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Sean Payton discusses Tuesday's roster moves

Quotes from Sean Payton's post-practice press conference on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Presented by Verizon Media Availability
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Opening Statement: "These players have been waived: QB Logan Kilgore, CB Rod Sweeting, ILB Kevin Reddick, OLB Rufus Johnson, T Manase Foketi, (and) DE George Uko.  And then these contracts have been terminated: TE Travis Beckum and OLB Victor Butler.  That puts us at 75.  Today was more some of the points of emphasis, Saints-on-Saints.  Tomorrow we will shift gears a little bit towards Baltimore."

Can you talk about the decision making with Victor Butler?

"The challenge was just the reps and not having the reps needed to evaluate.  We had a long talk yesterday and look, he is frustrated I'm sure, just because (of) the early injury and then the setback this year in training camp after the rehab.  It is always difficult especially when a player doesn't really have a chance to put his best foot forward."

Can you talk about how you thought he was coming in as a starter last year and how it's been a rough year for him?

"Absolutely, you go out and you sign a player like him, you have a role you envision and it didn't work out."

With the kicking competition is it almost a gut feeling?

"Ultimately, we will spend, we've already spent time on it and both of those guys, to their credit, and I say this, both of them are going to be kicking this season.  I think other teams see us as a place that has a kicker possibly that is good enough to play for them.  We don't have a time frame on it so we will see and go through this game Thursday and then make a decision."

Bringing back Victor Butler to practice yesterday, was the thought process let's just see one last look?

"Yes, number one, we would never, typically we wouldn't release the 11 on a Sunday.  Our plan all along was on Monday afternoon, but you are trying to get as much information as possible with regards to these decisions.  He is not the only one.  There are a handful of players that were on last year's roster, both with Rod (Sweeting) and Kevin (Reddick) that have been in battles.  None of them are easy decisions and it is one of the challenges always this time of the year."

Kevin Reddick was a surprise to me.

"We don't get to a point in the preseason, especially week three where we are trying to play them all and really get as much confirmation as to where we might be headed to a decision.  The game we just played is one of the three preseason games.  It would be very normal for us to look at every snap individually on close decisions just strictly look up on the computer, which we can do know, every snap played offensively kicking game, defensively kicking game, and then just watch one player and watch his activity.  That's helpful to do that and so all of those games represent, well to this point, a third of the games themselves and then also, you are really looking closely at how practice has gone."

Did the release of the linebackers speak well to the opposite guys like Kyle Knox, Ronald Powell, Kasim Edebali, guys who are playing well?

"Is it better to still be here or be released?"

Is there anyone is that group that is worth pointing out?

"I think there are some young guys, look, (Kasim) Edebali is a guy that has been productive and around the ball.  (Ronald) Powell is growing and learning.  Khairi Fortt is nicked up and so, (we are) trying to get him healthy.  And that may not be possible with the way it looks now.  Yes, we are trying to put these guys in as many opportunities for us to see them in space, as a pass rusher if you will, in the kicking game and really the kicking game would be the first avenue for a guy that is not a starter.  Because the question we have to ask after this upcoming game is, once we are at 53, well who's 46  for Atlanta?  It is not a great thing for a linebacker to be inactive the first eight weeks of the season and not contributing.  Greg (McMahon) and Stan (Kwan), we are looking at how are we getting them to the game and how valuable are their snaps there.  That's a plus for a guy like Josh Hill, tight end that can play in the kicking game and not just function, but actually be an asset as opposed to a liability.  That's something."

Was Victor Butler's injury related to the knee?

"It was different.  He recovered from the knee (injury)).  Look, he was battling through and working and again, I think he was rehabbing well.  I think all of those things and I am sure, just in our discussions yesterday that he will have another opportunity.  He is healthy and just from a timing standpoint, it is hard."

Was it good to get Drew Brees back today?

"Yes, he is doing well.  Congratulations to both he and Brittany.  A few days (earlier), probably about a week ago, Ben Grubbs and his wife had a baby.  There is something in the water."

