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Payton Recaps Day One of Camp

Payton talks about transactions, his relationship with GM Mickey Loomis and opening training camp

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Press Conference
Friday, July 29, 2011

Opening Statement:

"We have agreed to terms with LB Danny Clark. That won't be official or finalized until five o'clock tonight.  We agreed to terms with running back Darren Sproles yesterday.  Again, that's not finalized until five o'clock. Linebacker Stanley Arnoux failed his physical and was waived.  Long snapper Jason Kyle failed his physical and (his contract) was terminated. Then (here are) the following players that were out here and didn't participate that all failed physicals yesterday: Tackle Charles Brown with a Hamstring, Chris Ivory running back with his foot, punter Thomas Morstead with his toe, cornerback Tracy Porter with his knee, defensive end Greg Romeus with his knee, and offensive guard Carl Johnson with his hamstring.  Jonathon Amaya was able to practice today, the safety we acquired from Miami."

What is your vision for Darren Sproles as a Saint?

"I think he is a player that we have seen a lot of tape on.  He is a guy that not only gives you help in the return game, but he is an elusive runner and he has exceptional acceleration.  There are a number of things you can do with him, the one back, the two back, and I don't know if you say his role would be exactly the same as what we did with Reggie (Bush), but there are some similarities.  We will see and expand as we go.  He should be getting here within the next few days."

How much did the possibility of getting Darren Sproles play in affecting your strategy to trade Reggie Bush?

"No, it didn't.  Let's make sure we are clear on the timeline with Reggie yesterday.  Obviously there was big money that was due, but I think more with Reggie was the desire to have the opportunity somewhere else, maybe more, a bigger role in the offense.  We were initially heading into this to renegotiate (with) him and come up with a number.  In the meantime, you are paying attention to the rest of these players that are available.  Darren was someone we had spoken to the last couple of days and expressed interest in and fortunately we were able to get that done early yesterday evening."     

Does that shore up your return spot that was in question with Courtney Roby as am unrestricted free agent?

"Yeah, we will see.  I don't know if it does anything.  I certainly value him as a returner though."

With Greg Romeus, were you a little surprised he wasn't further along with his rehab or is this what you expected?

"This is exactly what we expected based on his ACL injury.  When we drafted Greg we knew that there was going to be a period of time, potentially a long period of time (being sidelined) when he arrived here and it probably had a lot to do with why he slipped a little in the draft."

I guess you haven't had the chance to see Shaun Rogers at lot because of the work stoppage, but what do you see in him?

"I think for having a whole offseason without being at the complex, I thought he handled the run yesterday, number one.  I thought he handled the heat pretty good today.  He is an experienced veteran and over the years he was always on one of the teams we were playing.  It's good to have his body in here and he looks well, and I think the first two days he handled the run and the heat pretty well."

What is the status of Randall Gay?

"No status.  He is also a player that we released."

Darren Sproles as a receiver, that aspect of his game, is that something you like about him?

"Yes.  He's a versatile player.  He's explosive and a guy that is dynamic.  He's really good in short areas.  He has good hands.  He's smart.  He's instinctive.  He is a guy that you put on the tape and just jumps out at you.  He has played with a lot of experience.  He has been in a really good offense in San Diego.  We look forward to getting him in here and implementing his skill set quickly."

The practice seemed kind of up-tempo for what you said yesterday.  Was this the conditioning you wanted to get a feel for?

"No.  I think the key with these practices, this afternoon will be more of a teaching session, but these one-a-days is just learning how to practice with each other without any contact.  We showed a film on it last night, what we expect.  I thought they did a good job of it.  We didn't have guys on the ground.  We do feel the need to condition and make up for lost time and we cut back some of the reps. We were probably 40 minutes shorter than the schedul allowed but 20 minutes shorter than we planned on.  We just cut back some of the snaps.  Until certain position groups come in bigger numbers next week, we have eight offensive linemen taking snaps the whole practice.  We are thin at Safety.  You have to be careful."

What do you see as the consolation when you had to turn over practices to Drew Brees?

