New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonPost-practice media availability transcriptMonday, August 8, 2016
"Just a couple of quick updates; Terron Armstead is coming off of the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. He's at a point where he's getting close to 100 percent. He won't play in this game, and we won't practice him. He probably will get some individual work in pads, and then we'll be clear to be full once we get back from New England. One roster move: we signed long snapper Chris Highland, and then we terminated the contract of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. We're at 90. We leave here later this afternoon. We still have some meetings to cover, both New England meetings for our players and then a little bit of this practice."
As far as the tempo, could you have on Wednesday the type of practice you had out there today, even though it'll be the day before the game?
"I think our plan is to be in pads tomorrow, and then on Wednesday, actually, we're going to be in helmets and shoulder pads. When you look at it, if we went back a little bit, we've had two-a-days the day before preseason games because there is a limited amount of reps guys are getting. Quite honestly, if you looked at those practices, there's a limited amount of snaps when it's said and done. We'll get some situational work done. We'll get some specific stuff that we feel like can help up both teams, and kind of get ready to go. But tomorrow we'll be in full pads and then Wednesday we'll be in shoulder pads and helmets."
What went behind the decision to not have practice yesterday?
"I don't know what I was thinking putting the schedule together. I don't like the idea of the off-day being the day right before you're practicing full pads with another team. It didn't change anything; we just took yesterday's practice that we were going to get and moved it to today. The other thing is (that) there are a handful of things that you want to meet and talk about regarding the week in New England. The idea of giving them that information yesterday when even some of it wasn't completely etched in stone—that was just dumb on my part. So that was an easy call, and I'll probably switch it around in a week when it shows the Houston week. I think it shows Wednesday off. We travel—we'll probably be off Tuesday, practice like we're doing now. I think it's important for these guys to get out here and move around after the off day, and I don't know that that would have been a really wise decision, you know, against another team."
Lance Moore announced his retirement today; what did he mean to your team?
"Man, he's one of the best receivers that's played here. I would say, the thing that stands out, man, he was consistent. He would come up big on third down and in the red area. He had a tremendous career. You're always fond of those guys that start on first base, you know? Lance, clearly, he started in the dugout. He played over in Europe, then on a practice squad, worked his way into a starting lineup, and was a part of our championship run. He played a long time. That consistency—and I'm not speaking for Drew (Brees)—but when the quarterback has that much confidence in a player, that he knows he's going to separate, get open, and find the right holes in the defense, the game will miss a guy like him. He was outstanding."
Talk about the opportunity for (Garrett) Grayson. It looks like you're going to give him every opportunity with different groups, especially the ones or twos, going against New England, not only in practice, but also in the game.
"I think one of the benefits of (having) only three quarterbacks, you're going to be able to get good work with those guys. So, we'll sort through how we're going to play this game and the amount of time (he will receive). But I would expect he and Luke (McCown) to really get a good amount of work. You know, Drew (Brees) will get some snaps, I'm sure, but Drew will get a lot of the work during the week. But, with four preseason games, we ought to be able to get some really good snaps and a chance to evaluate (Grayson), not only with one unit but also possibly with other units, where the surrounding cast obviously matters at that position."
Talk about Tommylee Lewis. Again, he showed today that he's able to get separation. He made nice catches. How has he continued to progress?
"He's tough. He's got that grit. He's not really tall, but he can run. He's fast. There is some suddenness to him. I think each day he does something. He gets open; he makes a play. Like the rest of them, he's learning a lot of the nuances of the splits, the technique of what he has to do. You know, he has to continue to work hard in that area. He really was a guy that wasn't on our radar at all. He's from Florida, and that little pocket—Bishop Dwyer High School (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) is where he played, then he went to Northern Illinois—(Bill) Parcells is down there retired. He's got a group of these players that are getting ready for the draft, and Bill kind of will go out there and work with them. This was his guy. So, I don't know that we had great exposure with the tape, but we signed him right after the draft and, shoot, I'm glad we did. I said this earlier, he reminds me of a young David Patten, who ended up being a really good player for quite a while. So, hopefully, he can continue to make progress."
How excited are you about seeing him on special teams?
"Listen, he plays hard. He's one of those guys you watch in practice, and he practices like that's his last practice to make an impression each day. If you guys can recall camp last year, watching Willie Snead, he just kept showing up each day in different phases, whether it was as a gunner or as a receiver. That sense of urgency can really help a player, especially a free agent."
The (Hakeem) Nicks decision, was it a numbers game? Obviously, you gave him a chance to catch on with another team.
"Yes, partly. I think we feel deep enough right now with receivers. You know, we knew going in (that) we were looking to add a long snapper. We were hoping to add a long snapper at some point, just to take a little stress off of (Justin) Drescher. The guy we signed is a guy we're familiar with, that we've had before, and he's pretty good. So, that competition will be good as well."
Looking at veterans, you've always had that older guy on the defensive line. Looking at C.J. Wilson, a seven-year guy, he has around 19 starts. What is his opportunity?
"I think it's good. He and (Darryl) Tapp are veteran guys that bring an element of experience, if you will, to the room. (John) Kuhn is doing the same thing. You're around him. They've been through a lot of battles; they've played in a lot of games. They understand what it takes to be successful. When we evaluate the tape, we're eliminating any bias towards how old they are (or) how we acquired them. Can they fill a role? Can this team, this year, win? That's kind of been the main focus, and obviously, the most important part of these next four weeks and getting to the right 53 (players)."
