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Payton & Brees Meet the Media

Coach & QB Preview Cardinals Game

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Post-Practice Press Conference

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Opening Statement:

"First I'll go through a couple of roster updates: we signed cornerback Leigh Torrence to the roster and placed safety Chris Reis on injured reserve. Then from a practice squad standpoint, we released quarterback Sean Canfield and signed cornerback Mark Parson, jersey number 38. The following players did not practice: Reggie Bush (fibula) did not practice, Will Smith (groin) did not practice, Pierre Thomas (ankle) did not practice. Tracy Porter (knee) did not practice; he had a scope done with his lateral meniscus, not his MCL. That was his procedure that was done and the best estimation would be three-to-four weeks. But it was his lateral meniscus. These players were limited: Roman Harper (hamstring), Jeremy Shockey (knee) and Pierson Prioleau (chest). Then the following players were all full: Marques Colston (rib) was full, Zach Strief (knee) was full, Chris Ivory (knee) was full, Randall Gay (foot) was full, Anthony Waters (hamstring) was full, Usama Young (quad) was full, Jon Stinchcomb (shoulder) was full, Drew Brees (knee) was full, Leigh Torrence (toe) was full, Jimmy Graham (ankle) was full, Stanley Arnoux (ankle) was full and Jimmy Wilkerson (knee) was full. That completes that list."

Are the additions to the injury report nicks that came up in the game on Sunday?

"We're just trying to be more thorough on this list."

Is there a reason why?

"We're just trying to be more thorough. We want to make sure that we list the appropriate guys. These are things they're dealing with. Obviously they're practicing with it. It's probably not unusual.

Does it seem to you like you've been bit pretty hard by the injury bug?

"If you went around the league, we'd probably be similar to everyone else. There are a couple of key spots – we're looking at the guys that didn't practice – a couple of running backs, a corner and an end. I think it's pretty typical of the other teams. Two running backs and the safety position in the game; those are things that all of a sudden you adjust with and they're not as spread out."

Can you elaborate any more about Pierre Thomas' status?

"The swelling has gone down. If I were to elaborate, I'd say that we feel real good about his progress. He's a lot further along today than he was a week ago today."

Did you bring safeties in for a look and just not sign any of them?

"Part of it was really the health of where Roman (Harper) is at and where (Pierson) Prioleau is at. It gave us a good chance to look at a few players and we'll see where we're at, but a lot of it had to do with the progress and the prognosis of the two guys I just mentioned."

So are you feeling better about Pierson?

"Yes; both Pierson and Roman."

Did you still bring guys in yesterday?

"We had two guys in – Harris and Watkins – two safeties that worked out. We had a chance to see them run and go through drills."

You mentioned that Sedrick Ellis played well on Sunday and it seems like he's been steady all along. Could you talk about the season he's having?

"I think that's accurate. He's getting a lot of productivity, both in the run and in the passing game. Certainly we saw it again this past weekend and that's encouraging. He's been able to stay healthy and his weight is right where we want it. He's having a good season so far. It's early but he's doing well."

Is he someone who if he can stay healthy can take a big step forward?

"I think he has that ability and I think he sees that in himself as well."

How difficult is it for a guy like Usama Young who's a converted cornerback to go from free safety to strong safety in the middle of a game as he did?

"There's obviously a learning curve. Some teams will play right and left safeties, which would be a little easier because then the formation or the positions are mirrored. In our defense, we play a strong and a free so it's not mirrored and it's probably a little bit more difficult than if we played right and left. But that's something that he adjusted to. It wasn't error-free or perfect, but he made the play we needed certainly in the fourth quarter and jumped in there and did a good job."

Do you think that if he doesn't make that tackle on Williams that he might have scored?

"I don't know that he would have scored but it certainly isn't going to knock them out of field goal range. It was an important play."

How is Patrick Robinson playing?

"He's doing better, number one on special teams and number two defensively. He's getting a lot of snaps now. I think the speed of the game for him and the mental aspect of what we're doing defensively is something that you see him picking up so we're encouraged with his progress and still there's a lot of work to do. He had a good practice today.

Drew Brees said after the game on Sunday that it was a 30-point effort. Can you grade that way?