Have you made any quarterback rotation decisions yet?

"We haven't established it yet, I know this though, you're going to see a lot of Ryan (Griffin) and you're going to see Luke (McCown) as well.  Outside of that, we haven't really sat down.  Tonight we usually have that meeting and go through the roles."

Does your heart go out to these guys when they work so hard coming back from injuries?

"Every year it is difficult because look, they have been with us, a lot of them, all through the winter, spring and minicamps.  Look, it is the hard thing about it.  That never changes.  You just hope they receive another opportunity and have another chance."

It looks like you had Jairus Byrd as the punt protector in practice, is that something you think he can do?

"Absolutely, he is smart, can cover, can run, absolutely.  Now whether he'd be the starting, he is someone that will certainly be in that depth, yes."

What have you seen from Patrick Robinson?

"He's healthy now.  I think he's gaining confidence with the hamstring.  He is moving.  This will be another good evaluation this game."

Does this game have any bearing on the (Luke) McCown-(Ryan) Griffin competition?

"They are all important. If the prior games were important, this one is important as well."

Do you have a sense of Brandin Cooks' learning curve and is it what you've expected?

"His role and each week, how it unfolds is to be determined but I think he learns well.  I think considering he missed some time because of his graduation date at Oregon State, I think he's picked things up fairly quickly and yet there are a lot of little things with regards to the position.  But I would say that from a learning standpoint it's a plus."

Where are you in the decision with the center position?

"Here's what I don't want to do, and obviously there's the various positions, there's the quarterback position, the kicker position, the center position, what I don't want to do on a Tuesday is talk about who might be or may not be playing ahead of the other player.  I think at the right time we will announce this is how we see our starting lineup, but both of those players have been productive in camp and I said yesterday, they are both different players obviously and they also have position flexibility."

What are your thoughts on the active roster inactive list?

"The only discussion I can recall would be, the practice squad has gone to 10 (players) but is 53 the number?  So far that hasn't been pushed really heavily in any direction.  What has been played around with on 46 is a few years ago you have the third quarterback that would not count and they did away with that and so 46 is the number regardless of position.  Look, it is setup obviously for the team that has four injuries week one versus the team that has one that the same amount of healthy bodies are available.  I don't know if there's a perfect science to it, but I know that expanding the practice squad and also being able to bring a player off a protected injured reserve helps.  I think those are things they talk about all the time and they look at the numbers and try to use studies as far as the average injuries per team at any given season.  I think overall we're fairly healthy right now as a group of 75 if you will at this time of the season.  The key is to stay sharp and continue to improve because we're by no means a finished product and yet stay healthy.  But we're in shoulder pads today and some of the drills were more physical than others."

Do you all evaluate competitiveness in players?

"Absolutely, it is harder to evaluate when the player hasn't arrived on campus yet.  In other words, so it's a college draft or a free agent, that's information that is tougher to get.  Now, a scout who is on the road who has been on the campus two or three times, who's talked to some of the people, and then generally there are some positions that can show up on film but there are others that don't.  Now, internally once they are here it is easier to measure, it is easier to measure their responses because it is not just from a 20 foot camera, it's things that even you guys would hear and see and observe, that we would hear, see and observe, but there is a high value on that I think just as there is on intelligence.  I think it is extremely important.  And it is also on us to create those environments.  It is okay to have winners and losers."

Do you beat Drew Brees in any of these competitions?

"Oh the one's that are like throwing a ping pong ball in a fish bowl.  Plinko would have been a good one.  That was a major.  That was one of the four majors."

Who won the quarterback challenge?

"I think it is ongoing, but there is a handful of us that aren't on the FedEx Cup standings.  We are like others, that would be us.  Every once and a while we get one that suits us, but it is generally something where the ball is traveling below your waist."

Can you say what body part it was on Victor Butler?

"Listen, he went through an ankle.  It was just a matter of getting it to where he felt like it was 100 percent.  It just finally came around and that was it."

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