The Saints returned to the practice field today for a two hour workout. Following practice, Saints coach Sean Payton discussed the signing of DT Kendrick Clancy, a review of Sunday's win over San Diego, an injury report and his viewpoints of the looming final cuts
"We signed Kendrick Clancy and today was his first day of practice at defensive tackle. A couple of guys didn't practice today, Stanley Arnoux with his ankle, Pierson Prioleau with a knee from the game, Zach Strief with a knee, (Jonathan) Vilma with his groin and then our two PUP players, Clint Ingram and Darren Sharper."
Where was Vilma during practice?
"Vilma went to Philadelphia, basically had an exam with (Dr.) Meyers, will be flying back tonight. Certainly no surgery, just a chance for him to look at it. We'll start his rehab. We'll go from there."
Is there anyway to project Jonathan's rehab?
"No. Certainly he'll be out this week. I think that we're optimistic that he's going to be able to start up practice when we get back on Sunday of next week, but we're going to have to spend a lot of time here in the next six or seven days with treatment and all the things necessary."
Does Jonathan not having surgery constitute good news?
"Yes. We knew before he flew out this morning that the type of injury he had was not going to be a sports hernia surgery. It's really more the lower abductor groin area. The key was just having another set of eyes on it to confirm what we found and basically set the plan in place for the rehab."
How about Pierson Prioleau's and Zach Strief's condition?
"They should be fine. It will be day to day with those two. Both of them, here are two or three days later doing well with the rehab."
How important is it for guys to shine at the safety position with people on the bubble and on special teams?
"There are a lot of decisions coming up. Special teams factors in tremendously . you get to the game with an x number of backers, corners and safeties. What kind of contribution are you going to get from those players in the kicking game."
Did Jimmy Graham look good?
"His first day back was decent. He's a little rusty and still we have to be careful to not take a setback, but it was good to have him on the field."
Is this your favorite week of the preseason knowing you're getting down to crunchtime and have some decisions to make
"I would say for me it's one of the least favorite times of the year, because really a week from now we have a lot of tough decisions to make and a lot of these players have been with us since April in the offseason program and some of them on last year's team. That's' the hardest part of the calendar year, the last week of preseason games where you have your final roaster cutdown. That never gets easier or you never get used to that. I think it's always one of the tough things about this job."
Is Kendrick Clancy's signing about depth or not being happy with the defensive tackle position?
""No, I think it's a chance to really look at the player coming off of last year's injury. He's a guy that prior to his injury, even looking at the cut ups last year did some good things."
Is this a potential ready list type of evaluation in the event you can't carry him on the 53-man roster?
"That could be the case where we get a look. The key is how's his knee holding up and how does he feel. He had a good workout yesterday and he's a player that if healthy can give you some good snaps, especially on early downs, because he plays the run very well."
What's it look like for the two players on the physically unable to perform list?
""Right now you really go day by day and you're always looking for positive progress. I would say in both cases last week it was the first week where all of a sudden we saw both with Clint (Ingram) and with Darren (Sharper) progress in their workouts. How does that pertain to Tennessee's game? There would be no definite decision but we did feel like they began to turn a corner last week."
Do their pasts buy them a little time?
""The time is really the final roster cutdown. You can't extend that. There would be no reason to do anything until it comes time until that spot when you really have to make decisions, so with both those players, it's a lot of rehab and it's a constant balance of doing a little more and backing off the next day and then trying to make that progress."
What would be a drawback to putting these guys on the regular season PUP list?
"A drawback might be you might think in two or three weeks they're ready to play. A drawback then would be they're on the PUP list for six weeks and then the seventh week you play a game. One drawback would be that they're going to be ready prior to when the PUP finishes. That would be one example of the decision and weighing those options. There are three things that take place. One scenario is PUP. The other is active roster and the other is neither of those two which isn't good, but that would be one of the drawbacks with Darren and Clint. You feel like they're closer to playing and you have to wait longer to get the services."
Could you take them off PUP in camp and then put them back on PUP on Saturday?
"No. For a player to go on PUP, they have to be on PUP in their camp."
With Jonathan Vilma out this week, who besides Marvin Mitchell plays in the middle?
"It would be Marvin and Anthony Waters also. You'll see him play inside and we get into the nickel in some other situations. We'll have to be smart."
Will Drew Brees play in this game?
"We'll see. If he does it will be very limited."
Going back to Jonathan Vilma and Usama Young previously having sports hernias, do you worry about them more in terms of recurrence?
"No, I don't think there's any correlation of a prior sports hernia being more susceptible to a second one. This injury's different in Jon's case than the prior sports hernia for instance."
Are you guys in walk through and game planning mode for week one now?
"Today was work against each other. Tomorrow will be work against each other. Wednesday will be a walk through for the Titans and then we get into Minnesota when we get back."
What are your thoughts after watching the film on Friday?
