New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - 2018 Training Camp Presented by Verizon - Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Was this the plan, to go inside?
"Part of it was the wet fields and it's also a good opportunity for us to come in and change it up, but it wasn't a plan all along."
It is to safe to say that you like to have the one wet practice happen like Monday and that's enough?
"No. That was spontaneous and most of the time, I said this before, that here when it's raining usually you're inside because there's lightning. It's unusual to have that much rain and be able to practice but we'll be outside most of the time."
What about Brandon Tate that made you want to bring him in?
"Well, he had a good workout, we're familiar with the players just with his experience. We'll have a chance to take a look at him both in the punt-kick return game and then also at receiver."
*And then with Floyd? *"Same way, we thought the workout went well. It's a hard position group to be in camp with, with a lot of guys not practicing and that's just how it is. He's someone that's big and we think we have a good vision for what his strengths are, and we'll have a chance to see him."
Are these guys recent workouts or are they previous?
"We just worked them out the other day."
Is there a different protocol for you when you have a guy like Floyd who's had issues off the field, do you get more involved in making sure everything is okay from that standpoint?
"I think we spent a lot of time on any player. Any player we're bringing in we've got a character grade on, we've got a makeup grade on. We'll talk about all of those things, good and bad. Obviously when we bring players in they understand the expectations. He's someone that I'm sure understands it."
He didn't raise any more red flags than someone else would?
For someone like Dan Arnold, how far along does he need to be as a blocker to be viable?
"It takes a while for you to make a change like that from receiver to a tight end. It has happened before. It's not unprecedented. It's happened a lot before. Understanding that, there has to be a patience with regards to his body weight, you can't quickly jump up but he's someone that carries weight pretty easily, so he's been able to add and he's made progress."
We didn't see Benjamin Watson out there, what's going on with him?
"Like I said, I'm not going to go through each player each day injurywise. I think I've said that before."
Is the kick return game causing you more anxiety than usual?
"No, we just want to be better in that area."
With the offense being in place for more than a decade, where do you look for new inspiration?
"We get all the tape from the other NFL teams in our rooms. So, we study the top eight or ten teams in each category. Weekly, we don't just watch opponent tape, we're also looking at tape that's trending in the league a certain direction. Clearly, we'll see a lot of college film so that doesn't ever stop, those ideas and thoughts. From '06 to now, there are a lot of things that have morphed into plays that have changed, terminology that's changed and I think most importantly how it fits our personnel. "
Is it trying to stay ahead of the curve, trying to follow things trending in the league and fit that into your offense?
"If it fits our personnel and what we want to do."
How do you grade a play when it looks like it would have been a sack, but the play continues?
"We're not necessarily keeping score 'O' and 'D' on each play. We're keeping score with each player. So, if a receiver separates on a route and the quarterback gets sacked, but the receiver wins regardless if it's even thrown, the receiver himself will get a plus because he did a good job. So, there's a lot. When you're grading each rep, you're looking at the offensive line, how's the protection? Where is the breakdown? You are looking at the pass rush, you're looking at the coverage. Obviously in this game, it's a team game, there's a lot of wins and losses that take place away from the eye, so you have to pay attention to that. You have got to look at that and you have to be able to grade that."
Is there a holder battle between Taysom Hill and Thomas Morstead?
"Yes. Those guys are the two that are working at that position right now. Thomas has done it for quite a while and Taysom's been working at it all last year as well. So yes, those guys are competing for that position. Both of them are smart guys. I don't know if I'd look at it as a battle other than both of them are receiving a lot of work at it. It is important to make sure that Wil (Lutz) begins to feel the same rhythm with whoever is going to hold for him, but we have time."
What kind of development have you seen from Garrett Griffin, who is now in his third camp?
"He's developed, and I'd say a little bit differently maybe than we had projected. I feel like he's a little further along with his ability to block, both in the run and in the passing game protection and still working as a receiver. When he came here, I think our vision initially was that of that he was going to be more of a receiver. But he's doing well. He's gotten stronger in his technique. He's improved."
What does Griffin need to do to make a roster?
"Be one of the final tight ends that's here. We're early. We have got a lot of work ahead of us, but he's someone we like and we're developing."
Have you seen a step forward from Trey Hendrickson?
"Yes. It's a little early, but I think he's healthy. There's an edge with how he plays and I like the player. It's hard to measure right now in our fifth or sixth day, but I think as the preseason unfolds, we'll be able to see that."
How much more comfortable are you with the long snapper this year compared to what you went through last year?
"We spent time on him yesterday (in meetings). We met on all these players yesterday. He is doing well. Yes. He's gotten better. I think his location has gotten better and some of his coverage snaps have been good. Keep working him with the timing, location obviously on the field PATs and the punt snaps, but I'm glad he's with us."
Does he have a chance to contribute in coverage?
"Coverage when he's snapping the ball. He's in coverage as a punt snapper."
Is this about as good as Terron Armstead's looked?
"He is healthy. To Terron's credit, he had a real good offseason. It was not an offseason, (where) a lot of times with an injury you spend a good portion of it rehabbing and then you're getting back to land-based football. So, for him he's been healthy and he's doing well."
Speaking of veterans that are healthy, how encouraging is it seeing Alex Okafor out there in full movement?
"Good. He's ahead of schedule. We'll be smart with his snaps but he's one of those guys (we monitor) considering the injury. I know he's pleased, he's worked hard."
David Onyemata's growth, was there a point last year where it seemed like he got over the hump and has just gone full speed ahead?
"I think he's played well. He played well last season. Each year he's been here, he's gotten better. He's certainly one of our guys that we feel like will be a big part of what we're doing. So, he's playing good football."
Is any of that a credit to Ryan Nielsen?
"I think the whole process, both the coaching and the player working hard. All of the above. All of those things are required for a player to develop. So, Ryan's done a good job working with that group and working with him and David's done a real good job of getting stronger with the snaps he's receiving and understanding all the nuances of playing inside, but he's doing well."
It sounds like he's starting to realize the upside that you thought he had when you drafted him?
"No, I felt that last year, this isn't new, he graded out well last year."
In retrospect how much of a risk was that when you picked him?
"Well anytime you draft a player there's the risk he's not the player you evaluated, but we felt really good about what we see in the workouts. It's harder sometimes with the college film, but we were excited to have him when we drafted him, and it's paid off."
Is there a next step for him?
"It hasn't stopped, and he's gone this direction, but he's having a good camp."
Check out photos of the New Orleans Saints from Day 7 of Training Camp presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on August 1, 2018.