New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, October 11, 2013
Opening Statement:"I mentioned yesterday our schedule will have us leaving early this evening. We finished up kind of our final day, if you will, of red zone situations."
Will you be able to do a normal walkthrough up there?
"Yeah, we will sort through where. It is obviously close. Typically it is getting them out and moving guys around after the flight."
How is Jonathan Vilma health wise?
"He is progressing. We kind of look at it day-to-day, but that Monday coming back would be a potential day we would look at. I am optimistic he is going to be able to. It is kind of a bonus day for us. The first full day where you guys will be back will be on that Wednesday. Any time you have that extra day, we typically try to get in a bonus day on Monday. Tuesday the players will be off and then we would start up on that Wednesday. I am optimistic that he will get some work on that Monday."
Are you hoping to see something in those two weeks where you think he will be ready?
"He's been doing well, yeah, so we will see. But he has been doing well with his progress."
Where do you anticipate Vilma will fit in?
"We would wait and see."
You have six or seven frontline guys that are out for the season, what do you attribute the success for the defense?
"It is probably a combination of a couple of things. Losing a guy like Will Smith for instance, or Jon (Vilma), those are some veteran players, Patrick (Robinson) certainly was playing in our nickel packages. I think we've done a good job with the current players of putting them in certain situations that we feel confident in and they are comfortable with. I think some of the new players that weren't here a year ago have helped. I think it is probably a combination of all those things. I think, so far, the scoring element of defense we have been really good with. I think overall as a team we are playing a more complimentary game and I think that has helped. We just have to continue to do that."
Did you see that you had guys like Akiem Hicks and Junior Galette that were ready to take the next step?
"We felt like we have good personnel. It is never perfect. There are always things you are looking for, you deal with injuries just like New England is having to deal with them. We've had to deal with them both offensively and defensively. It is kind of the nature of our game. You hope you are fortunate enough where you don't experience a lot of them and you try to prepare each week with the healthy guys that you have and that is the approach we have taken."
Has it been tough this week since you don't know if Rob Gronkowski is going to play?
"I mentioned that already once during the week. You'd prepare like he was playing and particularly we would have scout players in jerseys. You prepare for what they do and what they have done, and you understand a player of his caliber is important to know where he is at on the field with each play. And then if in the event that he is not, you continue with your play. It is not like you have two entirely different game plans. You are mindful and you understand the significance of each play."
Can you talk about how you said Rob Ninkovich is a draft pick that got away?
"One of the things that keeps you up at night during training camp is making the proper decisions and not allowing a good player to leave the building. We have been fortunate now in year eight that we are not talking about a litany of players, but he is a good example of someone that we drafted and yet I don't know if we had a real good vision of what we wanted to do with him and then it only gets worse because he's back in the building a few years later and we have a second go at it and we don't capitalize on that. First off, he's an extremely motivated player, hardworking, smart, he has all of those qualities that we look for and those are the types of things that keep you up at night as a coach is having a good football player like that right under your wing twice and not being able to take advantage of it. I had him the second time up in my office talking about possibly being a long snapper so it tells you how much I know."
Do you remember the ones you lost or missed more than the ones you got?
"Listen, the ones that you miss, and there are not a lot, but a guy like Rob (Ninkovich) haunts you. It doesn't haunt you, but gosh dang it. It is hard to find guys with good motors that play the game the way he does. He rushes the passer well. He is always in the right spot. That is just one, especially since you drafted him."
Can you talk about how you didn't strike out on the 2006 draft class?
"It was an important class for us as we began to put together a program. Within the framework of that class came Jeff Faine and Hollis Thomas with trades. At the very beginning of the second day, where we are getting ready to draft Owen Daniels with the second pick, I believe it was round four, they used to go three rounds then take a break and the next day start round four, he is going to be the selection and I am on the phone with him and Houston calls and takes him with the only pick that was before us, so fortunately we were able to back down a trade with Philadelphia and we end up drafting Jahri Evans. Things like that happen, you hope you are fortunate, but that was an important draft class."