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Q&A: Sean Payton's Thursday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Thursday conference call

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can you talk about the decision to place P.J. Williams on Injured Reserve. Was there anything further than a concussion that he was dealing with?

* *"No. It's a concussion, but it is one that is significant enough you wouldn't really see on a normal basis. He (Williams) will be able to make a full recovery. He will be able to return to football in the offseason and yet I would say probably one of the more severe concussions that I have seen. It is not measured just by on the field. There are a series of tests they do and they are able to determine how much trauma in the event, his is one where the rest and recovery is going to be necessary. All the experts really take a peek at the different slides and scans. So that made the decision to put him on IR, obviously an easy one but challenging. We went ahead and signed Tony Hills to the roster."

Is that something you might not have done five years ago knowing more in this day with improved medicine and being more cautious?

* *"No, this is not us or we. When they scan this concussion, they are able to measure to some degree the type of trauma he had and it was significant. You could tell on the field it was significant. I don't know whether five years ago this would have been the exact protocol but it's an easy one for us right now."

How long was he unconscious? We saw the way he was laying there.

* *"I would not want to guess. A good portion of while he was on the field. The medical people got there and they (were) just wanting to make sure he was breathing properly. All of that was taking place and then there is a period of time when he's on the field going to the cart, but a longer period of time than normal compared to what we've seen or what we're little bit more used to seeing."

How is P.J. now?

* *"He is doing better.  He spent the night sleeping. I can't speak for him, but I'm sure disappointment to some degree because the type of recovery of just having gotten into a position where he is competing/playing and starting. From an encouraging standpoint none of this will carry over and limit him anyway in the future. I think more than anything else it has been rest and recovery getting back into the routine here."

He (P.J. Williams) is able to be at the facility?

 "Yes. He is up moving around. He was here yesterday having breakfast, I saw him."

The way Craig Robertson has played, how do you plan on continuing to utilize him when (Dannell) Ellerbe returns?

* *"I think we have a handful of packages and we'll be smart on how we deploy them. I think he's played well. It's a good problem to have and defensively we did a lot of things well in that game. But if you're watching our personnel groupings based on our opponent, there are generally two, three or maybe four packages and we'll put the best guys on the field in those packages."

How has the improved depth at safety helped you guys this year?

* *"Well you have some versatility with it. I thought Vonn Bell played pretty well Sunday and it gives you flexibility to play two safeties/three safeties looks. Obviously it helps with (the) kicking game, (where those) guys can play special teams."

Just a quick one on Tevin Coleman, they're going with more of a two-running back system. I was wondering if you could kind of comment your view on how they are approaching the running game and what kind of challenge that presents?

* *"Well, I would say this, they are very good at running the football. It is important to what they are doing offensively. Both backs are explosive and we know them both well from the draft. (Tevin) Coleman is kind of more of a slash/straight line speed guy. We have got to be prepared to handle that wide zone scheme and how they run it and they have some misdirection. They do a great job as good as anyone with their boots and naked scheme. Just simulating that speed with the running game and the angles in which it hits is always one of the challenges."

What are some of the things you can do to prevent this from snowballing into 0-3? What are some of the signs you can see to not have that attitude trickle into their mindset?

* *"I don't see that as an issue. I think our focus and attention to detail has been good. Guys are working hard and preparing hard. I think more than anything there is sense of frustration after a tough loss like that. No different than the week before but I think they know that we are playing a division team on Monday night against Atlanta. These games have been close. That in itself is the whole reason you are working hard and you understand the importance of the game. I don't sense that at all."

You mentioned the Falcons running back tandem. What about their tight ends? Especially when you look how they were used against Oakland last week.

* *"Well you get into some of this play action. They have two that got a lot of work last week with the rookie and (Jacob) Tamme. The boots, the naked and the returns, they do a good job with getting the ball out in the passing game. You would say in two week they did a good job."

Do the injuries to the cornerbacks limit what you guys can do?

"I think number one, you're preparing the guys that are getting ready to play and then I think you're always mindful of the strengths of the guys that are in the gameplan and trying to tailor the gameplan around what they do well."

Are you expecting an emotional atmosphere given the 10-year anniversary of the Superdome re-opening?

"I wouldn't say so, having been through the actual (re-)opening, that was emotional. I said this and I'm not downplaying this, but last year was the 10th year anniversary of Katrina and this is the 10th year 10th year anniversary of the opening of the dome. Many of these players here, I'm sure saw it and heard about it, but I see it being an emotional, physical game, Monday Night Football, a division opponent and I don't think that will come into play as much."

How often do you actually reflect on the re-opening of the Superdome game, what it meant for your career and what it meant for the city?

"Everyone stated the symbolism in that game. That idea of rebirth, that idea of the begin(ing) back to normalcy if you will. Coming here right after Katrina there was a lot concern, in regards to, the long term future of your healthcare, your schools. Forget sports for a while, there's a period of time where just life as New Orleanians new it or Louisiana residents knew it, how would that be affected years later, so you have this event that coincides with the opening of an area that was used to shelter people. There were a ton of thigs that were unreal about it and then of course the game itself, I don't remember a lot of it. I remember parts of it and knowing that there were going to be traffic issues and I remember going early a couple days before to have a night practice to get used to the lighting and try make sure the players got used to that environment, before they were actually in that game. It was the first series where Steve (Gleason) blocks the punt and I remember we had an eight-man rush in and John Bonamego aka. Bono…there was two Bono's that night. (John) Bonamego, who is now the head coach at Central Michigan, came to me during that first series and said do you want to rush the punt right here on the very first one and I said let's do it. The one part that I didn't remember was (Scott) Fujita caused fumble that all of a sudden we almost pick that thing up and we would have never seen the blocked punt, but obviously that was an emotional night and it was loud, as loud as we've seen."

Does the message of rebirth fit with this team this week?

"I think it's more of a ten-year anniversary for the city, but I don't think this team puts their helmets on an hour before kickoff (and that's the prominent thing on their mind). This is an important division game and I would say to answer your question, I think the focus is on this game, one team is 0-2 trying to get a win and another team is 1-1 early in this season, both in the same division. I think it's not as significant, but more importantly just a celebration of that game 10 years ago, if that makes sense."

How many (bad calls) do you submit to the league for review?

"I didn't submit any, I'm not going to come in here every Monday and get on the phone for a half a day, periodically there will be something, if it (is) egregious or something that is just completely (egregious) then I might call Dean (Blandino) and send it in. Two weeks ago the 4th and 5th interference call that were sent in, but look when you're receiving a lot of bump and run, it's kind of back and forth with the corner and the receiver and it's something that you continue to work on and you learn to try to understand it and utilize yourself what you do offensively."

Is Coby Fleener's consistency just based on time on task?

"I think some of it is, yesterday we had good work. It's just that confidence level, timing level, he's (Fleener) is a big target. What are the specific things that he does well in man and zone and again I think overall our third down numbers are down? Now we are two weeks into it (the season) and yet yesterday watching every third down and then looking going back looking at everything on third down from a year ago, ultimately you're receiving contested coverage or receiving tight man to man coverage and I think the key formationally with your players is how you separate from man to man coverage."

How is Zach (Strief) recovering from that game?

"All good."

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