Following the first practice of training camp, which occurred on the club's outdoor fields in front of the fans, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton addressed the media. Below is a transcript of the post-workout session.
Opening Statement:"The guys that didn't practice today were (Marques) Colston, (Darren) Sharper, (Clint) Ingram, (Robert) Meachem and Matt Tennant who had an excused absence. Basically it was our first chance to put the pads on and get these guys carrying their gear. I thought it went pretty well. It was good to get them out there in something besides shorts and t shirts and into the full pads. We have a lot of work to do, but it was a good start."
You must be pleased that you didn't have to deal with a training camp first round pick holdout?"Yes, I think Khai Harley, Mickey (Loomis) and those guys did a great job. I think in yesterday's conversation with Mickey he said to you guys that he couldn't recall the last time a first round pick was in here to start. Today that happened. Certainly it's a credit to Patrick's agents, our guys that did the contract and the player himself. It's good to have him here at the beginning and not have to play catch-up."
Is this the first time you've had virtually everyone in at the start and with a minimal number of injuries?"Yes, I can't recall exactly, but I can't recall the first round pick being here for the first a.m. practice. I think it would be a lot more common for a guy to miss the first couple of practices. I think it's the first time we've had that player sign, whether you're dating back to Reggie Bush, Sedrick Ellis, (Robert) Meachem, Malcolm Jenkins. He's (Robinson) a little bit further down in the round and a little bit easier to get done."
What precipitated the decision to move the practices indoors this afternoon in terms of heat?"When the gum starts melting in your pockets. Scottie (Patton) has an official meter. We pay attention to the weather forecast and the heat index, because a lot of it is what it feels like. I can always tell that when the gum melts it's going to be hot. We've dealt with it. I think more than anything else, we're trying to get the best work we can. In other words, we're not just trying to get in the heat to get through a practice. We're trying to get our best work in. We have a lot of good outdoor open practices ahead of us. Certainly from a fan's perspective it's difficult to do that because there are so many people planning on coming to see practice. Tomorrow's a.m. will be open. If it wasn't this hot, we'd be outside for both."
Did anybody have any trouble today with the heat?"No, we took four or five breaks. We try to do that and period it out. We use common sense as we get through practice and make sure to get these guys plenty of fluids."
Is this a different approach in that in some of your earlier years you didn't mind throwing them out in the heat consistently?"It's a different team, but still there are not any shortcuts to what we're doing now and it's going to be tough. This is going to be a tough camp, but certainly each one is different and I think as you go back to that one in '06, maybe there's other goals in mind your first year."
Is this one of the reasons you train here now?"To just have that balance of being able to go indoors and have the chance to get them out of the sun. The grass is where we prefer to be outside, but the changeup is that you can go in and get them out of the sun."
What did you and the team talk about last night in your first team meeting?"We talked about the makeup of this team and certainly the challenges we face. We talked about a lot of what it takes to win. If you really ask me, we talked about the specifics of the hard work, details, things that sometimes you might take for granted. Overall, I thought the meeting went well and I thought we had good focus."
Have the additional bleachers and the addition of fans ratcheted up the intensity?"We have such a great following. When you're able to hold your camp at your host city, it's great. It's certainly more accessible and more for the local fans. It's great to see them out there. We appreciate it. As hot as it is for us, it's hot for them to sit in those bleachers for two hours. You pull in this morning and you see a line of people that are here before you are. It's pretty impressive."
Does this sort of turn the page from last year?"Yes, I think it's a series of things. I've been asked that question a lot over the year. I think it happens over a period of time, but certainly we're focused on this upcoming season. Periodically there will be something that takes you back, but right now we're focused on this roster and what our goals are for this upcoming season. The White House visit is one that we go on in a week. Anytime you do that in the offseason, anytime you do it, you do it with the next year's roster. It's never the team that just won the Super Bowl. I think the focus is on where we're going, not where we've been."
Are there players that you might be signing to extensions right now if there was more certainty?"That's a pretty broad statement. I don't know if I could say that. I don't think that it's dramatically affected us. We have to pay attention to what might happen next year and going forward in terms of the system we're going to be under, but it didn't prevent us from signing Jahri Evans and we haven't gotten some other guys like Roman Harper and Pierre Thomas signed that we maybe would have liked to get signed. It cuts both ways."
Could Drew Brees actually improve on his 2009?"Certainly he feels he can an all of us do. That's one of the reasons he goes through the workout routine he does and training camp and the offseason. I think if you asked that question two years ago or three years ago, and you felt like there wasn't any room for improvement then you wouldn't have seen what you saw in '09. He's improved each year we've been here. His expectation for himself is higher than anyone else. That's a good thing."
What are some of the areas he can improve?"There are some things he can work on pertaining to helping in the run game, the various packages that we have in. There are some things from a mechanics standpoint that he'll look closely at. He feels like there were some throws a year ago, he'd like to have back. You talk about the little things and the little specifics and he's someone that will look closely and he's had a whole offseason to do that with cut-ups, really no different than a golfer would on a certain portion of his game. I don't think at the positions do you ever finally say "we're here" and let's just maintain. I think that's the case with his position and that's the case with all of us in this game."
What did you think about the performance of Jimmy Graham?"He's a bright young guy with good range. He can run. He had a good first semester with us when you look at his rookie camp and minicamp. We're excited about his skills and we just have to keep developing him."
What have you seen from Al Woods so far?"He's a big guy. He's a guy that is in good shape for his size. We thought without the pads, which is hard to evaluate, especially at defensive tackle, he transitioned well into our defense. There's a few guys that the pads will help define. He'll be one of them."
Is this looking to be a better year for Lance Moore because he isn't as banged up as last year?"He's someone that's reliable, knows what to do all the time, always seems to be in the right spot. Certainly someone like him is an asset to our offense."