New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Thursday, September 29, 2011
"Let me first go through today's injury and participation lists. These five players did not practice: C Olin Kreutz (left knee), T Zach Strief (right knee), LB Martez Wilson (shoulder), TE David Thomas (concussion), and LB Will Herring (left hamstring). LB Jon Vilma (left knee) was limited today, LB Jonathan Casillas (right foot) was limited, WR Marques Colston (right shoulder) was limited, NT Shaun Rogers (right elbow) was limited, CB Tracy Porter was full, S Roman Harper was full, DT Tom Johnson was full, WR Adrian Arrington was full, and S Jonathon Amaya was full. Most of today was nickel and third down."
Are you starting to see any kind of identity yet with this team or leaders emerging?
"I think that's happening as we go each week. We're almost at the quarter pole with this being our fourth game and I think it's something that develops through the early portion or the middle portion of the season, but I would say that's begun to happen."
Who do you think would be your leader at running back?
"I think Pierre (Thomas) is someone with his experience. Each of these guys personality-wise is a little different. Pierre is a veteran player and someone that in that room, and Darren Sproles in some ways the same way. Now some guys are outspoken and some guys are a little quieter and maybe lead more from an example standpoint. But I would say with Pierre's experience, he would certainly be one in that room. And the dynamics in each position room change from year to year. You have two or three new players in the running back meeting room and a few that are no longer there so obviously there's a real good example of where maybe Heath Evans was a vocal leader in that room and is removed or no longer with us and you have Pierre who has stepped up and looked in that way."
Is it the same way with the offensive line without Jon Stinchcomb?
"Certainly with Olin (Kreutz) being a captain and with his experience is a guy that leads in his own way and sometimes that's a quiet way. You've got players like (Jahri Evans) who has been with us going on year six now so I think the same thing takes place with each position group, and I think some maybe more subtly and some more drastically based on the turnover in that room."
What was your vision for Cam Jordan and where is he along the route?
"I would say he's kind of in line with where we hoped he'd be. He was a player we felt would play in the base as well as the nickel. In other words, we felt one of his strong suits was that he was strong at the point of attack, that he would be able to play the run at that left end position and provide pass rush on nickel snaps. Certainly he's in a rotation like the rest of those guys, but quietly each week he's improved and received a good number of snaps these last three games."
Do you think there's any link to college basketball backgrounds with tight ends since two players with those types of backgrounds are playing in this game in Jimmy Graham and Mercedes Lewis?
"Going back, I think the tight end in San Diego, and he wasn't the first, but I think when someone has success like Antonio Gates had and the league sees that I think all of us pay attention to another area to scout than just the college football field. Now in Jimmy's case he had a year of football at Miami and he was at the combine and Mercedes, so I think certainly there are similarities with body styles or body builds and the skill sets that a number of basketball players have that would transition into playing football and yet I'm sure there are a number of cases that that experiment or that trial didn't have success. But I do think that it's harder to find that tight end in college football maybe than it used to be with the amount of spread offenses we're seeing, the conventional tight end. Each year there'll be two or three in the draft that are further along as receivers or further along as blockers. Typically they do one thing very well and the question is how well they can do the other. What's the vision we have? But I think going back to Antonio Gates, certainly that opened the eyes of a lot of us in the industry of really looking maybe just past football and looking for someone who might fit in that description. And we were fortunate with Jimmy's selection that we had a year to look at and then we had workouts to look at so we got to see a little bit of a player who played one year at Miami and then began to really look at where we felt like he could go and it's worked out well."
Is Marques Colston on more of an accelerated timeline than what you thought?
"I would say he's probably on schedule and things have gone well. Our plan is to incorporate him into the game plan. I said this yesterday and I know it made a lot of news, but I think he will be activated and I think he'll be in the plan. Like any player coming off an injury, I wouldn't anticipate him receiving 50 snaps but he's clear and the procedure went well. There's a small plate in his repair they used and it was fairly clean. I think there are various degrees from what I understand to this type of injury. I know players that have had it in our league have taken much longer and others have been a shorter amount and I would probably be willing to guess that a lot of it depends on the severity of the fracture."
That plate stays in there?
"It does and it sounds big and awkward, but it's much smaller and is something that when they went in and did the surgery after the Green Bay game immediately helped secure it in place. Everything in his case has gone according to plan. He received some work last week, not in team drills, but he received reps catching the ball. This week he's getting work in team drills on a limited basis and my goal is to play him."
Is there any adjustment to his shoulder padding?
"I don't think anything. He's fully healed and it's just him getting comfortable getting back out there and getting hit for the first time and going through all the adjustments."
Do you have to worry more now about the ball distribution since he's coming back?
"That's a good challenge for personnel groupings and we have a lot of different tags that we put him on the field maybe in place of someone else. We just have to be smart in this first week. Really when everyone's healthy, how do we get everyone on the field and play? Each week the bulk of our time in game planning would be spent on not just the scheme we're doing, but spent on who do we want doing it within each pass route or within each run play. Who do we want at the point of attack? Who do we want on the outside route? Who do we want on the inside route? And then having ways to communicate that pretty clearly so there's no confusion. That became a little bit of a process this week with him coming back, just in the meetings."
What do you contribute to the return of all the big plays your offense has been making this year so far?
"A lot of times, plays that we would consider shots come off of the run game or play-action pass and so that has a little more effect if you're running the ball well. And then in Devery's (Henderson) case against Chicago, that was clearly a passing third-and-twelve situation and we just happened to get a big play out of it. It starts with me calling plays that have an opportunity to get down the field feeling like the protection is going to hold up and the look is there. I think there are probably a number of things that go into it. Practicing it during the week and making certain plays a point of emphasis and then the willingness to call them and get the execution that you want. I would start with I think there are more opportunities when you're running the ball well because some of the down safety looks that you look for maybe in big play opportunities can come from that."
Even when you do have a full complement of receivers, do you feel that the way Drew Brees distributes the ball makes them feel equally involved?
"I think that's a certainty. In other words, what you're asking if I think clearly exists. I think that every one of those guys and we include the running backs and the tight ends because typically in a progression whether it's off a play-action pass or off of a dropback, typically within a progression there are checkbacks, underneath throws, throws down the field and during this course of time here it's obviously evident that the ball can go to any of those five eligibles. There are certain plays that we put in that are designed for Robert Meachem or Colston as a primary and yet that can end up in Pierre Thomas' hands on a check down or it could end up on the backside receiver's route based on the coverage. I think that's one of the things Drew does so well and it's just that everyone else making sure that they paint the right picture in regards to the route and knowing that he'll find and target the right receiver. They certainly buy into that because they see it happen each week. It's not something that we have to convince them about anymore, I think clearly they see that. That's why probably it's more challenging some weeks trying to figure out who's going to get more touches or catches. A lot of it depends on the look that we have with a certain play. Lance (Moore) catches the touchdown last week and the coverage was a bracket coverage and Lance had the single and the bracket wasn't on him. It was one outside to Jimmy and one weak and so the ball went to him when he was singled up. If the coverage was a little different it could have gone to another player."