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Saints Coach Sean Payton talks about rookies

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean PaytonPost-Practice Rookie Camp AvailabilitySaturday, May 12, 2018

Opening statement:

“We are into our second day. Like every year, there are three or four groups of players. We have our draft picks, the free agents that we signed after the draft and then there is a large number of three-day trial players that are rookies. Then the league allows five veteran trial players. So that is what our numbers consist of. There are a handful of players that have been with us that are eligible that don’t have an accrued season.”

What are you looking for from the veteran trial guys?

“We have a vision for them. What kind of shape they are in? They have played so what do we think they can do to help us. We have (veteran tryout players at) a handful of positions, but we have had players (that we’ve signed). Billy Miller found his way onto the roster that way. So it is really about how quickly they’re getting up to speed, the same evaluation that is taking place with the rest of the players.”

Can you get a grasp of the guys’ learning curves?

“We tell them that these are the things that are important. Do they know what to do, that is important. They’re in a crash course if you will on getting adjusted to the terminology. Then how quickly are they learning what to do and are they doing what we’re trying to teach them. It is the beginning part of the process, with just three days certainly if you’re a trial player, there’s X amount of pressure to catch someone’s eye, but every year we’ve seen it. We always in the first meeting talk to them about the procurement part of it and getting here. Then at that point, how you got here is really unimportant to us. What is important to us is what you see and trying to be fair to the evaluation process.”

What did you guys like about J.T. Barrett?

“There is a leadership presence about him. He is in an athlete. He has played a lot of competitive football and he has handled this camp very well. (He has) A lot of the things that you look for in that position. He was certainly worthy of being drafted and he has done a good job here.”

What are some of the adjustment for someone like Will Clapp as a center coming into the league?

“I’d say the multitude of fronts and maybe the size. In this camp, he’s receiving an introduction to everything from pointing out the Mike, to the protections and how we call them. But the responsibilities increase a little bit with this next level and the size of the players.”

What do you look for in a quarterback?

“How accurate is he? Does he complete passes in time? Does he get through his progressions? How quickly does he learn? Can he get to the huddle and call the play? Can he handle the cadence? His ability to ingest, process and go ahead and take it to the field.”

How was the tight end (Deon) Yelder such a key target for you guys in undrafted free agency?

“He’s big and he can run, he’s done pretty well here for the first two days, so his speed and some of his times were good. We think he catches the ball well. We have to work (with him) and get up to speed a little bit in the blocking”

I saw Zach Strief out there, how much involvement is he going to have with this team even in retirement as a player?

“That’s a good question, he didn’t know (where to go), he tiptoed around and stayed on the blacktop like he was one of you guys (media members), so we gave him an all-access pass for now. I think he likes being around it and I think he likes helping; even when he was playing, regardless of what the position was (where he could help instruct), if it was a position of another right tackle he would help so it’s good to see him out here.”

What about (Nate) Wozniak? What made you want to see if he could work at an O-line after he played tight end in college?

“He has the length. He has the stature. We didn’t feel like he was a tight end prospect and its nothing against the o-line, but that’s kind of your last stop, but I do like his length and I think he can develop. I think he can put on weight. He has the athleticism, so we’ll just keep working with him and getting him reps. He’s handled it well”

Is this a situation where you watch his blocking tape or did you work him out as an O-lineman?

“It’s kind of all of the above, watching a player you have trouble reading him at the position he’s currently playing and then you begin to think outside the box, our league has shown historically that we have a number of guys that have played tight end that have gone on to play offensive line.”

With the Mark Ingram situation, there’s going to be some evaluation of the running backs from last year. What do you like about Jonathan Williams?

“Jonathan Williams was scouted last year from Arkansas (when he played college football there prior to entering the NFL). That’s one of the reasons why we went ahead and signed him to our active roster. We thought he had real good vision and balance. There will be a handful of other guys competing for those touches. Certainly you miss something with a guy like Mark Ingram in those early weeks, but I think for us it’s going to be evaluating that whole position and determining who can handle some of that role because the mistake would be that Alvin (Kamra) gets 15 more carries and that’s not the direction we are expected to go and I think that is wise.”

