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Payton Pleased with First Practice with Signed Free Agents

Team will continue practicing in the afternoon through the weekend.


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 04, 2011

Opening Statement
"We signed cornerback Trumaine McBride, who was an unrestricted free agent from Arizona. We waived the following players: tackle Mike Smith, tackle Coy Beilby, tight end Harry Flaherty, running back C.J. Gable, running back Lynell Hamilton, and quarterback Ryan Colburn. Those took place today. The following players remain on the failed physical list: tackle Charles Brown, running back Chris Ivory, cornerback Tracy Porter, and defensive end Greg Romeus. The following players did not practice today because of injury: wide receiver Michael Galatas (right knee) and linebacker Ezra Butler (left hamstring). The only player limited in practice today was cornerback Mike Parson. Obviously, it was the first full practice with our full roster. From a scheduling standpoint, we moved it back to ensure that the ratification process took place so that we could have a full practice with everyone here. I thought they handled it well with pads and I thought the tempo was good overall. I was pleased with the first full practice with all 90 players with the logistics of everything."

What was your thought process with Lynell Hamilton?
"That was probably one of the most difficult decisions of waiving a player that I've gone through. He's done so much to stay here and get healthy. His work ethic is amazing. He's one of the players we point to as the type of player we're looking for. It was becoming more difficult for him with the depth we have at running back and all of the younger players that are out there. It was a hard decision but it was the one we made. I think the world of him and I think he'll have a good shot at signing on with another team, and if not we'll see where things take us."

What are your thoughts on where you stand now at the center position with Jonathan Goodwin going to play in San Francisco?
"He's a guy that was really important to what we did offensively. He came here initially from the Jets and he's been here for a long time with our offense. He's a very intelligent. We think he's a really good football player and certainly we wish him the best. With that being said, now we have some young players that will step in and we need to get them some reps and pay attention to this process and where it takes us. I think you're still going to see a period of time where, although it's slower, you're still going to see these free agents beginning to sign with clubs in the (next) week and a half. It's a little unprecedented or unique that you're in training camp and you're still going through the recruitment or the signing of players, but it's tough to lose a player like him."

How long does it take a new center and quarterback to get on the same page?
"I think it varies. I think it may take a young center a little bit longer. It may take a veteran player less time, depending on his experience. There's still a period of not so much the center-to-quarterback exchange, the understanding of how we call defenses and how we handle protections. In the running game, I think it comes a little bit quicker. In the passing game, there's a lot of communication that takes place between Drew (Brees) and the echo that's called out to the guards and tackles. I would say the pass protection is the quick learning curve."

How important is it to have a guy like Korey Hall on the team who just came off of a Super Bowl win with Green Bay and has that kind of experience?
"I think it's certainly a plus. He's a hard worker and was converted from being a linebacker in college to a fullback with Green Bay, and he did a good job with it. His film was really good and he was a guy that we targeted once free agency began. He was probably the first unrestricted free agent we signed outside of our own roster in that first day. His experience will be helpful. He understands offensive football now having been on that side of the ball and he certainly understands winning culture."

Is Korey Hall's skill set similar to Heath Evans'?
"I think there's probably some differences. They both do certain things well. You hope you can find someone who can function well as a blocker and as a receiver. I think he's also someone who has done a good job in the kicking game and had given them snaps on special teams. That versatility is important especially in that position."

Was it bizarre not knowing half the day whether you were going to have all your guys at practice?
"I think that we all felt like we were going to have them and it was really just a matter of when. We purposely pushed practice back to allow that process to take place but we felt confident that it was going to happen. I think by the time our players were voting it was already ratified. I thought everything worked out pretty well though."

Can you talk about this being the first day with the full team putting on the pads?
"Certainly I think there was a group that was ready to put on the pads and I felt like the other players could handle it. We watched the total number of reps and I thought we had a lot of good contact. I thought they handled it well and we didn't see a lot of players on the ground, so I was encouraged with that. Part of it was coming inside and getting out of the heat. I thought that helped a little bit as well. We'll be on an adjusted schedule here tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday with the mornings being the meeting session, the teaching session, and the install sessions and the afternoon being the practice session. We'll see how that works all the way up until Monday's day off. I wanted to stay with that instead of turning around and practicing tomorrow morning."

