New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Presented By Verizon Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Is there anything going on with John Phillips*?*
"He had appendicitis."
Can you talk about the depth you have at linebacker and a guy like Craig Robertson? Does he figure to slot back into where he was originally expected to play?
"What you saw today (was that) Craig moved over to the Mike, and you saw Stephone (Anthony) taking reps at the Will. I want to see Stephone over there on the weakside for a good period of time. I thought during today's practice he was pretty good there. There's versatility with some of those guys, so with Craig—Craig's played them all. (Michael) Mauti's played them all. (Nate) Stupar's played a handful of those. (Alex) Anzalone, we think, can go inside at Mike. He has played Mike before. (A.J.) Klein, certainly, has played Mike, and you will see him get Mike reps when we get into some of the nickel situations. For the most part, as you look at that group, there is a primary and a secondary spot they can play. That is how we repped them at today's practice."
Are the reads you make from Sam to Will very different?
"Yes, Sam and Will are different. When you are playing over at the Will, you are protected by not getting an uncovered guard on you. You are generally over to the three-technique side. Those two would be different."
What about Stephone Anthony makes him a potential fit there?
"Number one: he can run and hit. I think, when you play over there on the weakside, that is the first job description, as well as playing well in coverage. So, I thought he handled it really well today."
You were pretty blunt about what had been holding him back the past couple of years. Has this been an impressive offseason for him?
"Yes. I think he's done well. I think the time on task with our defense (has been good). I am anxious to see him get back out there, and I'm expecting him to do well. Like I said, today's the first day, and we're not in pads, but I thought he looked pretty comfortable there."
Can you comment on being back out here for training camp again?
"It was good. Like I mentioned before, you're just trying to be smart between periods. I thought, overall, they are moving around well. We ran afterwards. The key for these guys is to take care of their bodies—hydrating. The recovery period takes place now. We will have a teaching session—more of a walkthrough or extended meeting, really—in the PM. I thought we had good work today. On Saturday, we will be able to put the pads on."
How much were the huddling issues concerning or just first-day issues?
"If it does not look right, or it feels like it is not the way you want it, as coaches we make a point of emphasis to make them huddle again."
What about Marshon Lattimore's performance?
"I thought he did pretty well. He had a couple of good snaps. He is stronger. I thought the offseason for him was good. We felt when he came in following the draft process that he had to get back into shape. So, he looked better today. I thought he had a few good (pass) breakups."
He had to leave before you began the running, though.
"We had two or three guys that cramped up. They just have to get fluids and IVs."
What does Ryan Ramczyk have to do to win that job?
"At the end of the day, specifically if you asked what the left tackle has to do, the first thing he has to do is stay in front of them. Now, there is a lot to that: getting the calls, being able to handle the run and the pass equally well. So, it requires a level of consistency and trust."
Last night you did not want to elaborate on the conditioning test. Who were some of the guys that were the top guys?
"We went through it, and number one, I would say that for this test, the best receiver times—(Jake) Lampman and a few of those guys—were in the 80s on average. Yet, we had defensive linemen in the 70s. So, that gives you an idea of the type of test it involved, with the rowers and the sled pushes. A lot of the defensive linemen stood out. A.J. Klein stood out. Brees, as I mentioned, had a really good time. I could go on, and on, and on, but that intermediate weight group stood out. It seemed to tilt in that direction. The weight on the sled for the corners or the receivers, proportionate to their sizes, was significant. Yet, it was a challenge."
What effect has Mike Nolan had on the linebackers?
"He's coached that position for a long time. He's done a good job, certainly, in the preparation and the attention to details. We met as a staff last night. Just as we're asking the players to have their best camp, we need to have our best camp. His experience is something that I think has helped us."
Was there any sort of extra welcome for (Michael) Mauti?
"No, it was all good. The guys were excited to see him. Shoot, he was a special teams captain a year ago, so I know everyone felt really good knowing that he had gone through a lot."
How have you seen David Onyemata grow?
"We saw growth last year while he was playing. With the limited amount of snaps he had—maybe high school through college—we knew when we drafted him that we were getting someone that we felt had a high ceiling. He has continued to improve on his technique, recognizing certain combination blocks and what the offense is trying to do. He is certainly going to be in that rotation and a guy that we are counting on."
Can you talk about the competition on defense with so many spots up for grabs and what the young players need to prove to you?
"I mentioned yesterday that there are a number of spots guys are competing at. There is really good competition at corner, even at the safety position. It's early, not being in pads yet. I mentioned the linebacker position, and certainly on the right side with the defensive end. At all of those spots, guys are working to be consistent and improve, eliminating the mistakes that they made in the spring, and building on those (reps)."
In your experience with first-year to second-year wide receivers, what tends to be the biggest leap for them, and what do you hope to see from Michael Thomas?
"I think (there are) two things. Number one: it varies. Occasionally, you get a guy that transitions right away, a guy like (Marques) Colston. Robert Meachem was a guy that we drafted early that took a year before he got going. He was battling an injury early in his career. So, it depends on the player. Mike has worked hard in the offseason. He will not be a guy that flies under the radar like you might as a rookie. He will continue to work on his craft and get better."
This is your 12th year doing this with Drew (Brees). As you evaluate him, is there anything different between how you look at him now and how you saw him then?
"It is my 11th, but Drew's 12th. I think the preparation and process is still the same, as are the expectations and the meeting schedule. There are some things, obviously, that have changed over time, with the addition of certain personnel groups or plays. But, it is still a methodical approach to each day and really (about) working on that afternoon."
Was that a fluky play where Drew got run into?
"You just have to be mindful of the tempo. Obviously, you want to stay clear of the quarterback. Feet got tangled, and a block fell into his lap, so it is one of the things you try to guard against."
Drew threw for the second most yards of his career last season. Is the sky the limit even though he is 38?
"I think the most important thing is for us to win. I think Drew himself would say that. That is the stat that we're paying close attention to. Hopefully, we're in a position where we are not in one-dimensional games, either chasing a lead or a big score. Each week, that can vary. Our attention's a lot more on the efficiency of what we're doing."
On the linebackers: can we expect a daily change to see different guys?
"You will see rotations. There are some guys that we might kick and move, but you will see a rotation. I would not read too much into who is with the ones, twos, and threes, because that will rotate somewhat. More importantly, we are trying to get a few guys comfortable at a certain position. Stephone (Anthony), specifically at the Will, is a little bit like Andrus (Peat) who came in, worked on the right side and worked at left tackle, because of an injury played at left tackle, then settled in at left guard. Hopefully, we can do the same for Stephone."
Will (A.J.) Klein be moving?
"You will see him at Sam. You will see him at Mike."
What can Ted Ginn Jr. bring to this offense?
"He is experienced, and he can run. I think he likes football, so there is a calmness and confidence about him. Also, (he will be helpful) as a return specialist. Having seen him and played against him twice a year, it is good to have him here."