New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton OTA #6 Media Availability Thursday, May 31, 2018
Is there a reason you decided to work the team inside today?
"We just had two real good days outside, really changing it up, and I think we handled the heat well. so, it's a good changeup for us and I think it changes the practice once in a while when you do that."
Is the crazy heat that we've had right now almost a good thing to get the new guys ready for training camp, sort of get them acclimated?
"Yes, as long as you have a balance with it and taking enough breaks. But I do not know if it's unseasonably (warm), it just seems like it's what you get used to and the spring seems shorter. You go right from winter to the 90's, but no they handled it well this week."
You get to know your guys during training camp, but how much can you get a gauge of your team this time of year in OTA's, can you get a feel for that?
"The start of it you begin to implement what you're wanting to do and also there's going to be mistakes and you're hoping that you can reduce those as training camp starts and guys are able to perform without the mental element of the game slowing them down and certainly they have to be able to play and understand the adjustments, but you're hopefully going through the teaching process and repeating that again."
Could you tell this time last year with so many young players that things had changed even this time last year for the better with your team?
"I don't know that you know right away, we started 0-2 and I think once the season gets going and once you get into training camp you begin to gauge it or have a feel for what your team looks like and yet until you go play somebody even in the preseason you really are just going by past experience."
Only one team from the NFC from 2016 made if back to the playoffs in 2017, so what are you telling your team just to say here's what we need to do to be ready to make it back?
"I don't know that I am telling them that (exactly). Obviously there is parity in our league. What I mean by that's teams very quickly can improve themselves in the division. You see that each year in our game. So, I think the idea (is) that you are starting from square one and it's an entirely different year."
*Would you say it's a goal this year to reduce Cam Jordan's snap count a little bit or is that just the value you get from him? *"One of his strengths is he has real good stamina. Obviously, you want to have the depth where you can substitute players in critical situations pass rush situations. Hopefully we have that depth. But I think a lot of it, week by week we'll be dependent on how he's doing. But it's something that to his credit, (he) is real good with. He can play a lot of plays, play number 40 can be like play number four. So, it is getting the other guys up to speed and getting him more help collectively as a defense, rushing the passer."
You don't see a drop off with him at any point based on numbers?
"I'm not. It's not something right now we've looked at. Obviously we try to pay attention to pitch count once the season starts and then really be mindful of how many plays we might play in one game and there might be a lot of snaps on offense in the first half and maybe there's you know 15 snaps on defense. So, it can it can go back and forth."
Does that new kickoff rule change the body type of the up backs?
"Yes, I think it does I think it probably takes some of the offensive linemen that have done that before off the field and I think you're going to see a smaller overall group of 11 players or 10 players minus the returner."
Is that going to change maybe how you look how you put together the kickoff return team and how it affects other positions?
"It may again, the offensive line you've kept we've kept nine, ten (on the regular season roster), eight to the game seven or eight (active on gameday). So, I don't know that that's going to change to the game, but certainly you need to have healthy guys that can play in those other spots."
What are your initial impressions of Will Clapp, what you've seen so far?
"He's a guy that's picked things up. I think there's so many guys out here that are receiving reps. So far, he's done well. We'll continue to watch the tape. It's hard to draw real conclusions when we're just without pads, but so far, he's done a good job."
Have you noticed any progressions from a guy like Justin Hardee?
"Yes. Look, he played (wide) receiver in training camp last year and then we were able to get him (after the end of the preseason). So, I think he is more and more comfortable with how the defense is being called. We count on him to play a role in the kicking game as well. But I think he'll be that further along (on defense)."
How encouraged are you by (Alex) Anzalone, how he looks and how he's moving around?
"Good. He's healthy. He's done well. It's good to see him out here."
I'm sure when you go look at veteran free agents you try to get to know them as well as you can but three guys who were here before were brought back, in Jermon Bushrod, Patrick Robinson and Benjamin Watson. How much does it help having that experience?
"I think that helps quite a bit. I mean you kind of know the makeup and you know the personality of a player you know whether it's Jermon, Patrick, those are guys that you know we've been with, who is the third one I am missing? Ben Watson. Yeah. So, look I think it helps a lot with regards to their personality and their ability to learn. I think that it's important."
What are specific traits of those three guys?
"They are smart players. Obviously with Ben, you know he's someone that has versatility and he's a super teammate and all three of them are really good teammates. Jermon played both tackle and guard and then Patrick, who we feel is playing some of his better football at the nickel."
What has stood out with Robinson? Does he seem like a different, more mature veteran guy?
"Number one, I think to his credit he has been healthy. Last year he had ball production and predominantly played mostly in the nickel role. He is a smart player and he's extremely athletic so I think the combination of those things."
Do you envision seeing a role for him here any different than Philadelphia?
"Yes, that is the vision initially is playing and competing in that nickel position. Obviously, he has flexibility to go outside, but yes."
So, when you look at the competition between Michael Thomas and (Marshon) Lattimore it seems like they really get after each other and take pride in who's going to win the reps when they go against one another?
"There's a lot of times where Mike's going against Marshon and you know those are both competitive guys. They are young players. They are going with the ones and so it's pretty normal to see six or seven plays each day. You know where those two are working against each other. I think that competition helps them both. Obviously, it elevates their play."
You mentioned that the reps of Cameron Jordan earlier so how much more important is depth this time of year in the NFL in terms of ten years ago. Is depth more of a concern, something you think about building depth this time of the year compared to ten years ago?
"I think the game changed with regards to the position groups that you're on the field with in the season. The depth this time of the year is the same. The rosters are 90. They've been at 80 before and they're at 90 now. I think overall though, you know you want to have enough guys and pressure players and a decent rotation. I think you know one of the more taxing positions to play is a defensive line. And so, to have some versatility there can help."
Can you talk about the performance of the backup quarterbacks both today and in the offseason so far?
"Those guys, they're all receiving reps. Taysom (Hill) now into his second year here. Tom (Savage) is receiving snaps and getting the system down. Of course, J.T.'s (Barrett) in his first year. So, the key thing for those guys is really getting the mental aspect of everything from the play call, the cadence to what we're going to do with the line of scrimmage and then executing it. But it's a good room, those guys are working hard at it."
Speaking of mental aspect (Alex) Anzalone seemed like he picked things up pretty quick based on what he did a year ago, I know he was hurt but What are your expectations for him now moving forward?
"We were really pleased last year early in the year when he was playing. He's smart, he's someone that has really good range, can play in all three downs. He's someone we think is a good player on third down, so it gives you flexibility at linebacker. The key for him is just you know staying healthy. He is someone that picks things up very quickly though and I think that's a strength of his."
What are some of the things you like about Boston Scott, his versatility?
"I think he has good balance and vision. We felt when we watched him we saw someone around the ball with pretty good pad level, he is explosive and he can do some things in the passing game. We also see him as a return(er). So, for him it's really picking up the protections, all the challenges of a first-year running back that they have. But so far, he's doing well."
Do you think that getting offensive linemen the last couple of years from programs that run more pro-style schemes kind of helps them adjust?
"I'd say it doesn't hurt. I think that position depending on what you're looking for whether it's an inside player, or a tackle they're going to have to a fit first, a prototype or a vision of what you're looking for and then second, be able to handle the protection schemes. So I don't know that we've identified programs in college that we said hey this is where we're at sometimes, it's a coincidence, but we do have that vision as to how we think this player is going to fit into our scheme especially those positions."
The New Orleans Saints host OTA's at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on May 31, 2018.