New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonThursday, June 8, 2017Post-OTA Media Availability
Who won the scavenger hunt yesterday?
"It is being contested. It is kind of like a Florida election. Brees and Dennis Allen's group—there are going to be a lot of hearings, I guess you would say since that is the popular word right now. Not congressional hearings, but there are going to be some hearings."
"It cannot be me, but someone I am close to."
Were the awards given already?
"The awards were given."Nick Fairley was not here for OTAs. There was obviously the report over the weekend (concerning a health-issue). Can we anticipate him at minicamp?
"Right now, where it is at is—he has received two professional opinions. The first one was one that advised that he should not play football again. The second opinion was a little different, and he is getting a third opinion or has already gotten a third opinion. We are waiting on that opinion. The things we know are this: it is obviously something significant and serious that we have got to pay attention to, obviously both for Nick and for the club. So, we are hopeful, and yet we are guarded because of the type of condition that we are talking about. When he came out in the draft, he was someone that at the combine physical had what I would say is not very uncommon—an enlarged heart, something that a lot of the athletes that we see during the physicals have. But one examination saw further concern, and that is why he has not been doing anything right now until we get a better feel for where he is at. So, we are hoping. We are obviously wanting to get every experts eyes on this study and examinations, and I am sure Nick and his agent feel the same way. But it is challenging."
That being said, he was given a new contract. Was a physical done before that?
"Yes. That's the ongoing challenge, because part of the process was during that evaluation. The most important thing right now in our mind is his well-being. When it is something like that, it is important—to play this game, there is a little bit of mental toughness involved. I want to make sure, if in fact he is playing again, that he is playing with full confidence that he is healthy to play and that nothing severe would come of him playing. So, that is why he has not been here. We have not been trying to hide him or any of that. It is just that we are trying to get as many people to look at this that have experience with it."What triggered his having to go see these specialists?
"It would be very common if you had a preexisting condition to examine it again and keep track of it. It was through that examination that there were some alerts. If someone has a knee, a shoulder, or a foot (injury), there are certain specialists they go to. It is very common. You might end up in Charlotte if your foot is bothering you to see (Dr. Robert) Anderson. You might end up in Florida if your knee is bothering you to see (Dr. James) Andrews. So, that process began during a pretty exhaustive physical here, and then it has continued. I would say it is still ongoing. There obviously is concern, but there is not a final answer. When there is, I will make sure to pass that along, and I mean that."
How much have you been in touch with him? How is he doing?
"He is fine. At first, (he was) a little surprised. There are two ways to look at it. The potential bad news is that you do not play football again. The potential good news is that you lead a healthy life with the condition that you know you have and treat it accordingly. In the event that there is enough confidence that he can play, then we broach that when the time comes."Were you at all surprised knowing that he has been able to play at Auburn, Detroit, with the Rams, and then last year with you before it all-of-a-sudden pops up?
"I think that, like every one of us, it is not constant. There is ongoing change. So, the one report or examination indicated some change that was concerning. Again, we will keep following up on that, and I think clearly in the next couple of weeks, we should have a little bit more finality."To be clear, he had the physical with the new contract, and then after that, something was flagged that led to more testing?
"Yes. The testing came, and like anything else with something like that, it was one small thing that led to a little bit more. Then we sent him out east for an examination. He's had one in Houston, and I know he had a third now as recently as yesterday or the day before. We've been in touch with him. I think his spirits overall are good. He certainly wants to be out here. I'd say one of the really good traits with him is that he loves being in the locker room, being around the players, and being involved in this process. So, I think that part of it's challenging. Yet, I know both he and his agent want to get resolution and figure out what they're exactly looking at."The team first recommended that he should see a specialist, is that right?
"It started with our recommendation here from our specialist to go ahead and go out east."Did he see a different specialist here, or was it the same one that saw him a year ago?
"It would have been our same team doctors. There were two that we would use in that case. (They are) different from our orthopedic doctor. We would use two other doctors, one being a heart specialist. Then it went to another because we want further testing done."Was it the team-affiliated doctor that had the opinion he should not play?
"No. That was a separate doctor."That was the first specialist?
