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Quotes from Sean Payton's conference call - September 20, 2018

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Thursday, September 20, 2018

With Tommylee (Lewis) going on Injured Reserve, what are your options at punt returner with the existing roster?
“Ted Ginn (Jr.) has done it, Alvin Kamara has done it, Austin Carr has done it. Those guys have all taken snaps at it. We'll look at the type of returns we want to run and then have a plan accordingly. Those guys that I mentioned, they've caught punts throughout camp and are comfortable doing it.”  

When you see the Falcons and one of the team leaders in sacks is a defensive back what does that tell you about what they're doing defensively?
“I would say after week two, I think (Brian) Poole is a smart player, he's savvy. Most teams in their nickel package at some point will bring the nickel because he's closest (Closer to the line of scrimmage than other defensive backs). It's essentially a smaller linebacker if you will. I think he's an extremely smart player, good tackler, he has good instincts, he can hide and disguise it. I also think it's after week two and it's a little unusual statistically relative to the position. He's certainly a guy they feel comfortable pressuring. We see basically two and a half years’ worth of defensive pressures. I think that it's part of their pressure package, but he's a good football player.”  

The division is off to another really good start. It looks like it’s going to be another really wild division race. Do you think there is any correlation between the stability and the football ops of all four teams and the quarterback position to why you're all having so much success in the division?
“That’s a good question. I would say this; I think history would tell us divisions kind of trend in directions. That has a lot to do with really a number of things. The organization, do they have a quarterback, how have they done with their acquisition of personnel. I mean those three things factor in and I think that you're getting strong quarterback play and you have for a little bit here in our division. When you look at the four quarterbacks, obviously the unique situation this year in Tampa is they're getting real good quarterback play and it just so happens that they're playing with Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick). I think the division is strong that way. I think the division, personnel wise, has improved defensively and that can trend. It's probably a combination of all those things.”

Is there any defining characteristic of your division at all?
“I would say this; I think there's some big receivers in this division, that stands out. I think there’s some good defense played in this division. I think that there has been some continuity relative to the staffs in our league (and their) continuity. If you took a chart and just charted tenure, and forget the long end or a coach has been there a while, but the fact of the matter is Ron's (Rivera) been at Carolina (for eight years), Dan’s (Quinn) has his program started, now Dirk (Koetter) in Tampa Bay (is in place). You’re not dealing with (a) first-year or second-year coach. The teams have had some success. It is a good question. I don’t know that I could point to one thing. I think it’s a physical division. I think there were times where you would point to an AFC or even the old NFC East and even you got structurally maybe was more of a 3-4 front. I think that can vary a little bit. All for the teams are in a similar front (4-3) if you will, with Atlanta being a little bit more over under base, but those would be the things that would come to mind. I think overall it’s had good quarterback play, the skill players in this division are exceptional.” 

We know during training camp you were a little concerned about finding the right guys to handle the kickoff and punt return game. Is that still a concern now that Tommylee Lewis is out?
“I think the punt return element – now we're playing a punter (Matt Bosher) this week who led the league in hang time last year. So, he can be a challenge relative to just getting returns instead of fair catches. But that being said though, it's still something, it's still a work in progress. I know I’m comfortable with Alvin (Kamara) back there. Ted Ginn is someone who's done it and we just got to get that gas can in his locker and get him going. I think he's someone who can give you some juice in that area. Then pay attention to the other guys we are working with and then other guys that are outside the building.”

We know that Devonta Freeman is banged up, but what does Tevin Coleman give to that offense?
“He is a fast, slashing type runner with real good straight line speed. They do a great job of aggressively denting the defense with one cut. They run that wide zone play well. It suits his skillset and then he can get the play outside and circle the defense. He has tremendous speed and athleticism.”

Does Coleman change their offense at all when they don’t have Freeman in there?
“Yes. There's an element that's a little different. And I'm sure that that probably exists to some degree with us without Mark (Ingram). There's certain things – Devonta’s not only a handful in the running game, but a handful in the passing game relative to out of the backfield, getting matched up on a linebacker, safety. It's a real good duo of running backs and you always want your starters in.” 

Have you seen any difference in the Falcons’ offense this year through two games?
“I think this past week you saw them get on schedule with what they like to do. They had some big plays off the play action. Their third down numbers were good. Their run numbers were good. They played some good defenses in the first two weeks when you look at Philadelphia and Carolina. They do a great job of giving you similar looks but plays that are a little different and make it hard to defend.”

Now that you have Marshon Lattimore on your team, how does the matchup with Julio Jones change?
“It's all part of the equation. The matchup on Julio Jones to begin with is challenging and difficult because of the size, speed and ability to get down the field. He presents a lot of challenges, so I think part of it is the ability to affect the quarterback as well. In other words, he's a tough matchup, but the clock in the head that the passer has is going to be important in the game.”

Is Teddy Bridgewater up to snuff enough to be your backup if something happened on Sunday?
“Yes. Absolutely.”

How is Bridgewater just picking up the offense and getting acclimated so far?
“He’s doing well. We’re pleased. He's he was our backup Week One. He is a quick study. The room is doing well. But I think right away you could tell that he got comfortable with what we're calling things, protections and so he's doing well.”

How would you evaluate Ken Crawley through two weeks? Does he need to improve his technique?
“Yeah. There's been some big plays and it all kind of goes together. You want your hurries, and your sack numbers, and your quarterback pressures to go up. When you do that, you're going to like how the corners play. The quarterback’s able to come back and take two or three hitches, it’s going to be hard to cover some of those things. But yes, I think he wants to improve and feels like he can play better. But I think collectively, I think the group needs to and I think you'll see the numbers for the corner (position) improve.”

How is Cameron Meredith doing? Any update on him?
“He's doing well. He's healthy. And this will be a week we'll look to see how he progresses and see if we can get him into this plan.”

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