"We talked about the game we just played with those scoring opportunities. You had the first fumble that results in no points and it's a turnover down at the one- or two-yard line and then you have another opportunity. I think all of us when we look hard at the film see those red zone chances and those possessions as ones where we can do a better job. That's where the focus is and will be this week as well."

Do you look positively at things you've done?

"When you critique where you're at, you build on the things you're doing well and yet you still have to point out where we have to be better. When you win a game like that and you put the film on, I think our players can see that as well."

Do you see a shift in what the Cardinals are doing offensively without Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin or are they still trying to do the same things?

"Clearly these are two different teams. It's seems like almost three years ago when we played them in the playoffs; it's been a while. There's a transition whenever you change out a quarterback and there are a number of different players on their roster, much like there are on ours right now. When they haven't turned the ball over, they've played well in their wins. When they've turned the ball over – no different than us – it has kept them from having the success that they want. There are a lot of veteran players on that team that have won a lot of games and when you look at Coach Whisenhunt's track record and what they've done there, it's a team that has won that division and been at the top of that division in the last few years. But certainly there are new players from the playoff game and that's something that you pay attention to and you try to look at the things that you'll get against your own team. What will they try to do if they start a young quarterback or if they're playing Derek Anderson? All of those things will come into play."

It's being reported that Max Hall will be at quarterback for the Cardinals. If that's the case, is it tough to go against a rookie that you don't have a lot of film on?

"Last week we had at least a full game and preseason and we'll go to preseason with Max and look at all the snaps we've seen him play and really evaluate his college grades and some of the college tape. More than anything else, there's a system that's in place for both teams, offensively and defensively, and you prepare for the system and yet you know that the change of a quarterback can result in certain things and you just have to be ready for that. But it's not as easy as when you have a six-game study or a larger body of work to study."

Did you take much of a look at Hall coming out of college?

"There are some similarities to Chase (Daniel), when you look at a quick release and a guy that had a lot of success in college. He plays with a lot of poise; he's accurate. You see some of those traits that you want in your quarterback position."

Considering your connection to Mike Ornstein, what is your reaction to the reports that came out yesterday?

"Just like anyone else, this was the first that we all heard of it. It's something that dates back to something further than 10 years ago so it's really just that. Not knowing any of the details and as far back as it went, that's really about it."

Did it surprise you to see that?

"Yes. He's having to work through that and obviously that's something that's very serious that I'm sure he'll handle. In the meantime, it really doesn't affect us here but it was news to us as well."

So you just found out yesterday?

"Yes, when you guys found out."

Is he here with you? Will he be with you in any capacity?

"He's not here. He has a job in L.A. You guys have read the book and heard what we said about him and what I said about him in the book. There's no capacity that he's in; he's just as staunch a supporter of us as anyone and that's really his capacity. Certainly the relationships that he has with a number of players and people here, stemming back from Reggie Bush really."

Do you step back away from the situation now?

"No. This is something he's working through. Really you'd have to ask him that – visit with him and call him and research. I know it goes back to '96. Outside of that, we're finding out just like you guys."

Have you talked to Chris Ivory about his fumbling?

"Yes. That's one of the things when you grade the tape. You'd be silly not to discuss ball security and how it's different at this level in comparison to where he's come from. The speed of the game is different and that's something that he has to work on and we'll correct it. He has enough ability and talent but that's something that he's going to work hard on and we're going to work to get corrected."

Would fumbling be something that would negate him getting on the field despite his ability?

"If the back continues to fumble, they become other team's backs. But I think it's something that we can get corrected."

Did you tell him that?

"I don't know if I told him just that way but I think it's understood."

When you brought in Ladell Betts the first time, how much of it was projecting where he could fit into your team despite his injury status at the time?

"You pay attention first to the pro grade prior to the injury. What's the pro grade? What do we think the player does? What's our vision for the player? Can he play in nickel? Is he just an exclusive runner? How is he in picking up the blitz? How is he as a receiver? That all being said, when the player is here you're mindful that he's coming off an injury and you know that there's going to be a period of time before he's 100% again. But he is an intelligent player. He can pick up the pressure and know who to pick up, not only in the base but in the nickel and has versatility. Then you look at the number of plays you're trying to give him and making sure that it fits. I was real encouraged to see his pad level on contact. He stepped up in a way where we needed him."

