Look at photos from Day 1 of New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018 presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on July 26, 2018.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - 2018 Training Camp Presented by Verizon - Thursday, July 26, 2018
Wrapping a little earlier than advertised today, is it the heat or was this the plan from the beginning?
"This time it was just the beginning. We've always gone 8:50 always, no today these first two practices are without pads. So, it's a different type of practice. But we've gotten good work in and some guys will stay out and do some individual stuff."
Your assessment of what you saw out there, the competitiveness and the tempo?
"It was good, tempo was good, a lot of it's the teaching part of what we're doing. But it was more like an OTA if you will."
Mickey (Loomis) was talking about how Max Unger has been a steady hand for you since coming here in 2005. What have you thought of him the past few years and how is he more of a leader now?
"He's a veteran. He's exceptional in regard to his preparation for the game. Certainly, one of our team leaders and one of the leaders in that room, and a very good football player. We're glad to have him. He's been a big part of what we're doing and what we've accomplished and hope to accomplish. So, he's playing well."
*Do the dynamics of that group change at all when you go from a vocal leader like Zach (Strief) to a lead by example guy on the line? *"I think each year every time there's an addition or subtraction, there's always a little bit of a change and yet that room in general has been good here for a while."
What did Tony Sparano mean to you as a friend?
"He meant a lot. He was a close friend. We worked together for three years in Dallas. We were hired on the same day and his office was right next to mine and (he was) probably one of the two or three closest friends I had in the game. He was a tremendous coach, a great person. He was great with his players. It's sad and it's something that still seems a little bit surreal. A group of us will go up there tonight and be at his funeral tomorrow. But a great guy, (he) spoke to our team the day before the Super Bowl. We practiced in Miami on that Saturday on the field (at Dolphin Stadium). It was more of a light practice but afterwards he shared a few words with our players and he and his wife have always been close friends of my family, he'll be missed."
Did you ever try to bring him here?
"Yes, several times."
We saw Cam Jordan take a step forward last year in terms of batting passes, is there a next step for him?
"He's played at a high level and I think for him it would be just defensive success, (the) team's success. All those things that go along with someone who is playing well. So, there's things that we're working on. He's pretty versatile and smart so he is a guy that can play the run well. Also, he's physical and is an active pass rusher.
You've seen Drew (Brees) go through so many training camps, what's changed about the way he approaches it and if not is that remarkable?
"I don't think there's been a lot of change. Certainly, there's little things, like personnel. He's probably worked with 75 receivers, 48 running backs and 27 tight ends and yet it doesn't seem like we're in our 13th camp, collectively as a group so they all kind of run together a little bit. But he takes care of his body. He's an extremely diligent worker and he prepares for it very well."
How do you think Mark (Ingram) is handling his situation?
"He's good. He's in shape and he's out here receiving the reps. He knows obviously what to do. He's been a part of our system for quite a while."
How would you determine/ assess the sense of urgency of the team for the first practice?
"It's the first day. We were not in pads, so this will be a process here. But overall guys were good (for a first impression). Everyone made their weight. I thought the conditioning test yesterday was a good indication of that."
Drew Brees completed an NFL-record 72 percent of his passes in 2017. How much do you attribute that to the run game and as a play-caller how do you obviously just balance that knowing that you have an older quarterback?
"I don't think he's 41 yet (39), but that's a big deal when you get to that age. I think that you're always looking for that balance week to week. Sometimes it can change during the course of the game maybe by gameplan. I think he's a very efficient player and he has been. He's very accurate and the number one goal of all of ours each week is to win. and how we do that might vary week to week, but he's been real good with the location and again understanding of what we're trying to do."
Does the starting quarterback have a special role in setting a tone for training camp?
"Yes. There's a leadership role in that position, so whether it's meetings or conditioning test or first day of practice he's someone that will be one of the last ones off the field here. When there's fans here, he'll be signing. It's someone that is pretty detailed in everything he does."
How much are you looking forward to getting the guys in the pads?
"I think you begin to see the players, especially the newer players, in a different light because you haven't seen them carry pads, and you haven't seen them play in that way. That's something all these guys will be looking forward to."
Is there a date on Andrus Peat to be ready for a full return?
"He's doing well, he is on schedule. We have got a lot of time here and I have a list of three or four players that we have to really be smart with their reps as they get back into full practices."
What is your early impression of the veteran balance and the young guys secondary and how they mesh together?
"We have good leadership there. I think we have got a good mix of young guys, guys that have played, and then a good group of veterans and some new guys that we've added."
How hands on are you going to be for kickoffs this year?
"Mike [Westhoff], Brad [Banta], Kevin [O'Dea] and these guys will study it. We will all study it closely and have a plan hopefully early on. We can take advantage of the rule change."
When Drew (Brees) reports to training camp, do you have the same discussion as over the years, how has it changed?
"No (it hasn't changed). We'll meet at times. He'll come up and spend some time in my office or in the meeting rooms. It's pretty much the same as we've done for years."
How comfortable are you with this year's roster?
"Comfort's never that term you use in training camp. You're trying to improve your roster every year. You try to replace some of the key players you've lost and then build your roster in positions you feel like you want to see improvement from. With that being said, we're at the very beginning of this. We'll begin to see how things are shaping up, we'll have a lot of competition at a number of positions."
Have you been in a position before where you've had at least 20 returning starters?
"I'm sure I have. I just can't think of the year."
How much does that help?
"A smart team is important. It helps if they're playing at a high level. And yet it doesn't promise anything. So, having a nucleus of players that we're bringing back that have played, especially the younger players, helps you tremendously."
How has Marcus Davenport developed and how is it having him working alongside Cam Jordan?
"Good. We haven't put on pads yet. We'll start this weekend. He's picked up what we're doing defensively he has got a lot to learn, but he's a young talented player we're excited to work with."