don't want a situation where the baby's not fully developed and we keep him in the hospital for five weeks and then obviously a lot more worry with something like that. So, she made it past 37, then the doctor says you can exercise again and I don't care if it comes. We're good. I was on high alert. You see the stretch of road games at Arizona and at Tampa and you go oh boy. I could just see it. I'm on the plane, I arrive and here's a voice mail from Brittany saying she's heading to the hospital about to have this baby. I was just hoping that it would be during the week or a time that we would be there on a Monday or Tuesday right after a big win on the road, going onto a two week homestead. That's perfect timing."
You didn't miss any work?"No, I didn't miss any work. I came in Monday, worked out, did everything, just having a feeling she was getting really close. That night we decided to go in to be safe."
Aside from what's going on with your personal life, is looking at this Cleveland game realizing that what you did one week is hard to replicate?"We want to improve each week. I feel like we learned some lessons early on in the season. We battled through some things. We became maybe even more battle tested than we were. We were in a situation where a lot of guys are getting some playing time that you didn't know would be getting significant playing time at this stage in the season, just being banged up and such. It's one of those times for all of us to band together even more and we came off a big road win in the division, put ourselves at 4-2, which is hard to believe is the best record in the NFC at this point. We just want to keep grinding. It's one week at a time. I think this stretch, when you look at the brand of football that Cleveland plays and really that whole AFC North, it's tough. When you talk about the Pittsburgh's, Cincinnati's, Baltimore's and Cleveland's, here's all these teams used to being physical and beating up on one another, so we know the type of football they play. Obviously with our success in the run game last week we understand it's going to be even tougher as you face this team to be able to replicate that and you have to be even more disciplined and more detailed with what you're doing. Try to take advantage of teams for big plays. This is a team that pressures a lot. You have to be ready for the pressure packages and hopefully get some favorable matchups, get the balls to some guys in space when they're single covered and try to make some hay that way"
Do you believe in the concept of what people label a trap game in general and do you think that since you guys had some more lackluster performances earlier this year that it's not as much of a concern?"I look at this team. They might be a team with one win, but the fact of the matter is in six of their games they've led in the fourth quarter, so they've been right in at each one of these games and as we know in this league a lot of these times it can go one way or the other and it's a play here and a play there. I think they're well-coached. They have a lot of veteran players. I think they're the second most veteran team in the league. They have some experience and I think despite their 1-5 record, I know they're ready to play.
How well do you know Colt McCoy given your common Austin connections?"I met him for the first time this spring , this offseason actually at the Maxwell Awards. I couldn't be more impressed with him as a person. Everything that I've heard about him, he seems like a very solid young man and a great quarterback if you look at his accomplishments in college and it's interesting the scenario where he's been thrust into that starting role. Obviously I think for any young quarterback to get a chance to start and play as a rookie is a pretty exciting time."
Have you talked to Scott Fujita at all?"I've shot him text messages back and forth, obviously he's been asking about the baby and telling me congrats and looking forward to see me."
Is there anything he can provide to that team as far as insight to the Saints offense?"Yes, obviously practicing against the guy for four years. I guess anytime somebody goes to another team, you start thinking about is if there's stuff he can tell them about us. You change so much year to year, even if it's something really subtle in a certain concept. Unless you're in the huddle, I think we change things up enough year to year and week to week that it's hard to sit there and know exactly what's coming. Just from a personnel standpoint, anytime you step away from a team if you know a lot of those guys you might be able to say here there are strengths and weaknesses. I know him as a player."
What do you consider your track record against 3-4 defenses?"I think the fact that we played two 3-4 teams in the preseason, the Chargers and Patriots. The Patriots practiced against us for a few days as well. Already this year, the Cardinals, Niners. We have 3-4 teams here back to back with Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I feel like we're probably playing as many 3-4 teams as we have since I've been here in one season at least. I feel like we've gotten some readily good work at it and gotten pretty good at it. Obviously week to week, 3-4 teams have the ability to bring a lot of pressure, disguise it well, all that stuff and so each team's a little unique in the type of pressure packages they bring, so especially if it's a team you don't face all that often like an AFC opponent you're only going to see every four years, you're going to do a little bit extra studying for their personnel and scheme."
Does the last time you played Cleveland have a special place in your recall?"Yes, it's funny this will be the first time I've ever played Cleveland not in Cleveland. The first four times I ever played them it was in Cleveland. One game is obviously the first win in the Sean Payton era in 2006. We clinched the AFC West in 2004 with the San Diego Chargers in a game there where it was 20 below zero wind chill, a blizzard, about six inches of snow in the ground in December. A couple other games I can remember like it was yesterday. I don't know if it's something about the recall for football games. You just remember the circumstances surrounding them and the situations and different plays of the game that were memorable."
What's your take on the helmet to helmet hits?"The whole point is to protect guys. Anytime a guy has to miss a few weeks or go on IR because of a hit to the head. That's serious. You're talking obviously shortening a guy's NFL career, but what are the long term effects of some of these things. There has been a lot of talk and studies into that. You can see where the emphasis is being made. That first and foremost now is tough because you can't take away a guy's ability to play the game and play fast and not feel like they're having to slow down or question themselves out there, because that in turn causes hesitation and that causes injuries as well. Anytime you're not going full go. I think the emphasis is on hits on defenseless players. The one thing is if there's a ball carrier and it's out on the open field and you just take his head off. That's one thing. The other thing is a receiver running completely defenseless. He's up there and the quarterback's in the pocket delivering the ball and he's taking a shot here. There's certain cases, where you should really try to protect these guys. On the other hand there are the hits where he had the ball, out in the open field, takes a shot. That's part of the game unfortunately."
Is it an overreaction?"I don't think it's an overreaction. I just think you saw it week one in the season where there are a lot of serious injuries, a lot of guys are lost for the season with knees and shoulders, there are a lot of concussions that week one for some reason and then this just happened to be another week where it kind of happened again. You get some guys carted off the field, they're helped off the field because of helmet to helmet shots, just some serious situations that kind of all came together at once and caused people to wonder what's going on here. Fact is it's a violent game. Guys are big and strong and physical and on one hand it's what we sign up for. On the other hand you want to make it as humane as possible as far as taking care of the defenseless guys. When somebody can't protect themselves you're not just giving them free reign to come take their head off."
Would you have liked to see more dialogue with the players before the policy of suspending guys for first time offenses on this?"Yes. I think the NFL offices have a tendency to do that, especially lately. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with our pending negotiations with the CBA, but just a little bit of an attitude where we're going to go ahead and set the rules and determine what's best here without maybe fully including the player's association and other players into those discussions. I think unfortunately we've become used to that a little bit."
Along those lines do you feel for a guy like Randall Gay?"Yes. That's a perfect example. He gets a concussion a few weeks back, still getting dizzy, still the bright lights bother him outside on a sunny day, just some of those little things you think are simple, but get you thinking about life long term. The last thing I want is in my late 30's or early 40's to start having some of these brain, head, spinal issues, because of hits that I sustained as a player and didn't do anything about or recognize. In his case, it seemed like it was obviously the right thing to do for him. It wakes you up to it. There's plenty of retired players right now that are going through that. That's why I think the issues came to the forefront in the first place because it is serious and something that we have to look at."