New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, October 26, 2017
What have you seen out of Alex Okafor so far?
"He's one of those players that I think gives you some versatility. He's been a guy that we've rushed outside (and), we've rushed inside. He played one of his better games last week. I think (his) versatility and (ability) playing the run and playing the pass, he's not just a sub rusher, he is a base defensive end. He's smart and instinctive."
How important is it to have Max (Unger) as the only lineman to stay in one positon along the offensive line this season?
"I think it's significant, especially considering some of the time he missed during the rehab, but the communication and all the nuances that are involved in your protections (and) your run calls (are important). Clearly he's one of the leaders in there and he's done an outstanding job for us, a captain, a guy that I think is an extremely important piece of what we do offensively."
Why do you think Brandon Coleman has been a more consistent red zone threat this season?
"He's has the features you look for. He's big (and) he has strong hands. Overall, I just thought this offseason, if you were looking at growth in players, he improved. We all saw it and with that came the confidence. He's a guy that I know the quarterback has a lot of confidence in, where he's going to be and how to locate the ball to him, knowing that there is a large catch radius with him."
Is Michael Thomas' injury significant?
What do you like about Cameron Tom?
"He had a good preseason for us. We think he's strong, we think he's a guy that we have a vision (for), we think he can transition into a guy playing inside. He has pretty good feet and I felt like his training camp as a young player was solid. It's not unusual for teams to have an interest in possibly signing one of your players, he is a guy that we wanted to protect and not allow that to happen and I won't mention any teams, but that's part of the deal and we didn't want to lose a young, developmental player like him."
When you're this deep in the game prep, what kind of challenge does it present your staff when the Bears trade for Dontrelle Inman?
"I asked that question last night, we were just going through the trade and I think it happened yesterday, most likely he flew (to Chicago) yesterday and today will be his first practice. I'm sure there where be a portion or small package of things that he'll do. Our pro department would give us the information on the player and we would be just alert as to where we might think he'd be used. Is he more of a slot receiver or an outside guy? But nonetheless you pay attention to it."
How much does it help that you got to practice against WR Dontrelle Inman over the summer?
"I think that'd be a little overrated. But clearly, you have a feel for who he is in regards to, forget just the game tape you can put on for those three days and begin to identify some of the things he does in one-on-one periods. That element would be helpful."
How well has A.J. Klein been diagnosing plays?
"I think it's a strength of his. I think he's one of those guys that you watch a lot of film on. We talk about this all the time defensively, if you are trying to defend every play on each snap, then you are at a big disadvantage. You have to be able to eliminate two back, one backs, strong set, weak set, shotgun under center (certain possibilities on a play). There are about five or six things that have to be deducted I think, or at least understood to arrive at its one of four instead of its one of 24 (possibilities). I think, he is one of those guys that does that or processes that pretty quickly."
How important is that aspect of the defense?
"I think that is important. We are getting ready to put in Jonathan Vilma in the Saints Hall of Fame this weekend. That was the player who would call out the play 85% - 90% of the time. Not deducted down to four, he would deduct it down to one. I think A.J. (Klein) is one of those players that studies and is very diligent and understands backsets and formations. One of the key allies I would say to defense is formation and play recognition. In other words, they're in this and then they do this and this. If you are approaching it and on each snap they can run anything, then you probably are not going to have much success if you are defending all of it."
Are you looking forward to the Saints Hall of Fame this weekend because of the two players that contributed to the Super Bowl?
"A lot. Carl (Nicks), who I can remember like it was yesterday the day drafting him in the fifth round. Getting on the phone and actually speaking with his girlfriend and making sure she was going to keep in line and making sure he was going to be ready for the work. He came in here and busted his tail and was fantastic. A very powerful and explosive player. He was extremely explosive and athletic. He played left guard and I think he was a very good teammate. Then Jonathan Vilma, his trade, and I remember having dinner with him at the combine. Mickey (Loomis) and I went out and weighed the options on his injury and the doctors did a great job with the surgery. All of these, it's like breaking down a team like that in its individual parts and how it all arrived together is fascinating. I am thrilled for those guys and I think they will be getting in later today and we will have a chance to see them tomorrow at practice."