**New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton**
**Thursday, August 6, 2009**
"Mike Bell had a little bruised hip but we think he's going to be fine. He had a pretty good practice. Overall, I thought it was a pretty physical practice. I was pleased – both sides of the ball did a good job responding. I thought we handled the heat pretty well. We got our two-minute offense and defense in today; it was the first time that we got to install it in this camp. It's a pretty important installation since so many of the games we play in are close in the fourth quarter and also in the second quarter. We'll work on it again tomorrow as well."
It looked like Devery Henderson got up limping a little bit in the two-minute drill. Is he alright?
"I think he was more tired. Those guys get gassed in a drill like that, especially coming off of a team period. I think he's fine."
Is Mark Simoneau fighting for a job on the 53-man roster or do you have him slated in there?
"We don't have a lot of guys slated in. Mark is a guy that we understand exactly what we have in him and I like that. He has experience playing the Mike and the Will. He's a guy that can play in the kicking game. Certainly he's competing – like all these guys are – for a job and right now he's our number two Mike. He's our fourth linebacker in the game if we were playing this weekend. He has recovered well from the injury, he's close to being healthy – he's not 100% healthy, but he's close – and that's encouraging."
Are you throwing him in there when you go to that 3-4 look?
"He's in that package. We have a handful of packages that we're trying to move guys around in."
What's it like to have Jon Gruden here to watch practice?
"It's good. He's here for a couple of days. My first job in this league in 1997 was with him in Philadelphia as he was the offensive coordinator. For me it was like going to law school. It was my first exposure to the NFL and an NFL offense. He's one of the few coaches that wherever he's at, we study his tape very closely; we have that much respect for him. We met today for awhile offensively, he'll speak to the team tonight, and he has been a huge influence on my career."
How long do you think he'll be out of the coaching game?
"I think he's going to have a lot of opportunities. I do think he's going to do a great job for Monday Night Football. He's one of those guys – and I'm not comparing him to John Madden – but after awhile we viewed John Madden as a sports announcer and we forgot how good of a coach he was. One of the reasons was that he was very charismatic as an announcer and a guy that was really easy on the ear and I think that Jon has those same traits. He certainly has a coach's perspective, but more importantly he has a personality that I think will appeal to everybody – not just the avid football fan. He's going to have a lot of choices in his life and he's very talented. So if he does come back, hopefully it's in a different division. We really respect him. He has been a big help to me and he has been a big help these last couple of days just looking at some things offensively and looking at our team."
And now he has inside scoop on you guys?
"He has inside scoop but there's a tradeoff. Drew Brees had a chance to sit in our meeting today. We met for about three hours at lunchtime, just going over football and talking football. He's someone that would be up at 3:15 in the morning, in the office by 4:00, and before most guys are drinking their first cup of coffee he has three hours of work in. It's real important to him. I've learned a lot over the years from him, especially those early years. Even after that, he has given me a lot of sound advice. He's one of the few guys that I call on any decision and I respect his opinion a lot. I'm glad he's here."
Did it seem like the pass offense really got going today?
"It was kind of back and forth. I thought Drew did some good things. We caught the ball and we blocked up front pretty well in the pass drills. I thought the defense played real well in the run drill. In the full contact period that we had, I thought we did a real good job defensively. It was a physical practice and fortunately guys stayed up. It's good to have the officials here now. They'll be here for tomorrow and Saturday and they'll help us along the way. They'll have a chance to meet with you guys as well."
As a former quarterback, can you appreciate when Drew gets into one of those rhythms like he was today?
"For him, that's kind of the bar. He works at it extremely hard. I thought we did a good job today of giving him a good pocket, but he was in rhythm and he made some big throws. We rely on those. We keep trying to find different formations and plays to get guys open. He has a great way of handling it all and digesting it and bringing it all to the field. He's real special that way. It was good to see."
Is it easy to get spoiled when you have a quarterback like that?
"If you coach long enough, you're going to be on both sides of the spectrum and it makes you appreciate what you do have. It was good to see. We'll keep battling; tomorrow we have two practices. The morning will be outside and then in the afternoon we'll go inside."
Are you happy with the way you've managed this camp, with going inside and everything?
"I think it has helped us some. It's still tough. We're still treating it like a camp. That hotel is set up much like it would be at a true training camp. I think we've done a good job with the balance of inside and outside. Today was a hot practice and you need to get conditioned to this heat because we're going to play in it. And you need to have a little bit of balance and that's what the indoor facility gives us."
Is there urgency on your behalf to get Malcolm Jenkins in here?
