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Quotes from Sean Payton's Final Minicamp press conference

Coach Payton met with media after the final day of Saints Minicamp presented by Verizon on Thursday, June 16

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Minicamp Media Availability Transcript
Thursday, June 16, 2016

Opening Statement:

"We're basically finishing up the offseason program. It was a little bit reduced today and yet we still got some things we wanted to get done. These guys will be back, there's three different elements to these guys coming back. The rookies will come back a little earlier, injured players will come back the weekend prior to training camp and then the rest of the team will report back. Wednesday becomes reporting day for training camp and Thursday is our first practice day."

What's the message you send them off with?

"The first message, I think we're coming off a really good offseason, it's just being smart during this down time. Each day we've got a p.m. meeting. One day it's media training, the next day it's league security. The month of July is always a challenging month with regards to making sure guys stay out of trouble and stay healthy so I think more towards that. Being smart with the decisions that we all make here and getting ready to build on what we started.

How important is this for the rookies to figure out what it is they need to do be competitive in training camp?

"I think it's very important. It's a crash course really for any young player who is coming in. There's a lot of elements, they're learning the city, the playbook, the defense, the offense, the way we practice, but I think this group has been pretty good, I think they've been really good with regards to their work ethic and they understand that they're trying to catch up quickly."

Does this time of the year ever concern you?

"Absolutely, we'll have a team meeting now. We'll just talk about being smart here, we'll give them the calendar, conditioning test, their assigned weight, a number of things we will discuss. Just making sure these next four or five weeks we're making good decisions. We're staying in shape, when you work really hard like this, it's important that you continue a routine and you have a plan today for how the next four or five weeks are gonna go and that, all of a sudden, you don't go two weeks without having done anything. I think they get that but, we'll cover that in the meeting."

Can you talk about how you guys used to do things in some of the early years of your tenure in terms of making progress in the offseason? Obviously that's not an overnight thing process but, how far along do you feel like you are there? Have you taken some really steps big steps this year?

"From a locker room standpoint, it's been really good. These guys have all been really tuned in to what we're doing. I think our attendance this offseason was 100 percent, I don't know that we even had a miss. Obviously, it's a reduced offseason relative to 10 years ago and yet they've been doing everything we've asked of them. Kind of building on this and getting ready for a tough training camp will be the message."

The players said they detected something special yesterday. Do you sense that as well?

"Yes. When you talk to the strength coaches, position coaches and some of these guys that have been here, you receive a feel for the work ethic, goals, how they see themselves and their aspirations. Our job now as coaches is to detail the specifics here as we get into camp and prepare them for what always is a tough long schedule but I like the makeup right now. It has been positive."

How well do you think Drew (Brees) relates to the younger receivers maybe off the field considering there's quite a generation gap and Drew (Brees) kind of has to stay young?

"I think he does. I think the only moment when you see a gap is when that music is playing and he doesn't know any of the words and every one of his receivers knows every word. Outside of that I think he does a good job."

Looking at the OTAs and minicamps we've witnessed, last year with Benjamin Watson making a number of plays, it seems like Josh Hill, based off the practice we witnessed, has really stepped up and made plays.

"He's made a few. He had a good play in the red zone today, yesterday he made a couple. He's smart, athletic (and) fast. I just feel that position is important and we've made a concerted effort to keep our numbers high there. At some point, one or two of those guys can move kind of into the F position and then when you take a guy like Josh (Hill) that plays in the kicking game the way he does then you have a valuable asset."

Looking at the bootleg play, obviously every team runs that, but it seems like it puts a lot of pressure on the linebackers and seems like it's one of the most difficult plays to cover. (Is that true?)

"Sometimes, based on the scheme, it falls on the end to contain. Sometimes it falls on a force player outside. I think the key's within the framework of the play, the timing of a route, and where you're going with the football. I think, certainly, the defense would concede a quarterback keeping (the ball) for two yards. I think you need to have some complements off of your zone scheme or, for that matter, any running scheme as best we can, and a play action that marries to it. I think the quarterbacks we have can go right and left. I'm always a little cautious going left—not because of the athletic part of the throw, but when you go left and throw, you're exposed a bit more with your throwing shoulder to a contact point. But no, we're going to play in a division where we see Cam (Newton), who is going to come off of plays and try to break contain. We are going to play in a division where pretty much each week when you line up there is a quarterback that can beat you with the type of movements of a play like that."

Are you concerned about your kickers?

"No, I am not. I feel as good about the two kickers we have right now than we have ever had. In fact, we were talking—that back left corner of the uprights, if you've ever looked at it, they're tilted in. We were talking about the wind and that type of kick, and back there it's like kicking on a ridge. If it's too far right, it stays right. But both of those guys have been really good."

You are confident that one of those guys will be (the kicker)?


For a couple of tryout players , is that just working them out to see maybe who comes to training camp?

"Yes. There are a handful of these guys that you'll remember were here for the rookie camp, and we didn't have a spot for them. But I promised them an opportunity to come back in a tryout form for this camp. One was a long snapper; we brought a punter in. We'll make some decisions. Obviously, we're at 90 players, so we have to be at that number."

Do you expect to stay at three quarterbacks going into training camp?

"Right now, the plan's to be at three. Yet, we were just in a meeting last night discussing a fourth. Don't ask me who (the fourth) is because we didn't come to a conclusion, but we were discussing the possibility of having a fourth quarterback."

What is the discussion?

"There are some parameters—numberswise—that you want at certain positions. Yet, you don't want to bring a player in (solely) to get your number count right, and (have to part ways with) a player that's going out (who) might be a decent prospect. So, I think our numbers right now are close to where we want them. The fourth quarterback would be someone that would allow us, obviously, reps and drills. Oftentimes, when you have the running back separate from the tight ends, it gives you another arm."

Is there a though of getting more reps for Garrett (Grayson)?

"That's going to happen regardless of whether there is a fourth quarterback or not. That wouldn't impact him."

Do veteran quarterbacks have to play much in the preseason?

"They will play some. We will limit the amount of snaps based on where we are. Obviously, we will get Garrett (Grayson) a bunch of reps. But we are not going to all of a sudden change our format for the preseason. We'll have a good idea of how we're going to roll those guys through."

Looking at preseason (and) training camp, usually you compete against one other team (in a joint practice). What was the decision to go against the Patriots and the Texans?

"I had talked to Bill O'Brien, and we had set up a tentative date. We had to wait until the schedule came out. I had talked to Bill Belichick as well. But you aren't guaranteed those games. So when the schedule came out, it fit. If you'll notice the space, we play New England on a Thursday, and we don't play the next game until Saturday. That gives us a chance to be right back into our schedule for a good four days and then travel. When we travel to Houston, essentially, camp leaves West Virginia and comes to New Orleans."

When you evaluate Garrett Grayson, is it more through a developmental prism, the competition, or something else?

"You look at his progress, decisions, accuracy, and ultimately, the job's to move your team and score. The job's to move your team and score points. Now, that can be done differently. The way he has to do that might be different from the way Drew (Brees) or Luke (McCown) does it. Ultimately, in those scrimmage and game settings, you receive a better feel for, 'is the team moving the ball?' That's the big thing."

Do you look forward to West Virginia?

"Yesterday was hotter than today. It was hot. It is all relative though. As soon as you start talking about heat, then you can go back to 2006 or 2007 in Jackson, Miss. This is a cool day (in comparison)."

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