Do you really look closely at guys coming off of injuries, especially at collision positions?

"You still need to see it, and coming after the game I feel like we saw the things that we saw prior to him being injured, which is very encouraging. He's very focused; he's extremely smart. And smart players very seldom do the wrong thing. That was the case with him in the game we just played and I'm certainly glad he's here. He has experience and he runs with good pad level. He did a lot of good things the other night."

Can you update the kicking competition?

"No update. This was the first day out where those guys both took reps today and both of them are hitting the ball well. That's encouraging. I thought John (Carney) played well in his first time out and we'll continue to get both of these guys a lot of work during the week."

Will that be a gameday decision?

"Yes, probably the same."

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

How are you feeling this week?

"I feel good. I'm feeling better than last week so that's an improvement."

Obviously you've seen on film and in person a lot of points put up against this Arizona team. Does that make you feel like this should be your turn to strike?

"A lot of points have been put up against them when they've been on the road and when their offense has turned the ball over quite a bit and put them in some bad spots. There have been defensive touchdowns for the other team or special teams touchdowns, favorable field position. I don't think that's very evident of how their defense has played totally, but I think the way we look at it is they play very well at home. They play very well coming off of a loss. They rally and fix a lot of things going into the next game. They have some very talented players. They're a team that's made the playoffs the last two years. They represented the NFC in the Super Bowl two years ago and obviously they came here in the divisional round last year. We know they have experience in that way and they're used to winning. I know it probably hasn't gone the way they've planned this year, but no matter who we've played, it doesn't matter what their record is. They seem to pull out their best performance against us."

Last week you had said you guys were hungry for a high point performance or statement win. Has that increased?

"Now that we've kind of gotten through the first quarter of the season, you try to break down the season as much as you can into four quarters, four games each. We just completed this first quarter and let's take a look at it and we're 3-1, very close to being 4-0, yet look at all these areas that we have not done very well in. I think we've put our b, b minus performance out there for the most part the last four weeks and yet are still sitting in a very good position at 3-1. What happens if we start putting forth our a+ performance. I think that' obviously what we're striving for. We've set the bar high here. I think we knew we'd be getting all these questions last week, this week. We're a prideful bunch. We're not satisfied with the way we're playing, not putting up more than an average of 20 points a game. This offense prides itself on big plays, a lot of points, spreading the ball around and running the ball well, all the things we haven't quite done yet to this point."

Do you think you came closer in this last game to these objectives?

"Yes, because with the exception of two turnovers, which is the most important stat in football, but if you look at the tempo in which we played, the way we're able to move the ball, convert on third downs. I said in the press conference after the game that felt like a 30 point plus day and yet you throw the turnovers in the mix and you take away points from yourself. I felt like besides those two turnovers, which are crucial, we did a lot of things pretty well."

How different is the Cardinals defense from last year?

"I wouldn't say they're much different as far as the scheme and they have the ability to bring a lot of pressure. They're very good up front. When you look at them man for man, they're a very talented group and like I said before, I don't think when you turn on the film or see scores of their previous games where teams are scoring 41 or what have you, like I said, turnovers on the other side of the ball are putting them in a really bad spot. It's the same thing I said about Carolina's defense last week, but it's true. They've been put in a lot of tough spots. I know playing at home they kick it up a notch. The fact that they're playing us, an NFC opponent, coming off a loss. They're well coached. They're ready to play."

In the NFL, the injury bug can derail some good teams. How are you dealing with the injury bug bothering some of your key players more than last year?

"At this point, when you look at the running back position. Did I think at this point that Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory would be our two starting running backs going back to training camp? I don't think they were on the radar at that point. We brought Betts in midway through camp after Lynell Hamilton goes down and then P.J. Hill goes down. We obviously lost Reggie (Bush) here and Pierre (Thomas) will be coming back, but still it is what it is. I feel those guys have played very well for us. You look to last year; we kind of got bit by it mid to late season. Both corners are out. You have a safety out, a d lineman, somebody on offense. You have to find a way to respond. I think we've done a good job with the young players stepping in and trusting the scheme and everybody trusting each other to do their job and not do too much. Anytime some of your key components are not on the field, it's going to affect you a little bit and you just kind of wait for the time to put all the pieces to the puzzle back on the field.  I feel that the guys that have stepped in have done a very good job."

