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Q&A: Sean Payton's Wednesday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Wednesday conference call with local media

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What is the difference preparing for an interior pass rusher like Aaron Donald as opposed to some of the outside guys that you've had success against?
"I think it's a good question, when you are preparing for an edge rusher an outside player, which would probably be the case each weekend there is always somebody. There are alignments that you can take formationally. There are things that you can do with your tight end, receivers even, backs. When you're preparing for a three technique it's a little bit more challenging, you can kind of turn your protection. If you picture a three technique and then the other defensive tackle maybe being a little tighter you can kind of initiate your turn and try to take you're (protection) if looking at left guard, center, right guard and he's lined up over the right guard as a three technique outside you can kind of slide the line a little that way when you're not getting pressure looks, but the distinct difference is you can't buy alignment necessarily, create ways to change his rush pattern. Another words you can't push someone (or) align someone in the B gap to slow down a three technique, different than when you're preparing for an edge rusher."

What are the challenges Tavon Austin presents in the return game?
"He's extremely fast and confident with the football in his hands. We've watched him all the way through college, (NFL Scouting) combine, into our league, they do a ton of different things to get him the football. You see him lining up at halfback, you see him on the speed sweeps. He is one of those players where I'm sure there is a certain pitch count, let's see if we can't get him X number of touches. You put him back there as a punt returner now he has space and he has that confidence with each time the ball is punted that he can make a difference with one play, that is a challenge."

What do you think about Aaron Donald's consistent ability to produce?
"It's outstanding, you just pick a game and put it on and different than television copies just pick a coaches' tape copy and put it on and you watch him and combine all of these things, you combine (being) extremely athletic and then you combine smart and then you'd say his effort and energy. I mean it takes a lot of energy to do that inside and that's why you see us rotating Sheldon (Rankins), (Nick) Fairley, (David) Onyemata. You will get in a substitution package where you are just trying to keep those guys fresh because it requires a lot of effort and energy and when you get that combination of all those critical factors you end up with an elite player."

Are you seeing some special qualities from Sheldon Rankins?
"Absolutely, this past week in Carolina he had some outstanding snaps. We're encouraged and it's helping our pass rush in general."

Is Mark Ingram in concussion protocol?
"I know I can't officially tell you if he was in the protocol or not. I know he's going to practice today. I think it's encouraging with him and I think I've said that all along."

Have you heard any updates on whether or not (Kenny) Vaccaro's been suspended?
"Yes, I'm not going to go through the injuries. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't misstating something on (Mark) Ingram."

What is challenge of scouting a guy like Jared Goff considering you don't have much tape in the league?
"I think number one you still prepare for the upcoming offense, because it's not like it's an entirely new system there moving too with the change in quarterback. You still have to prepare for the receiver threats, you have to prepare for (Todd) Gurley, how they like to use him, what are the schemes in the running game? You have preseason tape and at this junction at this point in the season 10 games in, I think there is plenty of tape to look at and say this is what we think they are and who they want to be and obviously there will be some wrinkles. I thought he handled everything pretty well last weekend. The thing that I saw is I thought he did a pretty good job avoiding and creating a little bit outside the pocket, rushing for a first down. I thought he handled it pretty well."

Do you find you can take a few more chances on the offensive side of the ball since your defense is playing well?
"Yes, I think it is week to week and I say that because last week for instance Carolina in that game wasn't going to allow a ball over the heads. You just have to look at what happened in the first game against them and Sean McDermott's a smart guy and a good football coach and they were going to be on top of (our routes), there were a handful of shot plays we tried and called either had to check it down or change what we were doing at the line of scrimmage, but my point being is sometimes you have to look closely at what they're trying to take away and it was apparent after the second series of that game, this was going to be hard to get on top of them. In fact, and give them credit we were going to have to complete balls in the seams and underneath. It didn't affect your decision to throw or run, but certainly your approach throwing had to be paying attention to that."

