New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton's Press Conference
"Let me hit the schedule first just for everyone. As we're hitting the middle of this week, tomorrow and Thursday will be inside. Tomorrow will be our typical offense versus defense, training camp format. Thursday it will shift to the Houston Texans. We'll have meetings Friday morning, a light walk-through and then we'll head to the luncheon and then out of town for the Houston game, which is Saturday. After that game, we'll fly from Houston into Oxnard. The players will be off then that Sunday and Monday we'll start out there with the p.m. schedule and follow it all week long. So Monday, 4:30 p.m. and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday will all be 4 p.m. So we'll be on the same schedule that we're on here, with the meetings, the installs in the morning and the practice in the afternoon. Saturday we'll have a brief walk-through. We'll fly to Oakland Saturday afternoon and play Sunday night. That should take us really through the week. We signed Patrick Cobbs, he's wearing jersey 44. Two players on the failed physical list right now: Chris Ivory – left foot; Greg Romeus – right knee. The following players did not practice: Ezra Butler – hamstring; Ramon Humber – quad; Clint Ingram – hamstring; Joique Bell – knee; Tom Johnson – calf; Johnny Patrick – right knee; Jeff Charleston – left ankle; Alex Barron – left knee; Leigh Torrence – left hip; and then Malcolm Jenkins we sat this afternoon with the right knee. All of the players will make this trip and then on to Oxnard with the likelihood a few of these guys will be available to practice next week. So they'll all make the trip and we'll be ready out there for treatments?"
Malcolm Jenkins tweaked something?
"Yes, I would see him being able to play this weekend and practice by Thursday.
And you mentioned yesterday you went through a couple position battles, and you mentioned corner. Are you talking depth or are you talking starting lineup as far as position battles are concerned?
"Well I just think the depth. I think we have some guys we have to evaluate. So, Patrick is playing well and looking for more playing time and then behind those guys, that's going to be important.
The player procurement phase, I know you're really never done with it, is this about the team you're probably going to take?
"Yeah I would say that's fairly accurate. There might be a position, if it came available, toward the end of camp, with the cuts that we might look at. But I would say, for the most part, that would be accurate."
Do you anticipate on taking this full 90 out to the west coast?
"Yeah, that's the plan. The only player that may not go just based on his condition is Ezra [Butler]; if he can travel with the post-op. But, our plan is to be at our full number right now."
Sean, I know you talked a lot about Zach Strief yesterday, if you could just discuss his transition from his rookie year to last year and now going into a new role for him this year?
"He's played and started games at left tackle, he's played at right tackle, he's a smart player, so he's one of those guys that pretty much knows everyone's assignment. He's strong at the point of attack, and he's durable. So, you're going to see him splitting reps with Charles Brown over on the right side, like I mentioned yesterday. We're going to spend three good weeks evaluating that competition."
He's also the backup left tackle behind Jermon?
"Yeah, well, I would say, if you we were putting the depth chart together, it might look where initially Zach is at right tackle and Charles would be at backup left, but the days where Charles gets snaps with the first unit, we can move Zach to the second unit at left, knowing that Jordan Black is working the second unit at the right. So we have some flexibility there, and both of those players are "dual-learning" if you will, and I'm talking about Charles and Zach.
Drew said about a week ago that the guys love this goal-line activity: really, just kind of punch it in. What do you like that you've seen so far?
"Well, I think, it's a limited snap count, and you're able to evaluate a full scrimmage mode. You're able to evaluate the slightest things. And during the course of a regular season you might only have 15 total goal line snaps, so it's a situation that doesn't come up as much as you think, yet there are some technique things that become most important down there: leverage, low off the ball; all those things that you try to emphasize. So, yesterday we did it in short yardage, today we did it in goal line, and situationally we'll find ourselves doing it next week as well where it might only be nine plays, but we get good evaluation at a number of positions and technique evaluation."
Has the NFL given you any kind of timetable on when to let you know about Will Smith and whether he'll be suspended or not?
"They have not. And the likelihood is you guys will know on or before I'll know. They have not, and I'm sure at some point we'll all find out. But I've not been given any type of timetable."
How did Tom Johnson show up in the game before he got hurt?
"He did well, he did very well. You know, if we were identifying a few players that stood out, he would have been one of those players, he was one of those players."
Has he kind of flown over the radar because of Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin?
"I think a little bit, Tom Johnson is one of those names to begin with as under the radar. But he's had a good camp, and he's smart. He was real good the other night in his snaps and hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible."
You mention the schedule change is going to be the same on the west coast. Does that allow for the time change, two hours behind?
"We'll be on their time, so whatever that is. We're going to get on their time."
So it will be later in the day for you guys?
"Yes, but we're going to be there for over seven days, so we're going to get on that time and go with it."
It's the same thought process as you've had more afternoon workouts than morning, so keep it routine?
Some of these teams are experimenting around with the kickoffs, I know you talked about it the other day, have you thought about, in preseason, doing some different things?
"Yeah, you know, the one thing we've tried to at least preach to our team is, we need to plan on, you know, every year we know we're playing nine inside games, that's a given every year. And typically in Tampa and Carolina the weather is decent. But that being said we've got to be ready for our return game and ready to cover kicks. But it allows us to say, "Hey, there's a good chance we're going to start with the ball on the 20 yard line both offensively and defensively," and we're comfortable with that. I think that you'll have to have and aggressive, you know, you find yourself in a game wanting to create field position, and so each team is going to have, including us, a corner kick that is maybe a little bit more aggressive than just a touchback with the idea that maybe you can pin them down inside the 15. But, we do feel like we have enough leg both with our punter and our kicker that we can get it into the end zone, and yet, again, there's going to be those handful of games where it's windy or the wind shifted. And we played one last year, week two, in San Francisco, where clearly if you're kicking off into that wind, regardless of where it was at, you weren't kicking it into the end zone. We've got to be on top of covering kicks."
Do you think it will have as much of an impact to reduce scoring in the league?
"No, I think it will do one thing, it will reduce total number of returns and I think the objective of it was to, by reducing total number of returns, reduce injury. I think that's something that will happen."
Does is put pressure on a guy like Courtney Roby, in addition to Darren Sproles being here to prove himself as a receiver and a gunner and stuff like that?
"Well, listen, I think one of the reasons I think Courtney has been able to make this team is not just his return ability, I would argue, he might be a better cover guy than a returner. I'm not taking anything away from his return skillset, but his ability to cover and play a gunner and play on the kickoff coverage. Those are things that will be important to him along with the rest of those guys."
What do you think about Jonathan Casillas coming back from injury? He was the leading tackler in the last game, so is that a good sign?
"He's looked healthy, I think we've managed the snaps with him. I've been encouraged, and he's the one of the guys when you see him moving around, he's got some quick twitch. So, he's doing well, he's doing well.