New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Saturday, August 1, 2009 – Afternoon Practice
"Just a couple of practice notes: Will Smith/Kendrick Clancy.aspx">Kendrick Clancy we held out this afternoon with some back spasms and I held Reggie Bush out just to keep his knee from getting aggravated; he's doing fine. With tomorrow's 'B' schedule, which is really one practice in the afternoon, we expect everyone to be full go except for Adrian Arrington."
Did Bush's knee have some swelling or anything?
"No, it's really one of the things that we wanted to do with the two-a-day schedule with him, just to keep that from coming up."
Any news on the Malcolm Jenkins negotiations?
"Nothing that I'm aware of."
Do you think that the fact that #13 and #15 have signed will expedite the process?
"Hopefully. That's what you look for, the clump around them. But certainly nothing new that I'm aware of."
Gregg Williams said yesterday that the culture that you've established here was part of what brought him here and that you come from coaching background that places importance on that. Does that come from Bill Parcells?
"There have been a number of people that I've been fortunate enough to work for that helped mold what I would eventually become as a head coach and certainly Bill would be one of those figures. That was one thing that he stressed – the importance of having the right locker room and having the right mentality in the locker room. That's something that we pay close attention to. It's something that's not easy and it's something that you have to continue to work on or it can go the other way quickly. Collectively as a staff, as an organization, we take that into account very seriously in the selection of players or the signing of players as to how they're going to fit in this team. I think that is important to winning football."
So you think that really makes a difference?
"No question. I've said before and credit to New England, if you just pay attention to who's winning, typically those teams have very good cultures; the ones that are winning on a consistent basis."
Pierre Thomas/Heath Evans.aspx">Heath Evans said that he saw it as much when they lost as when they won. Is that the case?
"No question. It's easy when you win. It's the culture when you hit the bumpy roads that come with the 16-game regular season."
Anthony Hargrove said that the team is kind of like a "big brother" to him. When you have a culture like that, can afford to take a chance on a player like Hargrove?
"I think you can. Once it's established, I think you can. But it has to be the right player because we've seen cases where maybe there has been a team with a real good culture and yet the individual wasn't able to fit in. When that happens, then there's probably not a lot of places that individual is going to fit in. I think you can."
Have you seen such feistiness before in the second day of practice as you did today?
"The only concern that I have is that we have to be able to learn to practice without the full pads on. I don't want to lose a player. That hurts us to start the season. But I think they've been competitive; I think they're practicing hard and I think their intent is good. Those are some of the things that you want to see."
What does it say about a guy like Jeff Charleston that he's willing to stay after practice to work and run with Charles Grant?
"Every once in a while you come across a player that finds a way to catch your attention, and he's one of those guys. He's one of those throwback players that knows that his effort and his intensity and all those intangibles have to be at a high level for him to have a chance and he understands that. He's a player that knows who he is, and that's a good thing in our league."
What are your views when dust-ups like those happen?
"It's a little bit more challenging when two of them break out at the same time. But there's that five to ten-second period where hopefully then it's controlled by the team and I think even in that case today, you saw ultimately the team take care of it."
Do you like to see a good scrap like that?
"Like I said, I like the competitive nature of the way we're practicing. We just want them to be careful and not do something stupid."
What kind of things do you expect from Pierre Thomas this season?
"He's knows the offense very well. We expect him to be a big contributor as a running back for us – it's that simple. We expect him to be a guy to get a lot of carries. The key is staying healthy for him, but he runs with good pad level. He's a guy that doesn't take a lot of minus-yardage plays, which is a big plus for him and he's very reliable in protection."
So he needs to take another step forward since he's in year three now?
"The key for him is just the consistency in regards to his injuries, just being able to stay healthy and stay on the field."
Do you like his weight to be where it is right now?
"Yes. I think he's at a good spot right now. When you look at him, I think he's carrying it well. I'm always mindful or cautious of guys that play skill positions that put on weight. I think you have to be careful there, but I think he's playing at a comfortable weight right now."
What have you seen from Tracy Porter so far in these first few days?
"It is early, but he's a guy that is smart. He has real good ball skills and he's taking reps at punt returner as well and he can run well. He's right there in the mix. He did some good things a year ago."
When you look at receivers and cornerbacks, what is it about their feet that is important?
"So much of the game is start-and-stop. If your ability to start and then stop and then start again is better than your opponent's, then it gives you an edge. Conversely, if you struggle in transition – if when you stop it takes you a while to get back started again, then it becomes a challenge for you and you're behind a little bit. That quickness and agility is a key component to this game because there's so much of it that takes place on every play."
Pierre Thomas said that he'd like to recreate something like what Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister had in 2006. What are your thoughts on that?
"I think he's anxious and I think he is certainly ready to take on that role. Now we go through the process of preparing him for that. I said earlier that in the group as a whole, there are some interesting players that we have to do a good job of evaluating. When you talk about the Mike Bell, Lynell Hamilton, the Garrett Hartley/P,-d-,J,-d-, Hill.aspx">P.J. Hills and Herb Donaldson, I'm anxious to see all of those guys. It's hard to get them all work. You'll see in practice that we'll start clumping two or three of them in a nine-on-seven and not try to give each one of them two reps but try to give one of them a little bit more work. That gives us a better chance to look at those players."