New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Thursday, December 31, 2015
What went into the decision to put C.J. Spiller on Injured Reserve?
"I think the one thing about him, he and I talked yesterday is not once during the year was he ever complaining about touches. He has been fantastic in his preparation. I think that his recovery has gone smoothly and yet there is still a lot of strength that he needs to get (back) in that right leg. It's a procedure he will be able to recover from 100 percent and yet I know it affected his play this year and the time missed during training camp (hurt him). A guy who is as explosive as he is and with the type of runner he is it just becomes more challenging if you don't have that strength that you are used to and he will spend a good portion of this offseason getting it stronger, getting ready for the offseason and getting to 100 percent."
Will C.J. need another surgery at the end of the season?
"I don't think so. I think without getting ahead here. I don't think so. I think that the one he had is just requiring the time and the offseason in regards to getting it stronger. One of the challenges is if you are a receiver or running back is not necessarily starting, but stopping and being able to put the pressure and make a cut like he does. There is a lot of stress on the leg, but it is something he will be able to recover from and he is someone that we as an organization certainly myself as a head coach and working with the offense are excited to see that through because I do feel that he has some unique skillsets and it was frustrating and I was frustrated for him at times because he wasn't 100 percent or wasn't able or (come) back fully with the strength in his leg to do some of the things that you are used to seeing."
Zach Strief made a statement yesterday that he wanted to finish his career as a member of the Saints. Do you think that speaks to the organization?
"Yes, absolutely. He is a guy that's been here ten years. He was in our original draft class. I think when you look at guys like Zach, Jahri (Evans) and (Marques) Colston, all those guys were drafted in that first '06 class (when he took over as head coach) and then obviously Drew (Brees) coming in that year. Yes, I think you want to build a program where players enjoy and see themselves having a chance to have success at."
How much value does a guy like Marques Colston bring into the meeting room helping with the young receivers?
"I think quite a bit. I have said this before it is very important for young players to come into rooms with the right type of leadership and I think that Marques in his own way is one of those players that's respected and often times seen as quiet. I would say that he is (quiet) and there are times when where he has something to say and it is picked up fairly quickly. I think the work ethic and his preparation mentally and physically is something the younger players see as well."
I know you had a talk with Kenny Vaccaro this time last year that had a big impact on him. What improvements have you seen from him not only his performance, but his approach?
"Each week, I would say his consistency in preparation and practice. He rarely misses a snap and so he goes through the game plan over and over on the field whether it's nickel or the base. I would say his consistency (is evident) and every week we come in and read the grades. He is someone that is operating and playing at an effective level and a consistent level as well."
Was there anything specifically that he needed to change?
"He was a young and talented player and I'd still say that he is a young and talented player, but I think it's hard sometimes when you come into this league like Kenny (Vaccaro) or a first round draft pick and you have all of these things hammering at you in regards to distractions. He is a focused guy, but if you keep the main thing the main thing and he has been able to do that, and that's go out, play, do your job, prepare each week, (and then) all of those other things take care of themselves. That's the one thing that I have seen with him."
For any rookie player who is nearing the end of his first season right now, what can really be gained in that full offseason?
"I see a lot of bodies change in that first year because they're not (necessarily built for football) – the problem with this setup now is that they all drop their weight, they put on their track shoes and spend eight weeks training to run a 40 (-yard dash) twice. So their weight is down, they have their special shoes on and there are at some school probably on the other side of the country, so if they live east, they're going to be at a training (facility) out west. If they live west, they're going to be in South Florida, and if they live in the Midwest, they are going to be in Arizona or Florida. They're going to be with their agents and trainer working on getting ready for the (NFL Scouting) Combine. The minute that ends, the focus then shifts to how much they can lift and how heavy and big they are at the pro day. So there is a lot pulling at them in that first year that's not always conducive to them being ready for rookie camp. It's very conducive to them improving their status or draft status, and so I get that. In other words, we understand that. Whereas this first offseason now, no one cares about how you have been and where you have been selected. Now it is more about getting acclimated to that club's facility, hitting the weight room, being here with these players and preparing for their second season. I think that offseason is much different. It is a little bit quieter. It should be a little bit quieter."
When you are looking at those guys after that process, is there ever a thought process of hey, this guy needs to gain 20 pounds and he is going to slow down?
"I would say that the thought process is that we, like the rest of the clubs, take into account what they have been through. One of the hard things is, the month prior to the draft they're off to New England to see the Patriots, and then they're down to Jacksonville, and then over to Pittsburgh. They are on these visits that day in and day out, (over) those 21 or 30 days prior to the draft, and then the player is selected and that very next weekend, they are out here running 40s, running routes and they're not in shape. It is hard to train and travel for anyone. I think it is the same for the players."
Going into the season you talked about having a different vision this year for the team; has that vision come to fruition like you wanted it to be?
"It was very simple. It wasn't so much the vision. There is a vision for the team. We had to address the culture in the locker room and make sure that we were looking closely at the type of players that we feel are necessary to win games, and so to answer that, yes. Now, are we where we want to be, no. Obviously, we have to improve upon this record."