"That was the first specialist he saw."How challenging has it been talking to the defensive line in the meeting room about how they have to pick up the slack, particularly given Fairley's significant contribution?
"We have not talked specifically. This has been probably three weeks now. I talked to the team. Obviously, we will have to have a plan either way. We are hopeful that the news will be good, and yet we will just rely on the experts right now. Certainly, it is something that we are not as familiar with."How much have you kept up with what is going on in London, and has the league expressed anything to you all about that?
"I certainly am close to the news like you would be. Clearly, it is something that everyone has paid attention to. Any type of event over there, I am sure has to be met and prepared with the utmost security in mind. I know that our security people here have been in touch with the league about the protocol for that week leading up to the game and the game itself. Those are all challenges when you have a big event."
Have you been able to see any growth from Vonn Bell in terms of his communication?
"Absolutely. We rested him for a couple of days. He had aggravated a wrist. He practiced today. I would say that stood out being the second year for him. So far early in this process where you are able to grade the mental, which is really what we received a chance to see a lot of because we are not with shoulder pads. He seems to be more comfortable."
When you look at your former players, a guy like Roman Harper, if he decided to become a coach, how good would he be in your opinion?
"I think he'd be outstanding. I tried to recruit him. The decision some of these guys have is do they want to coach or do they want to go into the media, and I think he would be good at either. It is the same thing with Lance Moore. Lance was in last week, and I spent the better part of three days trying to recruit him. Those guys are smart players, but they also have a lot to give and a lot to offer. So, a lot of it depends on the family travel and what they choose to do career-wise, but I think both of those guys—talking about Roman and Lance—both of them could do either (profession) well. Obviously, it would take work and preparation. It is not something where you just slide on into coaching or just slide on into being behind a microphone. It takes a lot of work."You guys had impressive production from your wide receivers last year, but they were all really young. Now you add Ted Ginn Jr. to the group. How much is he adding a necessary leadership voice?
"I think he brings a presence with him. I think he's played better football in the last five years of his career than the first five. I got a text from Dan Dalrymple, our strength coach during the offseason phase one when these guys were running 200s and he just sent me 'TGIF' on Friday and I'm like 'what is this about' and he said 'Ted Ginn is fast.' I think he can run I think he's competitive and I think there's a presence about him, a toughness about him that I think is good for that room."
We've been able to witness three practices and you're looking at new faces with (Marshon) Lattimore who finally had a pass completed on him. Has he been covering that well or have they not been throwing at him?
"I think he's had some good practices and I'd say there's some other days where he's going to continue to get up to speed. Obviously, when these young corners go into games, regardless of where they're drafted, they're getting thrown at. I think it's been up and down like you'd expect. I think he's in better shape than he was for those rookie camps. Those early picks are on roller coaster tours where they're traveling to all these teams. I don't think his conditioning level was all that great when he came here for the rookie camp, I think it's better now. I think the other rookie corner out of Memphis, Arthur Maulet has done a good job as well. Those guys are all kind of getting rotated in so if you guys saw practice today, you probably saw other players playing spots different than the last time you were here or different than you'll see on Tuesday or Wednesday. It's the time of the year where we just believe we need to rotate a lot of different faces in and get them acclimated with the ones the twos and even the threes."We saw Adrian Peterson at the softball game last night, but he wasn't here today, anything on that?
"Yes, he is fine. The last three days here we backed off his reps. He was in, got his workout in, he is doing fine. It is mainly just paying attention to where he's at physically. Last week he had a good week. You'll see him again Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He's doing well."
He's skipped some OTA's in the past when he was with Minnesota. How glad are you that he's here?
"I like that New Orleans is closer to Houston than Minnesota. The best you can do is try to find a good environment. I think weather draws players to the south by nature during the offseason or west. I think overall, our attendance has been outstanding. When we went back, we were discussing 2006, 2007, and 2008 where at the end of the offseason you give out t-shirts that say 100% attendance and you really can't even do that now because so many players are hitting all those marks. Now obviously it's not as long, but I think it's good when you have a climate and the consistency weather wise that you do here."
You talked rotation with players and two guys from last year's roster, Justin Zimmer and Landon Turner, what have you seen out of them in OTAs?
