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Payton Thursday Q-A

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Opening Statement:

"Going through the injury report first – these four did not practice and are out for this game: Marques Colston (thumb), David Patten (groin), Jeremy Shockey (hernia), Aaron Glenn (ankle). Sedrick Ellis did not practice; he just went through individual drills and we sent him inside with his right knee. We're going to get it looked at. He's listed as did not practice. Chris Reis (hamstring), did not practice, and then the following players all practiced on a limited basis: Randall Gay (hamstring), Jonathan Goodwin (hamstring), Mike Karney (ankle), Mark Campbell (hamstring), Troy Evans (ankle), Aaron Stecker (hamstring), Terrance Copper (hamstring), Olaniyi Sobomehin (shoulder). Sedrick Ellis is really the new one on this list."

Sedrick Ellis practiced fully yesterday? Is this something that happened to him yesterday?

"No, he felt good. He came out in individual and felt it kind of click on him so we sent him in and we'll have it looked at and see where he's at."

Do you have any sense for whether or not he might miss the game?

"I have no idea. They have to examine it and see what it is. Hopefully it's nothing serious."

Does that make it important that Antwan Lake is back and playing?

"Yes. He has recovered and is doing well."

Would Mike Karney be a good guy to have in this type of game?

"He provides a physical presence. He was limited today, but he's close to being full. I imagine tomorrow he'll be full with the practice reps."

What are your thoughts on Drew Brees being named NFC Offensive Player of the Month?

"He has been sharp. He has been consistent. He's been everything we have talked about. It seems like every time his name comes up, the same things come out. He's playing with a lot of confidence right now; he has a good command of what we're doing, and he has really been efficient. He has gotten the ball down the field a lot and then in the underneath throws he has a great idea of what we're wanting to do. I'm sure he'll keep it up; he's doing well."

Is it more amazing that he's doing it without Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, his main downfield threats?

"He has confidence – and you've heard him talk about it – in these other guys that have been in the offense and have been practicing with us. It doesn't make it easier – it makes it more challenging – yet I think there is confidence with those players that if they're open in the progression that they are going to get the football. It's not like he's just going to drop back and try to find a guy that he's targeting. There's a progression; there's a read progression with each play and he knows it well."

Does the mindset that you have when facing a physical defense help the offense going into the game?

"I think it's a big challenge. We try as coaches to really just tell them what we think and not candy-coat – good or bad – the opponent and their personnel. We try to make sure they see what we see on film and I think when you put the film on you can see the things that you're talking about. You see a real good front and you see in active linebackers that run and corners that tackle very well – (Antoine) Winfield is an extremely good player. Those are the things that you talk about and look at and study, and you prepare for them."

Through four games have you gotten about as much out of Sedrick Ellis and Tracy Porter as you could have expected?

"They have both been starting and as rookies, they've been heavily involved. It's early, but it's good to see the progress that they have made. It's good to see Carl Nicks stepping in and playing right away and having his opportunity. That has all been encouraging."

Are Ellis and Porter cornerstones of the effort to elevate this defense long-term?

"There are a number of guys that we tried to add. Those are two young guys that are playing right now, certainly. Jonathan Vilma is another player and Bobby McCray is another player. I think as long as they all understand their role and how to help us, they are pieces to a big picture."

Did Porter show you something with the way he responded to giving up the big play in Washington?

"Yes. He's a competitive player. He's a guy that has a lot of confidence, which at that position is a good thing. He's going to learn and understand the coverage schemes of what we're giving up and what we're trying to take away and I think it starts with that."

Is he your starting cornerback if everyone were healthy?

"Right now he is. We deal on a week-by-week basis. He's our starting right corner, yes."

Does it help that these guys have come in with a love of the game and are coachable?

"I think that's very important. The understanding first and foremost is that we want them to do their job. These are guys that enjoy competing and enjoy playing. You're trying as best you can during the draft process to find those guys that you think are going to transition to this level with that same competitive fire and willingness to learn."

Do you have thoughts on the quarterback situation in Minnesota?

"One thing about Brad (Childress), and I've known Brad for a while, is that from his time in Philly he has filled that position quite well. Same for Darrell (Bevell), who's there as well. They will have a good scheme in place to suit the player who's under center, regardless of who it is. Looking at all the years that he was in Philly, he was a big part of Donovan's (McNabb) growth from a rookie first-round pick to where he's at now, and I think that's something that he'll be able to lean on – his experience coaching that position and working with offense. He has been a part of a lot of real good offenses."

Does the transition they've had at quarterback make their early-season record deceiving at all?

"Looking at their early-season record, if you study the Colts game closely, that goes either way. You could use the same analogy to one of our losses, but that game goes either way. Certainly the Packers game was hard-fought and the game they played up in Tennessee was also, aside from the turnovers. Clearly for us, we know we're seeing a good football team, regardless of the record. Our record is 2-2; it's not 4-0, so we're going to have to play well and I think our players understand that."

What are some of the ways that Drew continues to evolve that might not be apparent to a casual observer?

"I think it's non-stop with his study of not only the defense, but the scheme offensively as to what we're doing where his answers are. He asks a lot of questions and mentally he goes through – let's say there are 75 pass patterns in a game plan – he goes through first, second and third options and how they might unfold within those, and then he spends a lot of time looking through the list and paying attention to the ones he feels most comfortable with. At the end of the week, we sit down and go through each section – play-action, drop-back, third down, red zone – and come to an agreement as to the plays during the week that we feel that we want to go in with first. Also he's a guy that takes extremely good care of his body. He's a hard worker in the weight room, he eats right, he has a good routine. Everything from his supplement routine to his sleep habits – everything is really devoted to playing the best he can at that position. He works extremely hard. I think the elite players at that position in our league outwork a lot of the others. They are extremely, extremely hard workers and he's one of those guys."

What kind of adjustments is he able to make during a game?

"He'll have input during the game. He pays attention closely to what we're seeing that's different. For instance, we played in Denver and like I said after the game, there was really nothing but man coverage the week leading up to it as far as what we practiced against – we had seen that against San Diego and against Oakland – so a lot of the week's preparation was against man and we came out and were getting a lot more zone. He's able to transition into that mindset pretty quickly and not get stuck with any one certain type of defense. He's pretty flexible. He sees the defense real well."

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