Was Boston Scott drafted primarily as a running back? I know a lot of those late round picks are players expected to contribute on special teams.

“He was drafted as a running back. We worked him out, we saw his tape, we feel like he’s someone that can handle the running game and he’ll be one we’ll have a chance to look at. He’ll also be one we look at as a punt returner and a specialist, but I would have to say he’s a runner first.”

How has (Marcus) Davenport looked?

“He’s doing well, he’s working on the right side, he’s receiving a lot of work on his stance, he played in the two-point quite a bit a year ago, but he’s doing well.”

How much have you seen of Boston Scott this weekend? He didn’t look like he was participating today.

“He cramped up at practice yesterday, so he’ll practice this afternoon, but he went the other day, so he’s doing well.”

Was the Coby Fleener decision something that was coming all offseason that you guys had to kind of wait for him to get cleared?

“Well, I don’t know that I would say that. He’s still working through the process of getting cleared and he’s still working through being without symptoms, but I also felt like for the team it was something that was going to be best for us.”

How much of a gut punch was the suspension for Mark Ingram?

“It happens in our league. We receive the same notice when him and his agent are receiving the notice and you deal with it. It goes under PED’s but I know Mark well enough to know it wasn’t a performing enhancing drug. He’ll better be able to explain the other parts of it, but it happened with Willie (Snead when he was suspended) last year, so you adjust like it would be an injury.”

Is it frustrating that he hasn’t been participating in the offseason program?

“No. Listen, we spoke a couple times before the offseason program started, and it is what it is. He’ll know what to do. Now do I think he should be here? Yes, but it’s optional and we’ll see him at the minicamp.”

Do you expect anything to change with his contract status?

“No.”

Will you look to bring in a veteran running back?

“Right now no, I wouldn’t say. We are constantly looking at who’s available but I’m anxious to evaluate the guys that we have here and our numbers here right now.”

Adrian Peterson told the NFL Network, that he would be open to returning to New Orleans. Is there any interest in an option like that?

“This gets back to the notion that we had any argument in Minnesota. There was none. I think a ton of him, and that would be the part where if all of sudden we decided ‘hey, we’re going to look at additional players that are on the street, his name, there will be a few others. We have him on a board right now, who’s available; veteran running backs stacked on a board graded, but he’s a tough player, warrior, and a great worker and we had a good relationship.”

Do you plan to put Marcus Davenport in a three-point stance or are you going to experiment and see what works best?

“He’ll play in a three, and there’ll be times where we stand him up I’m sure. The key is the leverage and the technique but he’s handling it well. He’s long.”

How much information is actually asked of the guys to digest considering it is a three-day camp?

“Quite a bit. We are mindful. We want to see them know what to do, so we don’t want to see a ton of mental mistakes. So the installation might be a little different than the installation in the vet camp certainly would be. So you are trying to give them things that are basics in what you do defensively and offensively so that you have a chance to evaluate rather than ‘Ah I can’t evaluate because he didn’t know what to do. I say that the concern that we have all the time is that one or two of these tryout guys end up somewhere else doing well, so receiving a good evaluation on the players that are here and trying to look at what they are doing well and how they are picking things up and so that you can arrive a better decision (is important).”

How unique is the situation with Tyrunn Walker participating as a tryout player, obviously a guy you’ve had before, finding a spot?

“It’s good to see him. He’s versatile. He’s a little heavy right now. He hasn’t missed many crawfish boils, but he’ll receive a chance to drop some weight. He’s smart.”

The rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith, what have you seen from him?

“He’s long. He’s athletic in and out of his cuts. (He) Still needs to work on his lower body strength but he’s handled the install well. I think he’s a quick study. He’s big and he’s doing a good job.”

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