How has the experience been up here this year?
"It's been great. Man, it's been fantastic. Today was cooler than the prior days. We still have another week to go when we get back. The functionality of this field, the dining hall, where you lift weights, the meetings, all of it is fantastic. You couple that with the service and the people that are helping you. I think from a timing standpoint, with all that's gone on and what they've been through, hopefully, in some small way, it's helped."
Some of these young corners have shown really good ball skills. De'Vante Harris lays down in the end zone to break that up. What do you see from him?
"He's got quick feet, he's smart (and) he's a guy that does show up on film. I think he's got really good instincts and he can put his foot in the ground. I think he's doing well. He and (Ken) Crawley, we've got a handful of those guys that you don't know exactly what you're getting until you get out here and the pads are on. I'm anxious to see how they do the next three days."
Are you really pleased with how the scouting department has done this year identifying all these guys that have shown up and done well?
"We have to play a game first before we send them to Canton (Ohio) but, yeah that's encouraging and we've been able to, over the years, find some guys. It's a seven round draft now but they used to have 12 or 15 rounds, so when that draft ends after the seventh round there's a group of football players, good players. There isn't a science to it. If you sat in the room, you'd laugh but, the phones are going and you know you've got about an hour. You're talking with agents, you're talking with parents, you're talking with the prospect and to their credit, the prospects are looking closely at the teams (and) what they (drafted). That's why we were able to draft some of the offensive linemen that we got because we weren't able to draft a guard for instance. Normally that would be a tough group to sign and we got three or four guys right away.
Along those lines, a guy like Jim Wilks, one of the greatest draft picks in Saints history, was a 12th round pick from San Diego State; this day and age he'd be a free agent?
"He's a free agent, $5,000 signing bonus, $2,500 after taxes. (Marques) Colston was a compensatory pick I believe. It's there and we constantly look at how do we increase our percentages in the early rounds, what are the measurables, what are the things we can look to test for that can reduce that margin of error. I know everyone believes that when that draft ends (on) day three, we'll quickly put up a reminder 'hey these guys were all free agents'. There's a countless number of players that have been successful in our league. It's great to see guys out here competing and realistically to make the team and possibly play."
So because of Bill Parcells was Tommylee (Lewis) high on your list for a potential signing?
"If it wasn't for Bill (Parcells') recommendation, he wouldn't be here and I know he had an opportunity in Canada so I think he probably would have taken that Canadian league opportunity, that's the truth. When I say not on the radar, I mean not on the radar like at all, and yet Bill's pretty good or pretty astute. Now there's a caveat, he said this guy's not going to be very tall when you meet him but he's doing well."
Just getting back to the Greenbrier, how much, if at all have you discussed the possibility of extending that contract?
"That wouldn't even be my deal. I haven't really even talked to Mickey (Loomis) about any of that. It's awesome here. The setup here is perfect."
Does that depend on the success of this season or not really?
"I don't know. I think the set up, and the facilities, and everything you look for is fantastic and then you also talk about the people, it's a two-way street. It's important that anywhere you're at, they really want your team to be there. I think our guys (and this is) year three, knock on wood, but we haven't had one incident. Last year we had those hover boards in the hallways and that was it. We put an end to that. Both sides have been good and the relationship has been outstanding."
How much value do you and you're staff get from being around another staff and just seeing what they do at these joint practices?
"I think a lot. To have a chance to practice with this team (New England), you've heard me say it before, it's great for the players (and for) myself as a head coach. I think you constantly are paying attention, I know I am, to what Bill (Belichick) is doing. That's something we don't take for granted. What he's accomplished, what they've been able to accomplish, and what they are continuing to strive to accomplish is special. I think being around a good team like that is positive for your team. This is our fourth one I think."
Just getting back to Tommylee Lewis, I remember you said that (Bill) Parcells, when you were together, he surprised you like (Darren) Sproles because he was such a size speed guy. Does it surprise you that he's recommending a guy that was 5'7"?
"It came with a caveat though. He's definitely a size speed guy. The first thing he says is 'look, you're going to hate his height but this guy has a little something to him'. He'd just been around him enough to know that he was tough. It wasn't like he was giving us this name to draft in the second or third round. Obviously, I trust Bill (Parcells) quite a bit and value so many different things, so when he has a guy that you're talking about signing as a free agent, I'm like (yes). We just had to make sure he wasn't drafted, and then boom we're on the phone and here he is. He's doing good. He'll be fired up Thursday night, just as all these young guys will, dealing with nerves and dealing with the things that you have to do professionally, and that's what is always exciting about the first preseason game. Just seeing the young guys get out there and compete, they will make mistakes but how they respond, all of that, the growth."
Were you somewhat surprised that the Hall of Fame game got cancelled? You would think that in this day and age that (they'd use the correct paint for the field). It's kind of disappointing with Tom Benson and with what he invested in Tom Benson field, that they aren't actually playing that game.
"I wasn't watching or really paying any attention, and really got it after the fact so not seeing any of it or really hearing the commentary, obviously, they made a decision that was very difficult. I have no idea what happened to the surface or why it happened. Look, it's disappointing for the fans and people put their schedule together around hall of fame weekend so, obviously, it's unusual. In this day and age, I'm sure we'll be able to sort through it and figure out what it is that was done, and we might go back to that Notre Dame field that's just strictly the lines with the diagonals in the end zone and just keep it simple."