"I thought the effort level was good. I was pleased with the coverage units. I thought we were markedly different there and they did a real good job. It was good to see a lot of players get a lot of snaps. Some of these guys we were talking about got a lot of work the other night, whether you're talking about (Junior) Galette, Chris Ivory or Charles Brown. You could go up and down the boards with young players we're trying to get a look at, linebackers the same way. Usama Young received a lot of work. Overall there were a lot of things on tape. I told the players this morning that it was very encouraging. We have to pay attention to the penalties. We have to pay attention to two big returns that when you take the yardage lost…You're going to be out on the 48 yard line and you're starting out on the 11, because of a penalty. That's a difference of a number of yards. There's some hidden yardage in the game that we have to look closely at. That's one area we talked about cleaning up. Studying last year's penalty report and where we finished in the league, we were the eighth fewest penalized team in the league last year. Currently we're the sixth most penalized team in preseason. I know it's preseason, yet we have to get it corrected.
What are you trying to see from Junior Galette when you put him in earlier?
"It's one thing to rush late in the game, but you want to see him rush against some of the better competition to get a true measurement of where we see his skill set. We tried to give him valuable snaps. He and Bobby (McCray) both got a lot of nickel snaps earlier than later in that game. It's trying to get against a little better completion."
How would you describe the swing pass play to Chris Ivory?
"It was a good play. It was a very good play in that we really didn't block the first guy that we were trying to account for so, he made him miss and then had enough acceleration, even down inside the 20, he was able to use his stiff arm. There were a lot of positive things about that play. Clearly it was an exciting play. You hope games like that provide that confidence for a young player and you watch the tape and say there are five things where we say, "Chris, we have to get this cleaned up. We didn't necessarily do this the right way." But those are things you can build on."
What are some of the variables that will go into your thinking of if you will keep two or three quarterbacks on the roster?
"I think to answer your question. There's an equation of six or seven different things that go into that division. How many receivers are you taking to the roster. How many halfbacks and corners? You begin to really weigh about six or seven different decisions that may or may not affect your quarterback depth. Ultimately if you're comfortable and feel good about three then you're smart enough where you take three. You don't use it as a flexible position that could go either way. I think you try to pay attention to if you have two or three. That's what we'll do.
Do you work back towards that based on other positions or do you start with the quarterbacks and whittle down?
"No, I think you begin to talk about all six or seven of these spots and weight the plusses or minus and go from there."
Can you talk about how Garrett Hartley and Thomas Morstead have solidified your specialists group?
"They're two young guys with a lot of talent. Both of them had impressive seasons a year ago. Each came here a little different way. When you talk about Garrett Hartley, he came when we worked out five kickers midway through the season a couple years ago. Fortunately for us he was available. He had gone to a camp with Denver. We brought him in and he did a good job. With Thomas, he was someone we had seen kick in college we felt was strong enough to draft him and he's come in and really done well. We could go back and a lot of people questioned trading to draft a punter. If it's the right selection it works out. In his case it's worked out.
Looking at both of them did they raise their games in the postseason?
"I think both of them have bright futures. They both, first have strong legs. They're very athletic. They're very focused. There is a lot of confidence in our team in how these guys play."
Do you hope that you can get the coverage units turned around because of the strength of these guys?
"Number one, you have to look closely. Are you looking at the coverage units from a season ago or the preseason. I tried to explain a little bit, in the preseason you're really rotating a lot of guys into the lineup. Last year, during a three game playoff run the coverage units were outstanding. The key is really finding that balance of who your core special teams guy are, who might play on special teams that are starters offensively and defensively and putting your best guys out there. I think certainly that's going to be an important aspect as we had into 2010.
Can you talk about if you're at a point that you're confident there won't be a huge drop-off if Malcolm Jenkins starts at free safety?
"I think certainly when you move from a veteran player to a younger player like Malcolm at that position, there's a learning curve and yet to his credit he's worked very hard. These reps he's gotten in training camp and preseason games have been very valuable for him and he's someone that has very good football I.Q. He's very smart and is a very hard worker. He's handling the transition well. Certainly a veteran like Darren (Sharper) with his experience brings another skill set to the table from the snaps he's had. The key isn't continuing to work with Malcolm and get him up to speed. He's progressing.
Have you gotten any more clarity in the positioning of referees?
"Nothing yet. They're spending more time on it. I haven't shared anything more. I know currently what the plan is. I think they're meeting and spending time on possible adjustments, but there hasn't been any changes. It's just working through the time it takes to spot the ball with the umpire being in the backfield, compared to the umpire being at the linebacker."
Does that give the defense an edge?
"It could potentially change tempo, which would help the defense in certain situations and hinder the offense."
Do you have the same privilege to complain to the league office about this?
"It's not really a complaint. You talk and try to give your thoughts on maybe what we see happening now. Here are the challenges with the current format. Where are the quarterback's eyes? They're on the play clock. They're on the safety. They're on the linebacker. They're moving the receive up and off and they're going to the side judge and that's one aspect that's different."
Did you make your feelings known to the league office?
"Yes, but not in a public manner. I think to some degree it's a little bit of a work in progress. I you have an offense that can change tempo, this can potentially hinder that and you just have to work your way through it."