Can you talk about how you handled talking to veterans about bringing in younger guys on the roster?
"I think it's understood. The position coach usually will explain the reps to make sure everyone understands that rarely do we take a rookie and just put him at the front of the line. What is key to our organization is that we're never going to hand anyone a job. There's going to be a lot of reps, a lot of preseason games, and a lot of snaps for guys to move up in the depth chart or down in the depth chart. I think that process has to happen on merit to have that credibility in the locker room. That's something we value a lot here and we pay attention to it. Regardless if it's Mark Ingram, Cameron Jordan, Martez Wilson, or quite honestly an unrestricted free agent from another team, there's still that act of having to come in and earn a spot in the starting rotation. We have a lot of time and yet those are critical decisions in moving forward, but there is a period where the coaches explain the situation and under unique circumstances I will have to explain it. We have two veteran tackles that came in here with Shaun Rogers coming before the lockout and Aubrayo Franklin coming after the lockout, and I would make sure that they both understand our vision to make it work."

Can you talk about the number of full practices you will have before the first preseason game?
"We play Friday and we're going to have Monday off. We'll have six full practices before the first game. Thursday is going to be a full practice with the amount of reps everyone is going to get on Friday. Thursday will be pads though and it will be a good practice."

What are the concerns of just six practices until the first game?
"The first concern would be that I don't want to be in a rush to have everything in. If the goal line offense isn't in and we're playing the game, then I'm comfortable with that. I think the mistake would be if we tried to get everything in quickly instead of trying to make it right. I think we'll be really judicious with the installing and we'll be able to handle the game."

What is your vision for Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers?
"With any good front, you never see the tackles playing 60 snaps. With Rogers, I see a guy who can play nose tackle and the three. Sedrick Ellis is a guy that can play the three and nose tackle. Aubrayo is a guy that plays nose tackle. I see those guys handling a ton of work inside. Those are plenty of snaps. Many would argue that you need a fourth, and we have some guys out here that we are looking at right now. I think they all understand that and their flexibility with it is paramount."

Do you think fresh legs on the defensive line is something you were lacking in the past?
"No, I think we had a rotation in the past where we knew we would have to roll guys through and it's been between a few different players so you have to keep them fresh but in this case they are different body types. I think it's obvious we got bigger and it will help us."

Was your decision with Lynell Hamilton more directed toward a deep running back group or his production?
"The hard part about the decision was the hard work he put in. Prior to the lockout, we would see him every day training, rehabbing, or getting treatment. The injury he suffered a year ago was very unusual at New England. He was very important in our 2009 season with his role in special teams, but it was rare that we had all of those running backs healthy. At some point in the year, each running back was hurt at some point. There's some guys you grow an attachment to and he was one of them."

What was your first impression of Darren Sproles?
"You can see his quickness and agility. He's someone that is explosive through the line of scrimmage. He's very intelligent. Throughout this four-day process, he's been paying attention during the meetings to all the schemes. He has a burst and was impressive today. He's a veteran player that understands how to practice and certainly he's picked up things quickly."

Is it difficult having 90 players out here?
"I think the challenge with 90 players is the practice schedule doesn't necessarily reflect 90 players. In other words, the roster number went up and the snaps went down. I don't know that we'll stay at 90 players for long, but we are going to take a ten-play period with the younger players at practice to get more work with the younger guys who may not get reps early on. We can make sure all of those young guys get their reps. I think a big concern for all of us is to make sure that a good player doesn't get out of this building, a player like Pierre Thomas who three years ago was a free agent and didn't get noticed early on and then all of a sudden gets out of the building. We have enough time in the first practice with it being three hours that I'd like to take more time to spend with the younger players."

Was there a reason for both you and Gregg Williams to be out at special teams?
"I want the coaches to make sure they are watching their position groups during special teams because it's another opportunity to evaluate athleticism. These practices from start to finish are very valuable and you have to include the kicking game in addition to offense and defense. We make an effort to pay attention to the players, especially the younger players, with how they're handling the drills and the assignments in the kicking game."

Is there a chance Lynell Hamilton could be picked up in the middle of the season?
"I would like to think so, but I would like to see him get picked up by someone else. I would hope to see him have an opportunity and he will get some interest from other teams in special teams and the running game."

What were your first thought on Will Herring?
"I thought he handled things well today. He's another guy that's coming in from a different team. He's a quick-study, he moved around well, he carried his pads well, and I was impressed. We'll have a chance to go look at the film more but he's a veteran guy that understands the game and understands tempo. He understands the principles of the defense and I thought he handled it pretty well."

Do you have any message for the fans who want to come out to practice in the next couple of days?
"We're going to go Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and we know it's going to be hot. My initial comment during the week was let's go out in the morning and beat the heat. After we got out there in the morning I didn't know that we were beating any heat. We're excited to see them out there in the afternoon. This is a time where if you want to see the full team practice, this will be a good chance to see some really good practice time. We're going to be out there for two and a half hours and they should bring their rosters because they will need them."

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