New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Thursday, August 3, 2017
"Today was our first red zone installation. I thought that overall, it was pretty good. I thought we had good energy coming back indoors. There will be a lot that we can coach off of on today's tape."
In what ways have you seen growth from Tommylee Lewis this year?
"The number one way would be his greater familiarity with the system we run. I think one of the things that happen with first-year players is that they have to figure out what to do. So, from an assignment standpoint, you're able to play quicker if you know your assignment. You are not having to think as you go to the line of scrimmage."
It is hard not to notice how vocal the defense has been. Was that something that came from the staff?
"It is hard to play this game without the right enthusiasm and temperament. Even over the course of a game, there are momentum swings that you have to be able to respond to. I think part of it is attitude, getting onto the next play, controlling what you can control once a play's taken place, and making the corrections. I thought the energy was good. We have had some good, competitive practices."
You have been really committed to leaving Andrus Peat at left guard. How has he played there?
"He's improving as a young player, yet I think on the left side—whether it's at left guard or if he has to go play left tackle—there's a little higher of a comfort level with him. So far, we have been able to keep him there. With each practice, you hope that he makes the same improvement and has the consistency you are looking for. There are things that we are working on with his hands and his leverage. I think that has benefited him, along with the experience he had last year and how he played and now this camp."
What are you seeing from the two long snappers?
"Both of them are having up and down camps. They'll have a day when they look good and sometimes a day where they look poor. From a consistency standpoint, I'm sure those two are competing. We were a little low today on a handful of the snaps. The other day, I felt we were a bit inconsistent. You would like to see a little bit greater location consistency for your punter. It matters more on the punt long snaps than on the field goal or extra point snaps. They are not just competing against each other; they are competing against any other long snapper that becomes available. We still have work to do there."
There are only so many ways you can run a slant route, but it seems like Michael Thomas is about as good as it gets on that play. What are your thoughts?
"There are a handful of techniques. You have to deal with a lot of press-man (coverage). I'd not say always, but generally, the bigger receivers might have a target advantage. He's someone who I think is fairly physical at the line of scrimmage. He gives you some runs after the catch. It's part of what we do depending on what kind of coverages we get, but he does play with pretty good technique and leverage with his size. He is willing to go in there. He has strong hands in traffic."
You are practicing at Tulane on Sunday. What do you like about that venue?
"I like the changeup of a night practice. It changes the routine during the day; they are off their feet. Periodically, that kind of change is good for the tempo of your practice, much like coming into the indoor facility today was. I think that it also gives us a chance to practice somewhere off campus and bring our team to a different area. I know it is a lot more fan-friendly because the seating arrangement is better. Number one: you are not limited to 1,500 people. You can have as many people as you would like. I think it is better for the fans. The last time we did it was really good. I think it will be good for our fans, especially."
Alvin Kamara struggled in punt returns today, dropping a few. Is he going to be in that competition going forward?
"Yes, absolutely he will be. The challenge about being inside is that you have these controlled punts. He still has to work on his technique. He definitely is going to be someone we develop. Thomas Morstead cannot quite get a full kick inside because it will hit one of the beams. We will keep working with him."
What have you thought of Josh LeRibeus*?*
"He is doing well. He is smart. He is sharp. I think the one thing he has to continue to work on, though, is the consistency of his shotgun snaps. They are still coming out high. We have to get it corrected. There is a certain amount of time—three days, four days—and I told him today, 'Today is the day where it is an epidemic.' I think in general that has been an area that we have to improve in. He has some power, a little bit more than we had anticipated when we signed him. He can come in quickly and be on the same page with our protections. He has been a good addition."
Does that word 'epidemic' apply to the center group as a whole?
"No. It applies to our shotgun snaps."
Is he a guy who, when Max Unger returns, could be the first-alternate at both guard positions?
"He has flexibility. I think he has helped himself while he has been here. We noticed it during minicamp; this guy is really smart. I think he plays with a good pad level. I think he is strong."
What are your impressions of Ted Ginn Jr.?
"Obviously, he's a veteran. He's been a productive player. The key, always, is how you want to use him. We have seen enough of him already, just having been in his division. I think he is running well. He is healthy. He made a couple of good plays today, so we are excited to have him."
How about Zach Line*? Did he have a couple of his better runs today?*
"There is a rotation in camp when you have 90 players. You have a large group of running backs. The reps he is taking, though, have been impressive. Today was a pretty physical day. We did not tackle to the ground, but there certainly is a temperament to his style. You feel it."
How do the all-purpose skills that Mark Ingram shows now compare to what you thought he had when you drafted him?
"His running skillset's every bit as good as we wanted. Clearly, he's developed as a receiver. His ability to get out on choice routes or stretch the coverage with a wide route (has improved). I think he understands protections really well. That has helped him become more of a complete player."
Coby Fleener*'s been gone for two days. Is there anything you can say about that?*
What have you seen from the linebackers? It seems like they played a lot faster today at practice.
"We'll look at the tape, and there'll be some plays that we don't like depending on which side of the ball you're on. Yet, I thought we moved around pretty well today. It was pretty crisp. Once we have a chance to watch it, we will see the plus plays and the plays on which too much was given, whether it was a run or a pass. Overall, I was pleased with the energy."
What are your thoughts on Cameron Jordan? It seems like he has become a vocal leader and might also be ready to take his game to the next level.
"We're counting on that. He is a veteran player and one of our better defensive players, both against the run and the pass. I think, clearly, he's a smart guy. He understands the scheme we play defensively. I think he's not just a one-trick pony pass rusher. He plays the run really well. With regards to his leadership, that's something we've talked about. All of those guys on defense eventually are going to follow a few guys. There is no one that we appoint as leader. Part of it is how you play, but part of it is your nature. That is something that will be important for this team, not just on defense, but particularly as we grow over there."
They unveiled the Tom Benson statue at the Pro Football Hall of Fame during practice. What are your thoughts?
"It is outstanding, and I wish I could be there with them. I am proud of them and all that Mr. Benson has done. I think it is a great honor. When you look at the upgrades (to the stadium)—I have only seen the pictures that you have seen on the internet—that is significant. To be a part of that, and to make a contribution as significant as he did to better the Hall of Fame, is well deserved. The ceremony that they are having today is something that I am sure not only he and the team but also everyone else can be proud of. It is great for the league."
How is Hau'oli Kikaha moving?
"Well. I think you are seeing him knock off a bit of the rust. He is feeling healthy. He is receiving the treatment. You are starting to see some of his edge speed."
We asked Mickey Loomis about how much you're counting on him leading into the draft and free agency. How much of a boon would it be to get production from him?
"I say this whether we are talking about Hau'oli, Obum (Gwacham), the two younger players we drafted, or (Alex) Okafor—it is an area that has to get better. I think it will. So, how many snaps and where guys play in that pass rush is still to be determined. It is good to see him moving in a healthy way and getting on an edge. He had a couple of run snaps the other day that were pretty good."
What kind of influence do you expect Curtis Johnson's return to have on both young players like Michael Thomas and veterans like Ted Ginn Jr.?
"I think it will be significant. There is a presence about Curtis. He is a tremendous staff guy. I think he is a very good on-the-field coach as far as working with those guys. There is just a presence about him. He is an equal-opportunity pain in the rear sometimes but in a good way. I think they will all benefit from it."