Do you feel like you're saving the scoring for the end of the season?

"I just feel like it's constant improvement. I don't think we wanted to score less than 20 on average the first four weeks. I can definitely tell you our goal was to win a majority of those games if not all of them and we've done that. We've found a way. That's the positive. The positive is that if you can play b, b- football and be sitting here at 3-1 that's pretty good and let's just imagine now that you know how and you know you can. That's just going to rack up more wins and build more confidence and create a little more swagger. We know we're banged up. We know we're not playing our best football right now, but we know how to handle that. We know it's about the process, handling the day to day, the preparation, not letting any of this becoming a distraction, people asking what's wrong with you guys? Nothing's wrong with us. We just have to keep plugging away. We're not where we need to be."

From a player's standpoint, how would you describe Mike Ornstein's involvement with this team?

"Mike going back to 2006, Mike was representing Reggie (Bush) from a marketing standpoint. He was around here quite a bit; obviously he's been around the league a long time. I've known Mike ever since I've first gotten in the league. I don't think he has an official title of any kind. There's times where he'll just help with things. I don't think anything real specific."

How will you guys compartmentalize the things that came out yesterday?

"I think what came out is something that I think has been going on for a while. It's not like it caught any of us by surprise in regards to it was out there, but just maybe the fact that it came out of nowhere yesterday. I don't think anybody knows all the details of what he's going through, or the charges, whatever. I think guys see Mike and he's a friend to a lot of guys and so it's not a distraction by any means, no."

You talk about big plays and say you'll gladly take seven or eight yards at a time, but how anxious are you to see something open up downfield where you can take advantage of it. It seems like some teams just aren't going to give you the big play?

"We will have our opportunities at big plays. The more that you're on the field, the more opportunities you have for big plays, so as you look early on in the season, we were bad on third downs. We're starting to get better. We've had two pretty good performances the last two weeks in that department. They more you stay on the field, the more plays you run, the more chance you have at having big plays. The more you wear down a defense, the better chance you have at big plays. The better that you run the football, the more opportunities you have at big plays because now you have to put an extra guy down there and you're getting the single coverage, looks and matchups that you want and those create big plays. We haven't rushed the ball that well up until last week. We outrushed one of the better running teams in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers. We're figuring things out. These are things we knew, but we have to go out and prove it to ourselves once again that if we can improve these things, these things will start to happen. It doesn't mean you go out and force stuff. When you start forcing things down the field if we listen to you guys too much, then you start forcing the ball down the field. Bad things can happen. You start turning the ball over. You start putting yourself in third and long situations because you tried to force something rather than taking a five-yard completion or ten-yard completion. Moving the chains, getting first downs, all those things are good if you take care of the football."

Is the media getting greedy asking for big plays?

"You're just like everybody. We love the deep ball. We love the exciting plays. We love walking out of the game having eight to ten big plays. That's great, but we have to be able to win and play efficiently when that stuff is not happening, because occasionally that stuff doesn't happen whether it's taken away or they have the right defense called at the right time and you're only getting three or four big plays called a game. You have to show that you can methodically march the ball down the field, convert in third down situations and all that stuff."

Do you think teams spent the offseason, spending time trying to figure you guys out and thought you an excellent job of picking up the blitzes and maybe they have to be more patient, play deep coverage and make you do something else?

"That's the great thing about the NFL. Defense 101. Every defensive coach is going to say that the first thing you need to do is stop the run and tackle well and prevent big plays and get turnovers. That's what every defensive coach is saying. Going into every game, especially when they look at us, they're going to say prevent the big play and take the ball away, obviously get turnovers and obviously we have to stop the run, so you just have to know what they're being coached. You have to realize what you're going up against, but every defense is different. Some are going to be very conservative. They're not going to pressure a lot. They're just going to sit back. Others can't help themselves. They're going to pressure and pressure. That's great, because while the pressure can get you big plays defensively it can also give up big plays if an offense is able to block it up and get down the field, because typically you're getting a lot of one on one matchups, but we haven't done as good a job attacking the soft zone or even the pressure, like we can, so regardless of what a defense decides to play against us, it still comes down to our execution. We just haven't been A+ execution up to this point."

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