*New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Post-Practice Media Availability - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 *
“Today we handled a bunch of different situations, tried to clean up some stuff from the game and still try to get a good padded practice.”
Is it strange or unusual playing a team in the preseason that you’re facing in the regular season?
“I would say it happens maybe more often than you think. If we went back in 13 years, I'd say it probably happened six or seven times. We've actually practiced with the team and played them at a regular season game. So, I don't think it's that unusual. Those guys are going to be trying to get certain things done in their fourth game no different than us. There are certain things that are going to be important to us in this game.”
What is the message to a lot of these guys that are on the bubble?
“I think they understand the message and obviously the kicking game is important. It’s a final look and I've said this before, it's not just for the Saints but you're putting your product out there for all the other teams. So, when we were watching Austin Carr we saw his fourth preseason game, when we were watching Taysom Hill we saw him for preseason. Those are guys we claimed. I think it's important not only for the team you're competing with or competing to make, it's also important for the 31 other teams.”
What are you hoping to see from J.T. [Barrett] in this last preseason game?
“He’s been functioning well, he'll receive reps in this game. Just the ability to get in and out of the huddle and move the team, but he'll receive some good work.”
How has Cam Meredith picked things up?
“He's picked it up well. The key is just he's a little behind because of the injury, but he's moving around real well. He's a quick learner. So he'll receive quite a bit of work, guys that maybe haven't had the snaps because of injury. We’ll try to get (him) more snaps in this game.”
Are you looking at the same things for Marcus Davenport?
“Yes, same way. He would receive some work too. Those are guys (where) we have to give them reps.”
How did he do after looking at the tape?
“Not bad. He had some good plays, there's some things that he has to correct, his pad level was high which isn’t that unusual in his first game. He was active on a handful plays so it will be another good week for him and another game for him.”
What are some of the traits that make Alvin [Kamara] a good screen runner?
“I think he has good vision and patience. Generally, a good screen runner is pretty smart, so the looks can change. Sometimes it's a pressure look, sometimes a softer zone look but generally for him there aren't many times where he does something that surprises you and I think that's a good trait as a running back. I think having a little bit of savvy and football awareness goes into that.”
At this point in the process, what's the most difficult part of the evaluation process and splitting hairs with some of these players?
“That’s a good question. I think the vision, how we see ourselves using the player, how many snaps can we expect in a game and do they play on special teams. There's a lot that goes into it. There's a number of decisions that we're still working through.”
Is there a difference between deciding the 46 that play on gameday and those other seven?
“No. Those 46 though, when you go through this equation,it would be very normal at some point in the conversation as you discussed in the 53 to say, ‘who are we to expect to be up for Tampa Bay? Who would be on the inactive list?’That would be a normal question to ask in this process. It is not the first one, but it comes up.”
You’ve been looking at the way the new helmet rule has been enforced, does it surprise you at all?
“No. Clearly this past weekend it changed, and I think for the better. I think that the key and one of the objectives is to try to make the game simpler for the officials to officiate. So, I think that this past weekend we saw a little bit of a change in the specific plays that we're trying to eliminate versus maybe some of the gray area plays where guys are playing football and trying to do the right thing, and their helmets collide. I think that, and I said this at the beginning of the process, as we get into the season we're going to be better for the rule and I think it's going to be a little bit clearer and a little bit easier to officiate.”
How tough are the roster decisions when you have to maybe compare a draft pick to either a veteran that could help you this year, or an undrafted guy just knowing you want to see them all develop?
“All of that factors in. That's part of the equation, part of the challenge. Here we really try to go by what we see once they're here and that's all the practice tape, it's all the preseason game tape and then arrive at what we think is the best decision.”
Are you paying attention to guys on other rosters now or is it just your roster and then you will pay attention to guys on others for this game?
“That’s a great question. We’re evaluating every roster throughout the preseason. Our whole pro department will watch this whole week, the games that were just played and evaluate what they think might be players that come available. Now when Friday and Saturday come, and you get the final cutdowns, those are some long nights because there might be a few players that you're going to look at a profile tape on to see what you think. You only have really that one evening, but we do have grades on those players. Let's just say there's a rookie six round pick with team A that gets released, there’s a college grade on that player, but there would now be another grade based on what they've seen in the four preseason games.”
Your former right tackle said earlier today that this is the deepest roster you’ve ever had; do you agree with that?
“Well I have to ask you, it’s either [Jon] Stinchcomb or [Zach] Strief.”
You know who it is, it’s the most recent.
“It’s Strief? Oh alright. You know it's hard for me to recall.We've had depth at times, it’s certain positions I would agree with that and then at other positions I would disagree. You know there are certain positions maybe that I'd like to be further along with where we're at, and yet we're still developing. Without getting into the specifics, I think that following up on success from a year ago there's a few new additions. I think that it makes this week a more challenging week. And yet we'll see how this thing shapes up.”
How difficult is it to release a player that you know can play in the league, but you just don't have the numbers for?
“Look it's always difficult releasing any player and certainly good football players that have been here throughout the offseason program, players that may have been on the team a year ago. I mean it's always the hard part of what we do right now.”
What are some of the things that need to happen for the run defense for it to be where you want it?
“It starts with pad level and playing the defense correctly with the right gap. Today we had a little bit of an emphasis in the running game and we'll continue to do that. That's something that is technique, A, and B, assignment.”
How’s [Taylor] Stallworth so far?
He’s young, he’s athletic. He's a player that we think is developing, so we think he's still getting better. It's getting used to when you step up from maybe going with the seconds or the thirds and all of a sudden you're going against the first groups around the league, it becomes a little bit more challenging. He’s a young developing player.”
*I think around draft time one thing you said that stuck out to me was, one of the worst mistakes you can make is doubling down on a player that might not have lived up to the expectations that you have. *
“The point being, we have to pay attention to what we've seen and some of the best decisions we've made have been a free agent over a draft pick. That happened with Pierre Thomas, that's happened in a number of cases. So, we'll look at all those battles pretty closely and come up with the best decisions that we think help this team and the right 53.”
How does Thursday fit into the return game evaluation?
“It’s important. It's more snaps. More snaps to take a look at these guys.”
When you evaluate a mobile quarterback like Taysom [Hill], how do evaluate when he takes off and runs when maybe he should’ve found a guy downfield?
“I think one of the things we talked about going into this past game was, I don't want to discourage some of the things that he does very well, yet there's a part of the game coming to him and not pressing it each time. I thought he made some good decisions in the pocket, tight red zone, throw for a touchdown was a plus. The number one objective is to move the offense and it's not in one play. You have more than one play. He was better with ball security, we got the ball in the end zone a few times and there was a comfort level he had. I think that second game (he) hadn’t had the first one behind him, even with Tom[Savage] the same way. Both those guys I thought played better last week than the week prior.”