"I think not only Drew, (Jon) Vilma, there are a number of guys on this team that understand the challenges of playing well and understand the challenges of competing and becoming a team that will be a threat at the end of the season.  I think it speaks a lot for the locker room and for those guys that took it upon themselves.  I know they planned it for quite a while and there was a lot that went into it.  As a coach it's good to see because there are certain aspects…look I think from the play standpoint, offense, defense standpoint, or kicking game, that's not as big of concern as the running and the lifting and I think that they were able to do a good job that way."

Did you see the benefits of the lockout workouts today?

"I saw a little of it yesterday in the conditioning tests, but you didn't really have a feel for how that was going to go and I thought that went very well.  I thought they handled today's practice well.  We have a lot of work to do.  It's a unique practice in that we've got a lot of veteran players here and we have 18, 19 players for the first time that are just out there today.  So you have groups that are combined because your whole team is not in tact and it won't be until next week.  Logistically, it's a little bit of a challenge."    

Your first regular season matchup against the Green Bay Packers is not only between the past two Super Bowl winners, but between two teams who took different approaches to the lockout.  Your guys worked out regularly.  Their guys didn't do it at all.  What kind of advantage do you think you will have?

"Certainly, having gone through what they did a year before, I understand completely after Green Bay plays and wins the Super Bowl, the need to kind of get guys away because when you look at 16 regular season games, four pre-season games, you throw in a couple of byes, they played four playoff games, that's more than half the year of football.  I think you have to pay attention to your own team.  We had a goal in mind and our players had a goal in mind in what they wanted to accomplish while things were quiet, but I think each team is different and you have to be careful.  We balanced our schedule after the Super Bowl season and you have to pay attention to that."

Were you targeting Sproles as a potential upgrade for the return game?

"I don't think so.  I think that he is a returner, but it started with his ability on offense.  We are going to look to improve our return game and whether or not that is our returner or the guy playing hold-up or the guy playing over the guard, or blocking the linebacker, all those aspects that we feel like we have to improve.  But I think it started with his offensive abilities and it doesn't hurt that he is a returner."

Is there anyone in your undrafted rookie class that was brought in as a returner?

"Yeah we kind of go through this exercise after practice and that's kind of a work in progress.  We will see."

What are some of your memories your first year here?

"The first year was different.  The first year, there was a lot of work to do and Millsaps provided a pretty good environment at that training camp.  It was a hard and long training camp because we didn't play our preseason games here at the Superdome.  We played one right there in Jackson and one in Shreveport.  My memory…it was about six weeks, it was a tough camp.  There was a lot more moves on the roster trying to get the right team in place, different than maybe where we are at now."

Do you look at last year with what happened with your running backs at the end of the season…does it change the way you are going to restock that position?

"That's the position you want to have a lot of depth at.  It's a hard position.  It's one that has a lot of contact and wear and tear with our game today.  We will try to pay attention to our depth there and make sure we are keeping these guys healthy.  It's just one aspect of what we think we can do better to move forward."

What is your assessment of Pierre Thomas today?

"I thought he ran well.  He had a few runs where he was finally able to open it up. I thought he handled the test well yesterday.  It was positive.

What are your thoughts on Mickey Loomis?

"He is very intelligent, very patient, and very consistent and steady.  Our relationship has been fantastic.  When you start evaluating the type of job you have when you can work with people like Mickey and you have that trust factor and communication, none of those things I take for granted.  Those are all special qualities that Mickey has."

Is it a different feeling that you had out here today being apart from these guys for a while?

"It felt good.  It felt good to get out and have a chance to start coaching and working with them.  I think the players felt the same way.  It's going to take a while, but I though they handled the heat early on especially I thought it got a little cooler as practice went on.  My concern mostly was the 18, 19 new players that haven't practiced with us and making sure they understood how we practice, staying up, avoiding the contact and staying healthy and I thought we handled it well."

How do you feel about Shaun Rogers so far?

"He's strong, he's physical at the point of attack, he's a load when you watch him just get into stance.  He has a big body. He's smart, that's one thing I noticed.  When you listen to him talk and you listen to him talk about football.  I also think he is hungry to be on a winning team and have a chance to do something.  It's something you take for granted after playing in the postseason and playing in the Super Bowl, but that comes with our game that so many players that never get that chance.  I think that's one thing that burns with him a little bit."

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