What do you see in the Rams defense that is allowing teams only 15 points a game?
"I think they are doing a few things well. They rush the passer well. I think they are playing with a lot of confidence now. When you watch the film they are aggressive to the football. They are constantly looking for the takeaway opportunity. I think that front is very challenging and their athletic. (Alec) Olgetree is playing at the Mike position, where James (Laurinaitis) played a year ago and he has good command of what they are doing defensively. (Mark) Barron is another guy who's playing now again in more of a Will position. They have been in some sub fronts, a lot of it has been in sub defense and then the other thing is the multiple looks that they give you. They will give you some three down stuff, they're going to give you some bear, some five-man rush, a lot of different pressure variations, so a lot of film work."

What have you seen out of Cam Jordan as a run defender this season?
"I think he's played the run well. Listen, none of us want to put the Atlanta tape back on, but I think I wouldn't look at Cam as a one-dimensional type of player. I think one of the things that is a strength of his is, A his stamina and then B I would say I think he does both of those tasks fairly well."

Was Jared Goff one of the quarterbacks that really jumped off the board and what did you like or see in him?
"We studied him like everyone else. That early part of the draft comes up and you're looking at him and the others that are initially graded. Then we adjust the grades and clearly there is a reason you're the first player picked in the draft and you understand clubs looking for one at that position. There is probably going to be a cost that is a little higher than you ever adjusted too and yet that is just how it is when you're drafting that position and I think that having a conviction and seeing a player that fits what you're wanting and then doing it is wise."

How much has Brandin Cooks matured as a route runner and blocker?
"I think he does a lot of things and I would say the last year and a half he's got(ten) active inside in different slot positions and not just outside. He will be involved in the run game. Certainly, he is a guy that we can get the ball to as a reverse or around type of guy and I think he is up for the challenge each week. There might be a certain play that he's not ran and on Wednesday', today when the install comes out all of a sudden one of these guys they pay attention to that. If all of a sudden he's asked to do something today for the first time maybe more so than he has in a game on a certain play good or bad their smart enough to look at the installation and see what they are doing with each play."

What makes Dannell Ellerbe so special?
"I think his strengths are his quickness, speed, and agility. His change of direction and then the second element that I think helps him and this is a great trait to have as a linebacker is he's football savvy and smart. His (ability to) key and diagnose, split flow, full flow by the backs, backs at seven yards looks like run. In other words he is a pretty smart snap to snap player and that's a good thing."

Is Avery Young going to start practicing and what do you guys like about him?
"I think the plan for us is to get some work done with him. We like the fact that he has size and we saw him play a couple positions. He's strong, very strong, I am sure he will take a while to get him back in shape. I know he has been conditioning and rehabbing, you get a young lineman like that though they are hard to find and this was a class that we were able to sign a number of them."

How does the addition of Kevin O'Dea change the duties of Greg McMahon?
"I think this, we're looking to fortify the troops not change them right now and I think a guy like Kevin who I have known over the years and yet never worked with is someone that comes with an expertise in developing and training kickers number one, but also a guy that has been a special teams coordinator, he's been (and) assistant special teams coach. I know he is thought highly of when you go back and research where he has been and having a chance to talk with Lovie Smith and I think it is tough for just one coach to say you are going to be in charge of all these units. Most teams have a coordinator and an assistant and then maybe some younger coaches that work during the actual practice with special teams, but it's our special teams as a staff and that requires our o-line coach, requires me, it requires our attention and no different than the players' mindset regarding that unit. Because you take every snap in the game and call it 140, 150,170 there all units equally important for field position, equally important for turnover opportunities and I think Kevin's (O'Dea) experience will help Greg and Stan (Kwan)."

Do you look at the recent success of some rookie quarterbacks and try and make them uncomfortable defensively?
"I think it starts with the plan. I mean we are trying to make the quarterback every week feel uncomfortable. Some weeks it's more difficult than others. I'm sure we'll spend a ton of time on this tape and try and come up with the best plan possible defensively and more importantly as a team in winning a game like this."

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