New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - 2018 Training Camp Presented by Verizon - Monday, August 13, 2018
A bit of a shorter practice today, did you get the tempo and the work that you'd like?
"I thought it was okay. I didn't think it was particularly one of our better days. I thought it was a little sloppy. It started out that way. The plan was to get into some more team drills to be specific, they'll be off tomorrow and we'll get started again on Wednesday."
Was it the plan to keep it a little shorter today?
I apologize if you've been asked this before but, Devaroe Lawrence, what about him made you guys interested in him and have patience with him?
"He had a pretty good college resume. We felt he was athletic, explosive and we felt like he could recover (from the injury he suffered late in the 2016 season at Auburn). In other words, he was battling an injury and we saw traits that are hard to find, sometimes for defensive tackles. It's hard to find that position especially after the draft. He was a guy that had production and we kind of liked some of the things we saw, he rehabbed well this offseason, he worked at it and now he's having a chance at battle out here."
[Benjamin] Watson seemed pretty active today, how has his performance in camp been compared to what you expected?
"He missed some days, so it was good to see him catch a few balls. For him, it's still getting back into playing condition."
What traits jump out about [Shane] Vereen?
"He is smart (and) a good receiver out of the backfield. Those would be some strengths. He knows what to do, I think he's good in protection."
With the preseason game under your belly, is it easier to get your point across what you want to do in practice compared to just practice film?
"We're Saints on Saints today. In other words, Arizona will start when they get back (on Wednesday from the day off Tuesday) but you're still in a training camp mode. Yes, you'll have film now to look at when the time comes to prepare these guys for the next game, but there's still a lot of fundamental things that we have to do better."
You had team movie night last night?
"Just in the afternoon, a little activity after practice."
You have three guys that have been head coaches in the NFL, [Dan] Campbell, [Dennis] Allen and Mike Nolan, what tangibles do they bring to your staff?
"Each one is a little different. I worked with Dan before, obviously at the end of his career he played here, but we were together in New York when he was a player and we were together in Dallas when he was a player. I've tried to hire him before and it's a little bit more challenging when he's under contract somewhere else. There's a toughness and an element about him that's very impressive and being around him as much as I have been that was an easy decision. In Mike Nolan's case, there is a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball. We certainly knew him as a head coach at San Francisco, but long before that he was at Washington when I was at the Giants and I think it has been a real good sounding board for Dennis who is another guy that is thinking with regards to past experience. Dennis Allen was with us in the very beginning and then got his opportunity to go coordinate and then become a head coach, so that prior experience helped me certainly with the decision to hire him (re-hire him in 2015). Hopefully, and I have said this before, when you are putting together a staff you're wanting to put together guys that are having opportunities to move on and I think we have a number of guys here currently on this staff that when the time comes will have those opportunities for them. The experience is one thing but also understanding the culture here. You know what we expect all of those things factor into it."
Sometimes head coaches are reluctant to bring on former head coaches. You haven't been that way. Why?
"I've never looked at it like that. I'm trying to get the best staff possible and I've never looked at it as something [like that]. I think that experience that ultimately they've done something well prior to becoming the head coach because that's what allowed him that opportunity so it's not a prerequisite either. It's not really been a lot of thought given when we're looking to hire a certain position. We'll spend time in the interview process and be kind of slow to go through what we think the strengths and weaknesses are and make the correct decision hopefully."
Does having guys with that experience help you come up with new ideas?
"Yes, there are a lot of times in staff meetings. You want to be brought in new thoughts and ideas. It's frustrating if you're asking for an opinion and It's just quiet. Fortunately, that's not the case. That environment I think is important."
As far as Garrett Griffin, where is he in his progression?
"I think he's become a little bit better blocker than we expected and he's still working on the passing game, but physically, he plays with good pad leverage and I think that area is something that he's improved and is doing real well. Then with regards to all the other things it's still a work in progress, but I think the one thing he does well is his block with leverage and he can protect."
Do you see him as a contributor on special teams?
"We'll see. Hopefully he's able to do one or two things. I think that's still to be determined."
I know that four preseason games are probably here to stay for a long time, but how many preseason games do you think you need to get a full evaluation of your guys?
"There is more to that question. Is it two games with three weeks of training camp? Is it two games with six weeks of training camp? If you were telling me we played this Friday and then cut the team down to 53 I would say that is not enough, and I do not think that is what you are asking. So, am I in favor of the current format? I think there is a handful of things that we will look closely at with regards to really the spring element of the schedule. Our training camp schedule works fine. We have a walk through, and we have a good full padded practice, and we prepare to play another game. But I think it's more about the days that you're practicing in camp, more than it is the actual contest. I don't know that they'd be ready to go to two (practices a day) and I really haven't given much thought about it right now. I know this, we have a lot of work to do and fortunately we have a good month here before we're playing our first game. So that's a good thing."
How much flexibility does it afford you guys to have linebackers that can play two or three different positions?
"We have a couple guys that can rush. They will play at the SAM and then come into a sub rush mode. Ultimately, at that position, you are starting three, maybe two because we have seen a lot of substituted offense personnel and you have to play on special teams. You have to be able to somehow, if you dress for a game, play 15-17 snaps with the numbers you have up on gameday. So that's important."