"They're doing well. The hardest thing to evaluate about the offensive and defensive line is, without pads, is obviously the finish. I think they're further along with what we're doing scheme wise, both of them have picked things up so they're fairly intelligent but, I think for the most part until we get into shoulder pads and we start seeing finish and seeing the things that they have to do on a day to day basis it'll be easier to answer that."
Mark (Ingram) was out here again today, How is he doing and how are you starting to see him and Adrian Peterson together?
"We're rotating a lot of backs through these drills. The practices aren't as long so you've got to be a little bit more efficient. Next week minicamp is a little different but, yeah Mark (Ingram) is doing well and obviously he has experience with what we're doing so it's just getting into playing shape."
Why did you guys make a change at long snapper?
"We felt like (we wanted to) for a couple reasons, from a coverage standpoint and also from a protection standpoint. We pay close attention to and we're going to be working a few different guys out, even in the minicamp we'll have some guys in so by no means are we set on who's going to be our long snapper. (Justin) Drescher did a great job for us and it was one of those positions where we wanted to pay close attention to and we're doing that now. You'll see, we'll have another guy or two in for this minicamp and possibly for training camp."
Do you think in the last three draft classes, other than Michael Thomas, there are a handful of guys who are ready to step up and be really good players?
"Yes. I could begin to identify them, that wouldn't be fair to those I don't call on but, I would absolutely say yes. I would say in this past class, the 2016 or 2017 class if you will, there's going to be guys that I've already seen right now. Just some early stages of it's not going to be because they don't know what to do and I think the key for us is to find out the things that they do extremely well. Backtracking to last years class, you're going to (see) more of Sheldon Rankins because of his health. I think you're going to see more of (David) Onyemata, a guy who's really progressed and with (Daniel) Lasco the key's staying healthy with, obviously, the ability he has in the kicking game. With so many of these players and how they help us in special teams, that is receiver five or that's running back five or the fullback or the fourth tight end. I do think on both sides of the ball, to answer your question, yes."
What stands out to you about the last three weeks, whether it's on the field or off, just anything about this particular group of guys and this team that caught your eye?
"I do not know specifically yet. I said this in the staff meeting; I think we are still learning. We 'e still learning about these players and trying to provide the right environment in regards to learning. Our job is obviously to teach and go through each day, maybe a specific statistic, something from a year ago that we feel like we need to address. I think we'll learn a lot more once we get into training camp and we start getting into more of the football type drills."
Is there an adjustment for you with the new coaches?
"Absolutely, just from a scheduling standpoint (and), an expectation at practice. All of that is different."What would you say some of Mike Nolan's strengths are?
"He is smart. He has been around a long time. He grew up with football. His dad coached the 49ers back when I was six years old living in San Mateo following that team. I can remember every player on that roster. It's funny; we'll have those kinds of conversations. His experience is helpful and will help Dennis (Allen) and us as a staff, whether you're in two-minute and you're having discussions about philosophy. But it's his experience, and I think he's been a good teacher."When you have been a head coach before, in what ways do you think that help guys be good position coaches?
"We all become better teachers with knowledge. We are always trying to learn. I think for him, he has been exposed to an even front, and he has been exposed to a 3-4 front. He has been with some really good defenses. I think when you get someone like that, it can help you."Can you perceive what kind of influence he has had on the linebackers?
"It'd be hard. He's hit the ground running like a lot of coaches that are coming someplace new. The first thing is getting to know these players—their strengths, their weaknesses. This is the offseason where you are learning a lot about them. And then, you are really trying to provide a foundation for what we are going to do. I think he is a really good teacher; that is one of the first things we looked for in the communication during the interview process."Travin Dural had a really rough injury a few years ago at LSU. Do you feel he is coming back from that?
"I don't think with Dural—I feel like he's close to 100%. I have not seen signs of the injury that he had. I think he is moving around pretty well. He's had some pretty good practices. The key for him is just his strength, his overall conditioning, lower body strength, and the speed of the game. But I think he's transitioned into this OTA or minicamp phase coming up pretty smoothly."
Can he contribute on special teams? "We will see. Hopefully he can."