New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, December 28, 2017
What went into bringing John Kuhn back to practice?"Number one, he's eligible to come back. He has 21 days (before the team has to make a decision about putting him on the active roster. We essentially get a 54th body. I know that he wants to play and wants to continue his career. He's been hanging out with the coaching staff late nights and we're getting kind of tired of him really. He can now go back down and start training. It will give him a chance to get back in the flow of things. You don't know how things go. We have 21 days to either bring him to the roster or not."
*Is there more caution into preparing for a team in Tampa Bay's situation, where they can really throw caution to the wind? *"To your point, we harped on it yesterday in the kicking game. There's no surprise onside kicks this week. They are just onside kicks. There is no surprise fake field goal. It's just an anticipated fake. There's no surprise, you can't use that word. It's that type of mentality when you play a team like this. I will say having just done the third down report, in the last month, they are converting over 50 percent on third down. They have been as good as anyone in football. I think he's (Jameis Winston) playing some of his better football right now. They were in every way, shape or form to win the Carolina game and should have won it probably but they didn't. I think to your initial question, yes, you have to be on point and ready for that type of nothing to lose mentality."
How critical since coming here in 2006 as head coach was it to get the quarterback position right immediately with the signing of Drew Brees*? *"There is not the right word. It was significant obviously. It was the better part of the early evaluation process on that quarterbacks with (Jay) Cutler, (Vince) Young and (Matt) Leinart and the second pick. Just after the combine ended, Drew became available and the focus shifted then a little bit and moved a lot more aggressively towards a player like him. Josh McCown was on a flight (to have a free agent visit) into New Orleans as a potential veteran to work with. But I think it changed everything."
*How much did his postseason and overall experience play a role in bring Tony McDaniel back? *"I think there were two factors. Factor one is he has experience on a good defense (in Seattle) and playing in the postseason and then two, he's been here and we keep a short list and we update that. Believe it or not we update the short list each week as to '(for example) Kasim Edebali was waived yesterday, where is he at'. You're constantly tinkering with this list. I think both those factors of his background, experience and him being with us in the system (in camp), it all fit."
*Does the prior experience in camp help in a situation like that, when you are looking to make additions during the season and want contributions, unlike in the offseason where you are probably casting a wider net? *"I think it is like changing your search engine. There is this, this and this. You receive a smaller sample size. We[re looking at everything in trying to build a roster. At that time (the offseason), you are trying to develop young players. That is what this Tidewater list is all about. You go to Tidewater (major league baseball-triple A baseball comparison) and get a second baseman for a month. You get someone that's sitting there that can come in and help you right away and they're not going to require a long learning process. We would have a Tidewater list at every position at this minute."
Looking at Alvin Kamara*'s performance, have you seen his response from setbacks at times and have you noticed him getting discouraged? *"Overall, good. The setback I can think about was the third and one fumble against Tampa at home here. I don't know how quickly he was discouraged, but I got discouraged for him. I think he has a strong makeup. He's someone that's driven and he's also resilient. He's traveled a long road to get here with Alabama, the junior college and then Tennessee. I think he understands even in the injury (concussion), even a few weeks back…Remember I said this in the beginning, he's very intelligent, he's exceptional with regards to learning. That doesn't just benefit a player on the football field. It benefits him with adversity. It benefits him in so many other areas."
*You have talked about how the contributions of defensive players have helped with the turnaround, but much credit does Dennis Allen deserve for modifying the defense over the past two years? *"Dennis has done a great job. I could not have been more proud of him and his staff. Last week was a great example. I was talking to Mike (Nolan) at practice yesterday. Manti Te'o played one of his better games I think that he's been in as an NFL player. The guys have embraced that role, DA and that whole staff have busted their tails and worked long hours and certainly you like to see the fruits of that."