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Quotes from Sean Payton's Rookie Camp press conference

Coach Payton spoke with members of the media on Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Rookie Minicamp Post-Practice Media Availability

Saturday, May 16, 2015

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Is there a position that you think it would be easiest for an undrafted rookie or tryout guy to come in and make a name for himself on your team?

"For our team specifically, the initial thoughts are areas where we felt like maybe we were thin just based on depth, the defensive line for instance with a couple of guys that were on our team a year ago and are no longer with us (in Tyrunn) Walker and (Brandon) Deaderick.  We drafted a player there (Tyeler Davison), a lot of it position-wise, though, that is one thing that comes to mind.  We had nine draft picks this year so (the) signed free agents after the draft that number weren't as high just based on the amount of guys we had drafted.  Forget our team for a second, history with those late round free agents would tell you receiver or corner (provide opportunities for undrafted players) and yet we were looking at this going back now nine years the number of players that we've signed after the draft that have made our roster and they have been (at) linebacker when you look at a (Jonathan) Casillas, they have been a running back (Chris Ivory, Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas).  We have had a handful of running backs.  They have been receiver so it has kind of been across the board, but with this year's team I'd say it is very early in this rookie camp to look at where the potential guys might be.  We're watching a lot of the tape.  I would say this camp is further along than some of the rookie camps we've had in the past just with the, not the execution but these guys coming in and picking things up pretty quickly.  It has been impressive.  I just got finished telling them that."

Is Andrus Peat working at a specific spot or are you moving him around?

"He's taking reps at right and left.  Predominately we worked him at the right tackle position.  He has the skillset to play either.  Obviously he played left tackle at college.  I think it's going to be important for him initially as he gets ready to come to the veterans minicamp and then (in) training camp to begin to have a primary spot.  I see that being initially at right (tackle), but also see him being able to go and play left (tackle).  Typically most of these (offensive) linemen will have two spots we train them at during training camp.  You'll feel, when you guys get a chance to be around him, his size and his length.  He is a quick study. He is smart.  He is an impressive young player, really impressive."

Will the Stanford school dates hold Andrus Peat out?

"It holds him out of the program Monday, Tuesday, this phase two.  It holds him out of some OTAs, much like Brandin Cooks and then the same with Brandin he was able to come to the minicamp.  He will miss some of the offseason and then there will be a process where we will make sure we are communicating with him with where we are at with the installation.  But very similar because they are on the quarter system."

Do you do a lot of sending him material over?

"They will take stuff home because the others are here.  The unique thing now, the way the schedule is set up, in fact a lot of these rookies were here Monday of this week, Tuesday, Wednesday, lifting weights, getting acclimated in football school because that is kind of what we are in right now.  I think that helps them obviously when you get to this weekend with the football part of it.  In his case we will make sure he has those materials and will make sure we set up some time whether we are Skyping, I don't know what the technology is.  We are basically still being able to go through an install but the rules will allow him to come back for the vet minicamp."

Bret Ingalls said Peat is extremely fluid for a big guy.  Is that what you guys saw?

"Absolutely, well you see it on film, you see it in the workouts and then when he is actually here you see his size and then you see his athleticism and it is pretty impressive."

Last week two draft picks from other teams tore ACLs, have you ever had that happen here?

"I do not think, regardless of whether the drafted player has signed his contract or not, I think it would be treated much like that across the league (how the Broncos and Jaguars handled it).  The concern is preventing it (the serious injury) from happening.  There are a combination of two or three things that can take place.  A lot of these guys, (especially) the higher round players, have spent the last three weeks visiting clubs.  When you travel it's hard to train.  Before that they were training for their workouts and the combine so it's fair to say they're behind from a football physical standpoint of being in shape so it's important for us to make sure that the transition here isn't too fast physically.  In other words we have to get them up to speed.  Now we had the advantage by having the second weekend, there are two weekends we are allowed to have a rookie minicamp, the first one after the draft or the second one.  By having the (rookie minicamp on the) second weekend it allowed us to have four days with them and really get a gauge on where they are at.  But that being said, that is a concern.  You are wanting to make sure the tempo is right.  You are wanting to make sure that you don't suffer a setback.  It happens and I am sure those are tough things especially when it is a highly profile player you've invested a lot of research."

What was the situation with Ty Zimmerman last year?

"I want to say that he came in the offseason, I know he was rehabbing at training camp but the point being the player is still, one of two things happen with a free agent, (one being) an injury settlement based on the injury.  Let's say it is a hamstring and we say it is going to be four weeks then there is a settlement number that would equate to four weeks.  Often times the player will just continue to rehab with you so it is actually pretty simple with regards to the contract."

When you bring veterans in like (Da'Quan) Bowers and (Chase) Coffman for a tryout, what are you looking to see from those guys?

"Well it gives us an idea as to their skillset, again we have all the film work done but how do they actually look specifically to our team.  You get to know the player for a little bit.  One of the things I said to the start of this minicamp was that we've had players that have made this roster.  We have had veteran players, (such as) Billy Miller, (and) a handful of others that were veteran players that were on a tryout we signed.  We've had (undrafted ) rookies, Khiry (Robinson), just to name a few that were on this tryout that we signed.  We've had free agents.  The point is our roster has all of those designations, draft picks, signed free agents, tryout rookies and tryout veterans.  I think it is important to know that they are trying to make an impression and they are not in here just to fill numbers up.  We will go up here in a meeting in a little bit and we will talk about each one of these guys as we are watching the tape.  How was this day for them, the morning practice?  And then what would our vision be if we were to sign them?"

How much input does your position coaches and coordinators have in this process?

"They have some input, it's more about (in their role), they'll write up the grades on players we ask them to grade.  Jeff Ireland, myself and Mickey (Loomis) will kind of closely be (more) involved with the overall process.  The coaches (have a role), kind of like the scouts, now the scouts have worked on a player for a year.  The coaches would begin the process at the end of the season leading up to the combine and they will write reports for their position and maybe we ask them to follow up on a couple players, maybe go to some individual pro days.  But ultimately I would say it starts with the scouts, the area scout that knows the player when we are assigning a grade.  Jeff did a great job of managing and putting the information together and really doing a good job of directing the room and then Mickey and I will take that information in and then we will make our decision."

Is there a point when that process is starting where the coach is communicating the traits they are looking for?

"No, what we do every year is talk about the defense, the offense, what we are looking for from a body type with regards to our scheme but they are part of the process, the coaches are, but ultimately it would be the reports."

When you are acquiring players in the offseason do you pick players based on how they fit the scheme or is that something that evolves naturally?

"That is a good question in that do you have flexibility?  Back in 2006 we had the opportunity to draft Reggie Bush.  I don't know that we identified running back as a must position, Deuce (McAllister) was here and we were able to select him and within 24 hours we were looking at more college tape and taking advantages of his skillsets.  I would say there is a scheme that we want to run and a defense and offense we want to play and C.J. Spiller for instance was not necessarily on our radar at the beginning of free agency and then very quickly into it he became someone that was.  So that will change a little about where we go directionally, certainly it is not overhaul but I think one of the things that we try to do is alright, here are the players that we have now put together and there has been a plan with that.  We are looking at corners that obviously are bigger but we still have to have that flexibility to look at who we are able to select and what do we think their strengths are and address it that way.  You do start the process in the very beginning with this is who we are, these are some of the prototypes we are looking for and yet the idea is really drafting good football players."

What have you seen from Garrett Grayson so far?

"It's been impressive.  He's a quick decision maker.  He has good arm strength, his athleticism, he is in shape and you guys will have a chance to see him soon at practice.  He has been real effective.  I said this to Pete (Carmichael), we have three quarterbacks in this camp, one (Grayson) under contract and then two tryout quarterbacks, all three of them I would say have been one of the better combinations of quarterbacks in a rookie camp that we've had.  So that's encouraging.  He's been sharp.  He's a quick study and very accurate.  You guys will see that."

Drew Brees is out here.  Is Drew watching practice at all?

"He's come out the last. I am sure he's come out to watch rookie camp, he does that quite a bit.  I know he is also probably babysitting.  His kids love running around here.  We have had a number of players come out.  It is pretty common.  Yesterday we had I want to say seven or eight guys.  It was a Friday, they finished their workouts and they just wanted to come out and see.  They also wanted to see what we are doing maybe that we are putting in on offense or defense and then just watch their position group.  I think it is good."

What specific qualities are you looking for when you are drafting a quarterback?

"Accuracy is up there.  There are traits physically we are looking for.  He is 6'2 ½" so there is a triangle of things you are looking at, position specific.  Is he a guy that competes?  Is he tough?  How is he when the team is behind?  How does he handle pressure?  Can he avoid or can he run or is he someone that is going to be in the pocket and has a little bit of a sack liability?  You grade all of these elements but certainly accuracy would be one of the key things that we would look at."

What grabbed you about Garrett Grayson?

"There were the games that he played in.  He had a good volume of work.  Our exposure to him both at the combine, our exposure to him closer to the draft, obviously the Monday before the draft, so throughout the process we saw a number of things that we valued and he has the stature, he's got the height and he's got the size.  We will see how it goes."

That Boston College finish is one that a lot of people were talking about.

"We watched that tape with him on the visit because he had two interceptions and got hit hard on one of those plays and the team came back.  So you want to see how they handle some adversity.  But on a player like that we will have seen every game and watched his individual workout that we saw that necessarily the coaches weren't there. Then we flew out, had another workout with him so by the time we get to the draft with a player like Garrett, you have a pretty good sense to his strengths, his weaknesses and then it is just trying to determine where can we realistically acquire the player."

When you drafted (Stephone) Anthony you looked at him as a Mike linebacker, obviously he has the physical traits but you also need to have the traits of being a leader, how much did that stick out to you? That he could come in and fill that role of being the quarterback of the defense?

"I would say this, one of the strengths of (David) Hawthorne is his ability to communicate and when you look at his time at TCU and even in Seattle as a mike, he is someone that was very good in that role. I think when you see this from Stephone (Anthony) you see a number one college defense at Clemson. Brent (Venables) and his staff there did a great job and you can see it on film. You get that confidence with a player, as you guys will have a chance to see when you're around him. He is very mature, it's really important to him, he is a good communicator, all of those things were huge pluses. The trick was not liking him then, the trick was alright, if we put a certain grade on him, once we get past this spot in round one, we know historically there is going to be a little run here. The other thing I would say that's notable with him is his size, his stature. I mean he's big so this has been a really good exposure for us now and getting a chance to see him and to see him articulate the defense, learn the defense, it's awfully important to him and so he has some of those traits but we do see him as a Mike."

How much have you been following the developments with the Pelicans this week and is there ever a time when you have to talk to Mickey (Loomis) when he is tied up with that end of it?

"Obviously, I probably found out after you and shot Monty (Williams) a text right away. I'm a huge fan of Monty (Williams) so you're going to get a biased opinion if it's me talking. I just have a ton of respect for him, we had a few text messages and I'm sure we will have a chance to spend some more time and visit and at the same time it's one of those arenas that I don't know enough about. I'll watch a little bit and my son will fill me in on the roster and who's doing what but it's hard when you see that because you know someone. It's one of the tough things about our profession."

What you hear from so many of the players this year is that they are workers and not afraid to do the little things.

"Make no mistake about it, I think one of the messages way prior to the draft was, if we went back and evaluated different draft classes and we all go back to 2006, time allows you to look closer at how successful a draft was or not, but if you went back to that draft and you took (a look at) seven rounds and you said (you'd pick) (Reggie) Bush, (Roman) Harper, there were no threes, Jahri Evans, Rob Ninkovich, two sixes that didn't make it, and then (Zach Strief) and (Marques) Colston. Every one of those guys has some common boxes that are checked off and we need to make sure we are doing to the same thing and clearly look at those traits that we've always valued and that was a big emphasis with this class. You start going through the picks here and checking them off. This is our first chance to be around them for a long period of time but it's a hard league to make it in and there's some toughness that's needed and guys need to be shard and need to have passion. If you go back and have the review of prior drafts and you look at players that didn't hit, there's a good a chance that one of those boxes was a little grey or wasn't as clean. Production is important and yet you kind of factor all of these things in."

Is that one of the reasons you have a lot of seniors and fifth-year seniors, guys that were dependable coming out of this draft?

"I don't know specifically if we biased ourselves with seniors as opposed to juniors because there's a number of juniors that have those boxes checked so I don't know that we look specifically that way but certainly there's past production with these players. I don't know, specifically to your question, that we were going to be leery of juniors, it was more about how do we think they fit into our locker room and how do we feel like their makeup is what we're looking for."

Did you think, looking back, that team chemistry was an area you needed to improve on dramatically?

"We felt like it needs to be better and that starts with us and that starts with me. In other words, it is a fickle thing because you can win some games early and say we had great team chemistry. Typically that specific topic is tested through adversity so when you face a loss or two loses or you face a tough overtime game, it gets put to test more readily then if you win. By and large, starting with me and our coaching staff along with the team is we understand and know, a sixteen game season we are going to have some tough stretches but we've got to be able to battle back. So I think back to the make up with regards to our success and when we've been successful, That was a big point of emphasis."

Delvin Breaux, another guy you're getting a chance to see, what do you see from him?

"We saw him for a workout. You guys know the story, he had multiple visits set up and played up in Canada, you know his history here out of high school and LSU. He's been really good at this camp, active, you can see he is in shape. So there are five players at this workout that have been with us most of the offseason, a couple practice squad players. Those guys are a little ahead just because they are in better shape."

You mentioned sending materials home with guys, has anyone ever really lost that stuff and what would happen if they did?

"No, it's a little bit easier now because it's more computer-driven."

So you could wipe it out if someone lost theirs?

"It's somewhat overrated if someone got someone else's huddle or snap count. I guess you can tune into a network game and get the snap count. It's easy to just send and generate (that) through a computer."

Any reaction to the Patriots penalties?

"I knew that question was coming at some point. We went through a process three years ago and I'm sure they are going through one right now but other than that our focus right now for me and our team is on what we are doing right now. We've got enough problems ourselves to solve and that's what I'd say."

Can you compare the strengths of (Hau'oli) Kikaha and (Davis) Tull and maybe what they could add for you guys?

"(Davis) Tull is a guy that's not able to practice yet. We see some upside with him, he was a good, productive player in college, he was a good pass rusher. I'd say a little bit different in Hau, that's what he goes by, Hau has been highly productive. You get a crystal clear vision right away, you know exactly what you're getting with the player, he's smart, he's tough, there's a passion to how he plays, you see it out here. There are similar type players in at the position that we see (Davis) Tull playing, which would be at outside linebacker. He is rehabbing the shoulder, he's got some work to do. For him, I'm sure it will be a process and the rehab being here will be good for him while he is learning the system."

As far as he (Davis Tull) goes, you've had success with small school guys in the past, does that make it easier to draft a guy like that?

"If you are watching a small school player, is he dominating the competition so the tape might be held to a different standard because he's playing against a smaller school player. Is there any exposure at all-star games where the player's competing against bigger school players, that would be one thing. With him, I think his testing helped him because he is someone who really tested well along with having college production and so it was an attractive fit when we drafted him."

Will (Hau'oli) Kikaha be installed at the Sam position?

"Yeah, he is receiving reps right now at the Sam. Forget the base for a second, seventy five percent of the snaps are in sub. He would be an edge player in pass rush."

Is that what (Anthony) Spencer does too? We've always seen Junior (Gallete) sort of be the one edge rushing outside linebacker.

"I would say in sub, all of these players we're discussing. Wither it's the two young rookies or wither it's (Anthony) Spencer, wither it's Junior (Gallete), all of them, we feel like our guys who will factor in the sub rush from an outside spot. In the base then, there's some variation as to wither they are playing outside at Sam."

Is P.J. Williams someone who can compete right away in that nickel position?

"He's competing and (Damian) Swann is competing. Those guys have all stood out here. I'd say (Damian) Swann specifically and (Delvin) Breaux. PJ (Williams) has picked things up, I do think he is a guy that will have a chance to compete at the nickel and again, with seventy percent of the snaps being nickel, that really is the new base. We get so accustom to the core positions that are used to running out of the tunnel and then you watch the Super Bowl and you watch that game, and we've watched both sides of the ball and close to eighty percent of it is played in sub. I think those are two candidates, (Delvin) Breaux will probably work more outside but those two young players will have a chance there and then we've got some players currently on the roster that we feel like will have a chance to compete there."

How has Tyeler Davison's camp been so far?

"Tyeler is doing well. This has been a good camp for him. I think he's active, (and) he's a really smart player. He's a guy that wrestled when he was in high school, you guys will meet him as well. I think you guys will like this class, just when you're around him and visiting with them. It's a challenge to be a defensive lineman or offensive lineman in this camp because the pads are off and at the snap of the ball, we're screaming at them you have to stay up, you have to avoid the contact and it's a little bit easier for the receivers and the corners and the kickers and the punters but it's tougher for those guys to get a fair evaluation without the pads on."

What do like about RJ Harris, the undrafted wide receiver?

"He has stood out in this camp, he has really quick hips, he is explosive, he's got really good speed, a little thin, but he handles bump and run pretty well, and I would say he has been a guy that we have noticed a little bit. There are some snaps were you think who is that, go back, and it is him." 

Can you say anything about the tight ends (Jack) Tabb and (Harold) Spears, are they more blocking then receiving?

"There's a couple of tight ends. I would say (Jack) Tabb is a little bit more versatile to play ether in line Y or off the ball. Harold Spears is a guy I see as a more F type player and then Chase Coffman, who was a drafted tight end who has been in our league for a number of years from Missouri, is another guy we are looking at who has done some good things as well, kind of high cut, runs well and really shows up in the passing game."

Do you have to bring in a veteran at tight end?

"I don't think so, It's a good question, I was curious to see how these young guys were doing but that would not be something we would look at right now and say ok, after the dust has settled, we have to get a tight end. We'll pay attention to that position and yet, the guys who are training right now we feel really good about."

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