New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Thursday, September 29, 2016
What do you see out of Melvin Gordon and the Chargers running game?
"You can definitely see there's been that offseason commitment to really work that (run) element into their gameplan in the early downs to put themselves (in manageable down and distance situations). They have done a real good job. They are 10th in the league on offensive third down conversion percentage and I think a lot of it has to do with their improved running game and their improved first and second down efficiency."
What improvements have you seen in Philip Rivers over the years?
"He's been one of those guys that I think if you chart his numbers and he's dealt with a couple injuries, but his consistency, ability to handle pressure, hang in the pocket make a funny body throw, (and) get the ball to the right player (are impressive). Their offense over the years has changed to some degree and yet he's extremely competitive. All the things you're looking for, just from a quick release to his ability to bring his team back, you never feel like when you watch them play they are never out of a game."
What kind of dynamic does Dexter McCluster give the Chargers?
"Certainly a different type back, a different style back and I think some of the challenges are just understanding when he's in the game the type (of) runs (that) you might be getting, in regards to, the scheme can be different. They've had him back at kick return. He (McCluster) is a change of pace (back), exceptionally fast, a guy that you have to pay attention to wherever he's at on the field. They have a couple guys that are unique that way. This Travis Benjamin, whose returning punts, who they signed from Cleveland last year, he's (Benjamin) another player with explosive reverse, you know down the field type plays. He's a different type of player, I'm going back to the running back now McCluster, than the receiver and yet you have to be aware where they're at each snap."
Does it seem like you have settled in with a long-term fit for Andrus Peat on the left side of the offensive line?
"I would say currently yes, just based on our health and I think that we've seen him at left guard for a few weeks and then at left tackle. When Terron's back that would be the initial vision right now."
Has his comfort level improved and have you seen improvement on the film?
"Absolutely, I think just getting comfortable with the stance and it's what he's played in college and he's very young and I think we've seen him transition there easier and I would say to the beginning of your question yes. My vision for him right now, this season would be at that left guard or left tackle position."
How do you think Vonn Bell has come along through the first couple weeks?
"He's playing well, he's in free safety packages, he's in special teams. I think he's explosive and I think her has play making ability. We're pleased with his progress and continuing to work on getting him more and more snaps."
Where does Andrus Peat fit in right now with Terron Armstead not having played on Monday night?
"He's now at left tackle (because Armstead didn't play on Monday night). When Terron comes back he's back at left guard, but no."
Is there a timeline for Terron's return?
"Yeah I'll keep you posted."
What kind of shape is Khalif Barnes in and what kind of role do you see him playing on offense?
"He is someone that we had in for a few workouts and we wanted to get his weight down and to his credit each time he came to visit us he had done a good job, where he began to cut that (weight) number down and he'll continue to do so. He's a guy that will give you some position flexibility. I think he comes in to the league obviously, in his early years as a tackle, he's played guard and he's played jumbo tight end. I like his size, he was impressive in the short period of time he was with us at the end of training camp and I think it's a good opportunity for him and us for him to come in here and give us depth and also the ability if need be to give us more of a blocking presence at tight end."
At the end of training camp, he (Khalif Barnes) was listed at 320 pounds, where is he now and what range do you like him at?
"Yeah, I wouldn't go through the weights with you, let's just leave him at 320. If that's what you have him at."
How has Rafael Bush played, compared to your expectations this year?
"He's getting healthy, he's back now and obviously has received a lot of reps. I think it's hard to answer that question after the game we just played, because there weren't a lot of great performances on defense, too often the ball got to him, which is a tough spot to be in as a safety. When you're a middle safety and you're having to break down on a real good (running) back (it's a tough situation). The production numbers you hope improve, but it wasn't a good night for any of those guys."