New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton 2017 Training Camp Presented by Verizon Saturday, August 12, 2017
"Let me just hit a few of the transactions that took place today. We signed the following five players: TE Braeden Bowman, CB Malik Foreman, DT John Hughes, DE Jason Jones, and WR Xavier Rush. We waived Dejaun Butler, Rashad Lawrence, Patrick Murray, and Robenson Therezie. We put Devaroe Lawrence on our waived/NFI list so it keeps us at our 91 (including Alex Jenkins)."
A couple of veteran and experienced defensive linemen in there. What were you looking for?
"Periodically we'll bring in a large group of players to work out. We're early enough in camp to see that these guys have done some good things on film and they had good grades on them. We wanted to look at them. It wasn't one thing, but overall, we thought that the workouts were good and it's early enough in camp where we have a chance to evaluate them."
How do you balance out practice vs. game film where you might see a nice play out here, but it's called as illegal contact during the game?
"You start with the idea that they are playing the technique and contesting throws. It's a lot more concerning if those plays are not showing up at all on practice film. Like many of the teams, you begin to see the way the game is being called, and sometimes, that's the cost of doing business. I liked our aggressiveness the other night. I thought we competed out there and I thought we contested a lot of throws."
How valuable is a guy like Senio Kelemete, where you can almost plug him in anywhere along the offensive line?
He's played a lot of spots for us. He's smart and knows what to do. He's getting a little healthier now. Obviously, the versatility's the key for him. When you get to gameday and you go to seven offensive linemen, you are looking at two players that are not in the starting group. You need to have some swing flexibility within your backups. I think that's helped him a lot."
Did you get an endorsement from Curtis Johnson for Xavier Rush?
"We worked him out about a week and a half ago. We were kind of impressed with the workout, and yet there's a handful of guys on our board right now and gold magnets that we're considering bringing to camp. He was one of those players."
Is Al-Quadin Muhammad progressing like you would like?
"I think so. He's going to receive a lot of work in the next couple weeks. He plays with a little bit more power than edge, but he is picking things up. A lot is going on. The first challenge to ability is availability. He's grinding through it and working through the mistakes, but he is doing well and handling it."
Did he come in here kind of raw just given his past?
"I don't know that raw would be the term. He played at a very good high school program in Don Bosco Prep and then a very good college program at Miami. He just missed the last year, but there is an element that you need to have to get him going again."
Cam Jordan is a known commodity after all these years, but is there anything that stands out about his growth or development?
"I think I've seen it more from a leadership prospective. This is a young team and you look around at guys like Cam and Mark Ingram that came in together in the same draft six years ago so you see it that way. He's always someone that's trained and conditioned well, and can play a lot of snaps. He's a key and important piece for what we're trying to do defensively."
His strength seems to be his versatility. How often do you game plan or face a guy that fits that job description where he does a little bit of everything as a defensive end?
"He plays the run and the pass very well. We'll see teams where there is more of a rusher instead of a run defender (among defensive ends). It's a strength of his and the other strength I would say is the ability to play 55 or 60 snaps at the same energy level. He has always been good with his stamina."
How hard is it to evaluate the coverage units when a kickoff goes out of the end zone or a punt does not allow a return? I noticed that Rafael Bush made some tackles, but it seems difficult to get a full analysis.
"There were about four snaps the other night where they were short on punts that we could not field. It forced us to cover the 'Peter' calls, so that the ball did not roll up the back of one of our guys. The returner has to be better at communicating that. There was one kickoff that went out the back of the end zone. You hope in the preseason to have 10 or 11 coverage snaps, either punts or kickoffs that can help you. It was cut in half a bit the other night. Hopefully, over this next week and in the game against Los Angeles, we will receive those opportunities."
Looking at Rafael Bush, he seems like he has been a "pro's pro" since OTAs. Thoughts?
"He is smart. He has played a lot of snaps. He has good instincts and awareness. I think he is a physical player. That is important. You know exactly what you are going to get. That is a good trait."
How does it help to have the receivers hold the ball throughout practice?
"For anybody who is carrying the ball—runners, receivers, tight ends—there is a proper way to do it. Teams have become too good at taking the ball away. You have to address that. It has to become habit, not just something worked on in a five-minute period. It is a big point of emphasis with regards to ball security."
What have you seen from Tommylee Lewis this preseason compared to his rookie year? He seems poised.
"A year ago, there were some assignments he was struggling with—where to align, formations, getting the play. If you break the huddle as a receiver, and you come out with a little bit of trepidation as to where you align, you are not able to play and execute. He did some good things a year ago. I think he is that much more familiar now with what we are doing, so it allows you to get a better evaluation. It allows your performance to be better."
When guys go against each other in practice, the players on offense and defense can pick up each other's tendencies. How do you evaluate a win in a practice versus a win in a preseason game?
"That is a good question. We try to simulate (game situations) during these competitive drills. Drew Brees knows it. He is signaling his two-minute calls, and he is protecting the call because he knows our defense. He is not naïve enough to think that Carolina and Atlanta and Tampa Bay have the same signals. Depending on the drill—for instance, the goal line drill was not live, since we are just two days removed from a game. We will have a live goal line drill at some point. That is more about teaching. Then, there are some other drills that are competitive. Those are valuable snaps."
Is that another benefit to having the joint practices that are coming up?
"A couple of things take place. You get personnel that are different. They're in the AFC. You get (to face) a scheme that is different, what they play defensively and what they like to do offensively. It's obviously an alert for everyone because you receive different looks (from a different team in practice). You are not getting similar looks to what you have gotten for a few weeks. Anthony Lynn and I coached together in Dallas. I have a good relationship with him, Gus Bradley, Ken Whisenhunt, and that staff. I think we will have a good week of work out there, and I think it will be good for both teams."
With regard to the transactions, how do you want the younger, less established guys at a certain position group to take it at this point in camp when you bring in some veterans?
"The focus needs to be on how they can perform that day. We talk all the time about trying to figure out your position group and starting to count off numbers. There are 31 other teams that we are evaluating. You cannot control any of that. So, their focus has to be on their performance each day."
Check out the action from Day 13 of Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon.