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Quotes from Sean Payton's conference call - November 8, 2018

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, November 8, 2018

What is behind adding Dez Bryant to the roster?
“He's someone I (have) visited with now for a stretch of time. Prior to the draft, we had a couple conversations. We weren’t going to do anything in the event we drafted a receiver and we did (Tre’Quan Smith) and so once that happened, we kind of slowed things up. We felt it was in our best interest this past week, to bring in a few receivers to work out. Cam Meredith today at some point is going to go to reserve/injured. He needs to have one additional scope to his knee. He was battling the swelling. So we felt that it was wise for us right now to take a look at a few of these players, (the guys (at the workout) did well. We signed Dez and we're getting them ready to go.”

For Meredith is it the same knee that he injured last year?
“Yes, but I'm not going to get into the details, but it's not bad news. He's going to have a full recovery. It's a scope that he's having some cleanup work done. He kept having the swelling week in and week out and he really was pushing through it. Within the next few days I think we'll have that done.”

Is he a candidate to return this year?
“They all are, (but) I don't know that in his case there'll be enough time.”

How does Dez Bryant look physically?
“His workout went well. He's a little heavy and that’s pretty common. I think probably five pounds (heavier) without having gone through a training camp and we felt like he did a number of things that we liked in the workout. We’ll begin that process today.”

What do the next couple of days look like for him in terms of integrating him into the team?
“We'll see how today goes, we'll take it one day at a time and see how much he can digest and give him parts to the plan. There's a third down element and a red zone element, a lot of different things that we think he provides versatility for.”

Did he wow you on the workout as opposed to the other wide receivers that it was reported worked out for the team?
“We have film study on all these players. We go in trying to keep an open mind and take a peek at what we see in the workout and then make a decision based on all those factors.”

What was your conversation like with Dez in terms of this being his first time with a different team from the Cowboys and his first day of school so to say?
“One of the things while he was here on the workout was, (we told him) we think that we have a special culture here and one in which you'll appreciate. We think we have a system in place and we'll work our tails off to to make it work in our place. You're going to find that the players around you are guys that will help support you and so you get past that. Certainly it happens in this league. Here he comes in, he's never tried out before (a workout), but I think once he got past that and went through the workout (it went well). He's in meetings now. I think that can be like that for all of us really. Regardless, a new job somewhere a move to a new city, a new team. We're all kind of to some degree creatures of habit and routine and when that's broken that unsettles you for a little bit and then you grow a little bit when that happens.”

Can he play on the inside, outside or both, given that he has spent the majority of his career on the outside?
“Alright, so we’re going to do this, each of you has two Dez (question) coupons. Trip (Mike Triplett), you’re using your second one right now with that question. You know in our system that we’ll play guys outside. We'll play guys inside. Mike Thomas is an X. He's outside split end and then he will play in the slot and we will move guys around. The key is what they're doing and what we're asking them to do. You've seen that I think with him (primarily being on the outside in Dallas). We're not going to move him all over the formation in the first three weeks, four weeks he's here. We'll build on that much like we've done with any player.”

We asked the same questions with Eli Apple and then saw that he played right after the trade. Do you have any sense on how long it would take for him to learn the playbook and if he could play Sunday?
“We'll see. (It’ll) Be hard for me to comment not having had a practice yet (with him). But we'll take a peek and see how he does today and tomorrow and then we will fill you in Sunday.”

Are there similarities between Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald?
“Non-Dez (question) noted (laughter). Yes, I think they provide similar challenges and I'm not making the comparison between the two players, but they get tremendous push. They're active. They can get on the edge of a guard and watching the third down tape last night, you see disruption inside or inside push which is problematic for anybody relative to throwing the ball from the pocket. He's done it a long time. He's been very consistent and it's impressive when you watch him.”

What did Demario Davis show you would be a fit when you looked at signing him this offseason?
“You saw a physical tackler. We saw leadership in him. We felt he had position flexibility between WILL and MIKE. We felt there was a little bit more size with him, weight if you will and I think it was the combination of those two or three things. I think he's pretty good in man coverage. I think in zone, we're still working in some areas, but he's a tremendous teammate and a very important part of our team.”

Would you like to see Michael Thomas scale down some of the things that he does with things like the cell phone celebration and wearing a ski mask?
“I like what he is doing right now. Obviously, any of the other stuff, Mike and I would talk about. I haven't seen the ski mask yet.”

I’m referring to when he ran out of the tunnel with a ski mask on at the Washington game?
“(I) Got you. Yes. In 2009, it was Reggie Bush carrying a bat. I’ve seen the flowers with Pierre (Thomas) and Lance (Moore) with the Christmas tree shoes and socks. He is playing at a crazy elite level and each week it gets tough because of the coverages (that) he sees. He draws the best corners. He's a very passionate player. You certainly don't want 15-yard penalties and he understands that. So we'll leave it at that.”

Does Dez Bryant have the ability to take some pressure and coverage off of Michael Thomas?
“It works together. If the safeties are lean to Mike (Thomas), then there's going to be some opportunities for guys like Tre’quan (Smith). We have seen that now in the last three or four weeks. Tight ends (it helps). It's just a matter of whether the lean’s going. The other day, the double came down on (Alvin) Kamara and Mike was left (open). Drew found him on that touchdown pass, the long one. So it's just an option opposite of where you might line up Mike Thomas or opposite of where Kamara might be and it's someone that you know can give you tough contested catches if you feel like that there is more tension to Mike’s side. I think it can be. Tre’quan is starting to see some of the benefits of that.”

How has Tommylee Lewis been looking in practice?
“He's doing well. He is moving around well. His first game of eligibility would be Atlanta. I would say he's close to 100 percent and he’s practicing.”

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