New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
"We shift here a little bit today. I'm not really going to it on participation or any injuries until next Monday when we're required to do so. I'm just going to go through our transactions and then answer any questions about practice, but nothing about our injured players or who might or might not be playing, etc. Here are the transactions that took place today. We waived the following players: G Roger Allen, LB Ezra Butler, WR Jarred Fayson, RB Chris Taylor, WR John Chiles, T Dan Gay, FB Kolby Hurt, S DeAndre McDaniel, CB Mark Parson, C Ryan Taylor. We released DE Alex Brown and we signed K John Kasay. He's in jersey number two right now. Today was a little bit of a transitional practice, mostly just offense and defense. Tomorrow we'll shift gears in a short period of time here with Tennessee and get ready on the short week to play that game Thursday night."
Can you comment on the decision with Alex Brown?
"It was a hard decision. We spent a lot of time on it. A lot goes into it, and I said this to him today, (that) it wasn't that we drafted a young player at that position. I think you try to factor in all the practice snaps and all the game film. It was something that after going through it all and looking at the timing of it, there's still that opportunity within this next week that he'll have a chance to sign with someone else and also that door is not totally shut if that opportunity presents itself here. Nonetheless, it was a hard decision we had to make. He was the one veteran player that of course has been with us."
What did you like about John Kasay?
"With his experience, we know the player a little bit more than some of the others because he's been in our division. He's consistent. He's a veteran player and we just started getting some work with him today. Really the adjustment is in the hold because he's a left-footed kicker."
Do you think that bringing him here says anything about Garrett Hartley with his sore hip?
"It really doesn't affect his future, but certainly we have to make sure all of our bases are covered when we make a decision like this. We haven't put a timetable on it, but we play in a week and a half so we have to be prepared either way."
Since Kasay is a left-footed kicker, do you think you should go with a different holder?
"That's a good question. I think we'll go with the holder that is most apt at doing it. Both of them, Chase (Daniel) right now and Thomas Morstead, are getting comfortable doing that and working through the kinks."
With Alex Brown having been the starter, how open is that spot now since he's been released?
"To some degree, we have less time this season than normal to evaluate players without the offseason. We're going to have to look closely at our rotation. I think the actual starters that you guys know, especially on the defensive front and the receiver position, who lines up there to start the game is going to vary with how many starts they get. Obviously we're going to substitute a handful of guys in there. That being said, in this time frame of a week and a half we have to look closely at who's opposite of Will (Smith)."
With the deadline coming up to cut down to the roster limit, do you look at Thursday as the day to finalize you decision at certain positions?
"There are a handful of positions. That second set of decisions is always challenging. There are still a handful of guys we have to look closely at in this game."
Does Chase Daniel appear more comfortable at this point than he was last year?
"I would hope so. He's gotten a lot more playing time. He's gotten a lot more familiar with what we're doing and I would say the same thing with Sean Canfield. Certainly at the quarterback position, that time and the snaps and the repetitions of learning the offense and all the little things that are involved in learning that position is important. He's in a chase to get better each week and trying to improve and I thought he did some good things the other night."
How much did you have to weigh the uncertain future of Will Smith with the decision of Alex Brown?
"We really tried not to because then we would be making a decision predicated on a possible suspension. We really tried to look at it and evaluate all aspects of it but I would say that it didn't come into play because if it had come into play more we would have gone in a different direction."
With the unusual logistics of this offseason and preseason, does it change the plan for the fourth preseason game in any way?
"I think opening on Thursday can potentially change how you play as opposed to Sunday because it's such a short turnaround. That being said, there are a handful of veterans who haven't had as many snaps because of injury in this preseason that we'll look to play some to get them more up to speed and more familiar with game-like conditions. You'll see some veteran players that need the work. I think next Thursday's game can impact how you handle the fourth preseason game a little bit more than the lockout."
Can you tell us why Will Smith wasn't here today?
"He was excused for personal reasons. He had a death in the family."
Some coaches are saying they're disappointed there aren't any more two-a-days, and players are saying they feel like they're in better shape and not as badly beaten up. Do you have any thoughts on that?
"We've looked at it. With your walk-throughs in the morning and then more of an emphasis on the pads in the afternoon, I think it works for us. We're a team that has a lot of experience. I don't know that it would have been good for us in 2006. I think in 2006 there were so many decisions and a lot we needed to find out about our roster, that I think it would have been more difficult for us had it been that year as opposed to 2011. I think from a learning standpoint, it hasn't really impacted us. We've gone longer with the second practice and it's been more teaching in the walk-through. I've said this before, when they make the changes like they did in the offseason, it's a little bit like NASCAR, everyone adjusts and you go from there. It probably impacts the younger guys a little bit more. They don't have the playing time or experience, but in our case it hasn't been a big issue."
Can you talk about the progress the team has made from the preseason game against the Texans to the preseason game against the Raiders?
"In that weeks' time, I thought we did a lot better the other night. By nature, coaches are never satisfied. We're continuing to work on areas we feel like we need to improve on. There were a number of things offensively as well as defensively that we can clean up and correct and we have to. Part of that was today's practice, but we're kind of in a race to get better. With that being said, we have a short time and we're constantly looking at becoming not only more efficient but fundamentally doing things that win games for you better. I definitely felt like we played better than we did the week before."
Coming back from California, do you feel like you got what you were looking for going out to the West Coast?
"Yes, absolutely. We had really good weather and the environment was conducive to learning. There were limited distractions. Everything went very efficiently and certainly playing the next preseason game in the Bay Area made that trip a little bit easier. It's now adjusting to the time change coming back, it usually takes a couple days with two hours of time difference and getting into our routines - players, coaches, all of us – and that's what we're up against now. I cut this practice a little short, but I think it was pretty smooth there."
When you lose a kicker like Garrett Hartley and you get a guy like John Kasay with that experience coming in, how fortunate do you feel to get a guy like that?
"This year, we felt like the available depth at the kicking position was better than it has been the last couple of years. There seem to have been a handful of guys that have played well and that were available. I do feel fortunate. When you get someone like that with that kind of experience, it's no different than John Carney a few years ago. It worked well. He was able to fly in from Charlotte. In the first 24 hours it was a fairly seamless transition logistically and with his experience."
How tough is it to have a normal practice when you have as many guys out as you had today?
"It's probably standard for a lot of teams, especially coming off of preseason week three. A lot of these guys will be back at it tomorrow. We still have a little less than two weeks before we play, so in the meantime they're getting the mental reps and the film study and all the normal things they would do in the regular season."
Last year you had a target on your back as the defending champs. This year the spotlight may not be as great. How might that impact your team?
"Ultimately it comes down to playing well consistently each week. Sure there's added pressure at times coming off a Super Bowl. You work hard each year to put yourself in a position hopefully for a playoff opportunity. With that comes Thursday night games, nationally televised games, and schedules that are a little bit different. Those are all the things we were hoping to have in place when we started here in 2006. It's a different season and really it's a different team. When you look at the makeup in a week here when you have the final roster and you compare it to 2010 or you compare it to 2009, there will be a lot of differences."