Following Monday's practice, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton talked about the loss of RB P.J. Hill to a season-ending triceps injury and the addition of RB DeShawn Wynn. Below is a transcript of his post-practice media session.
Can you talk about why you picked up DeShawn Wynn?
* *"He's versatile and well-versed in an offense like ours up in Green Bay. With P.J.'s (Hill) injury we felt it was necessary to bring him in here. P.J. has a torn tricep, not fully torn, but nevertheless serious and he'll have surgery tomorrow. With Wynn it was his first kind of exposure to this"
How difficult is it to add two backs and have to evaluate them so quickly in camp?
"I think like anything else you have to be ready. Fortunately we have a ways before we start the regular season. Those guys can get quickly into the playbook and get acclimated. The good news is we have three weeks this Thursday before we play, so there's time to get these guys trained, see how they do and what they're made out of."
Can you give your thoughts on Chris Ivory's performance Saturday?
"He did some good things. There are some things he has to work on in regard to landmarks. I thought he ran hard and had good effort. He has good balance and finishes his runs well, which has been pretty exciting to see and yet there are a ton of things he's working on like any rookie would be but specifically a running back. He's making progress and it was good to get him work with the ones the other night."
Does it help matters that you don't have to give one person the ball 25 or 30 times a game with all of these running back injuries affecting you?
"Number one, I think at the running back position, a year ago, we had four guys that played in the first month of the season. At some point during the year those guys get nicked up. Whether it was Pierre (Thomas) or Reggie (Bush), Lynell (Hamilton) or Mike Bell, all four of them played a pretty important role for what we did offensively. My experience is that you need to have depth at that position, because the season's long and those guys get hit often. We try to have flexibility and have enough roles for each of the players. The key is to identify those roles early and our vision for what we expect of them. There are several players that were here a year ago at this time that aren't now, Lynell being one of them, who is injured, Mike Bell being the other. These other guys are going to have to really step up and prove themselves for a spot on the roster."
Is it hard to adjust on the fly like this?
"No, it's harder when it happens in season and a player comes in on a Tuesday, studies the playbook, practices Wednesday and then plays in the game. When you have more time like we do right now, it becomes a little easier, but there's the pressure of learning quick, so that you can perform at a high level and not be thinking so much."
Can you talk about how far Jahri Evans has come in the short time out of a small school?
"He's a guy that has earned everything he's gotten, he came in in the fourth round. We were talking about it the other day. Initially in that 2006 draft we were selecting behind Houston. There was talk we were drafting Owen Daniels and the Texans took him ironically ahead of us. We traded down with Philadelphia to get Hollis Thomas also. Fortunately we selected Jahri Evans. To his credit, he's come in, he's powerful, he's smart. He's an extremely hard worker. He's someone that quickly transitioned from a small school to this level of competition. He certainly has been a big part of what we're doing offensively."
After the success you've had, do you look at yourself at the same guy you always were?
"I think the one thing is you try to be consistent. It's a different team you put together. The big thing now is trying to make the right decisions as you get closer. Certainly as a coach, no different from a player, you gain from experience in certain areas and recognize mistakes you've made and try not to repeat those. You try to be consistent and I think that would be the word. I think the players understand the expectation level and the picture's pretty clear. Collectively between the leadership in the locker room, the assistant coaches, myself, all the way to the organization, it's just trying to make sure the picture is black and white for everyone in regards to what we're trying to get accomplished."
How important is it for Ladell Betts to get on the field for your evaluation?
"I think getting him some snaps is important, trying to get him into the preseason will be important, just so we can really see what we have. Certainly his experience matters. He's getting acclimated pretty quickly. He's really smart and that's helping him with what we're doing."
Do you think he might get on the field this Friday night?
"I think he may get some reps. How many, I don't know yet. I think we can expect him playing some. It just depends on where we see his progress."
With Mike Bell getting a lot of carries last year, did you go into this offseason thinking Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush would get a heavier workload?
"We had a lot of confidence in what Lynell (Hamilton) had shown us a year ago. His workload was going to change. That being said, you have to be flexible enough, not only with what these guys are doing at running back, but can the third halfback on gameday contribute anywhere else. Losing Lynell was something that was tough in regards to him being somebody we knew and someone who played pretty well a year ago. His role expanded a little bit going into the season."
Do you think Pierre can handle a more extensive role?
"I think he can. I think certainly he's going to get plenty of touches as part of what we do. I don't like to use a proverbial number one. I think in our league you need to have flexibility and depth at that position. Does that mean he can carry 22 times in a game? Certainly. You feel the need to have depth, knowing last year, each of the four guys we were talking about was nicked up. That's a part of the game