"Anytime you get into training camp and you're at the end of your first week, that sense of urgency applies. That being said, it's like I tell our team – there are some things that we can and can't control. As the head coach, I have to focus on what I can control. I know that both parties are doing a great job of trying to get this thing done and both parties are extremely talented at doing this; they've done it for a long time, Mickey (Loomis) and Khai (Harley) and Ben Dogra and Tom Condon from CAA. The good news is that we have experienced guys in the positions of importance as it comes to negotiations. I think both sides will do a good job."
What were those days like in Philadelphia?
"Tough. I learned a lot. There wasn't a lot of sleep, but it was good."
Were you married then?
"We were married. I had just taken a job at Maryland – I was there for two months and then got hired by the Eagles in March. My daughter was born two weeks after we moved to Philadelphia. That was our first child. Jon was married with two children and we were just young coaches. I think he was 32 or 33, I was 32 and for me it was coming in and learning a system from square one. It's something that I still use to this day, in regards to the base terminology and how we operate."
Who else was on that staff?
"Bill Callahan, Joe Vitt, Mike Trgovac, Emmitt Thomas. There were a lot of good coaches. Juan Castillo is still the offensive line coach on that staff. Like I said, it was my first exposure to this league and it was a big learning curve."
Did you share an office, you had the couch and he had the desk?
"I didn't have a couch. I had a corner of the couch and little cell phone. I left Maryland where I had an office overlooking the stadium, mahogany desk, everything. We were in the basement of Veterans Stadium and I had the corner of his sofa, but it was worth it."
How is Malcolm Jenkins/Chip Vaughn.aspx">Chip Vaughn progressing?
"He's doing well. There's a lot to learn as a rookie at safety. He's doing some things. He's flashing for us. I'm anxious to see when the bullets are live, in the scrimmage and in these preseason games we're going to be able to get a feel. He's doing well."
Why did you think Mark Brunell would be a good backup for Drew Brees?
"The first thing you want to hear is the interest level of the player in still wanting to play. When you deal with someone with his experience, you want to make sure their heart, mind and body are still in it. There's a lot of stress that goes on even when you're not taking the snaps in the games. But you have to make the preparation each week as if you're going to take the snaps. Second, you want to make sure he's still in shape and has the juice he once had. He brings a calm demeanor and confidence to the huddle and that's something I think is important."
Does it help that Mark knows his role?
"The trick and this is no secret that in the weekly preparation and grind as you prepare to get ready each week, knowing that you might not play, but that you might play in week eight or 14. It's not like a relief pitcher. There's a big difference, because there's a good chance his name's going to get called in two or three games. So at that position, it's the mental focus and the work ethic to be prepared."
You also want a team guy in that position?
"There's no question about that. He's a great sounding board for Drew (Brees)."
Have you seen him be a real asset to this team?
"That role you don't know until the guy gets on campus, but I think the players have a lot of respect for him and would say he's an outstanding teammate. I know that Drew has a lot of confidence in him and trusts him a lot in his conversations."
You guys made some tough decision with some veterans that were injured to move on this offseason. Why did you decide to keep Mark Simoneau?
"I don't think his injury was as significant and I think from an age standpoint, I think he's got some more years left. He's a guy that takes great care of his body and a lot has to do with the recovery time when he was able to come back. Doctors felt good about his prognosis and we did as well. Those are all things we felt were a plus. He has a lot of versatility, which is a good thing to have at linebacker."
How do you think Lynell Hamilton/Rod Coleman.aspx">Rod Coleman is doing?
"I think he's doing well. He's getting in shape. He's a guy that played at a high level in Atlanta. Bill Johnson had some experience in coaching him at Atlanta and we felt like he was worth the opportunity to look at and see if he can get his body back and get in the shape we think we can. We think he still has some miles left. So far, he's been able to battle through it. I think he's handling things well. We'll get a chance to see in the preseason how he's doing."
Have you nailed down a scrimmage schedule?
"It will be much like the last three years. The ones will go against the two defense. The two offense will go against the one defense and threes against threes. The next time it will be the one offense against the one defense, two versus two and three versus three. We'll put the special teams in between."
How many scripted plays are there?
"I think we have scripts of eight and ten and keep the drive alive. If all of a sudden you have a drive going, we'll let it finish out."
How has Garrett Hartley done the last few days?
"The big thing is dealing with the timing, the snap-hold-kick. His leg looks strong. I'm excited about him as a kicker. I think we found someone last year. I think he did a good job in some tough circumstances and handled the game snaps well. Once we get going here, it's an important evaluation making sure he stays on top of things."
Is it tough for him to adjust to a new snapper?
"There's a rhythm in there. We'll be able to work through it."