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Post-Scrimmage Q&A with Coach Payton

    **Opening Statement:**  

Sean Payton: "We cut it back a little bit because we were a little shorthanded at a couple of positions – defensive tackle with Brian Young being held out and Hollis Thomas the same way, and we were short at receiver as well. But it will give us some good film to watch. Tomorrow, these guys will come in in the afternoon and we'll review the tape, they'll lift and then we'll install again for a Monday two-a-day 'A' schedule. That's where we're at as far as the itinerary. I'm sure there will be a number of things that we'll need to clean up and correct; you can see some of that from the field. And there will be some things that we'll be encouraged about, I'm sure. Overall, I think guys stayed mostly healthy. For the guys that did participate, we had a couple of little nicks but nothing really serious."

What did you like from an execution standpoint?

Payton: "We put ourselves in some third-and-longs and Drew was able to convert some of those while we struggled a little bit more with the other group converting them. We dropped some passes. We had pretty good pressure on the quarterback defensively. The hard thing with having a scrimmage like this is always trying to measure sacks and trying to measure point of contact as to where a guy is down. But I thought we got a lot of good work in."

Do you feel better about the team as opposed to this time last year?

Payton: "That's hard to say. We have some new faces, some new acquisitions. I think we've improved on the defensive side of the ball from this time a year ago, that would be the one thing that I could point to."

Did the play of Skyler Green impress you?

Payton: "We still have a long road, but it was encouraging. He had a good return and I thought he had a good catch, but they ruled it out of bounds. He knows what to do and he's explosive, so that's encouraging."

Were you pleased with Sedrick Ellis? He seemed to get a lot of reps.

Payton: "I'd have to watch the tape. A lot of those guys got a lot of reps because we were short there. We had a few tackles out. There were a few positions that were just going to have to play a lot more than some of the other positions and the concern when that happens is injury. Receiver, linebacker and defensive tackle were the three areas that we knew that we were going to be playing with fewer guys and a lot of reps, and I think we managed it ok."

Could you speak about holding Jonathan Vilma out and how Mark Simoneau has responded to the challenge for his starting spot?

Payton: "It would be hard to say until we watch the tape, but I think in the case of Jonathan – much like Deuce, McKenzie and Shockey – we're just wanting to be smart as we transition these guys back off of their injuries. The good news is that we have a whole preseason that we haven't started yet, and we have a lot of competition."

Were there any players that really stood out today?

Payton: "I'd have to watch the tape from today. In fairness to some of the guys, it's hard to evaluate from the field-level the way that certain guys play inside, be it on the offensive or defensive lines. It's easier to evaluate some of the skill positions. I thought Drew looked sharp. He had a couple of passes dropped early but he responded well. I thought defensively those guys did a pretty good job of keeping the ball in front of them and playing with pretty good speed. It seemed like we had pretty good pressure on the quarterback for the most part and we'll go from there. We probably had about 60 plays and at the end of it all, it really isn't much different than a practice."

Was there a reason that Martín Gramatica kicked five field goals and Taylor Mehlhaff four?

Payton: "Gramatica went five and by the time Mehlhaff was kicking, I just told Greg (McMahon) that it was time to get the scrimmage started. I think one was four-for-five and the other four-for-four."

What do you see that makes you think the defense is better than last year?

Payton: "I think we're a little bit healthier than we were at this time last year. We're playing with pretty good awareness – the guys aren't dropping coverage and the guys up front are doing a pretty good job of getting to the passer. I think from a technique standpoint, you're not seeing the same mental errors or the same mistakes that we had in the past. I think we're playing better in the secondary than we were a year ago."

On Mehlhaff's kickoff that Skyler Green returned, was he purposely going high with that one?

Payton: "Yes."

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