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Sean Payton impressed with setup and crowd at Mandeville High practice

Video and quotes form Sean Payton's Wednesday's press conference

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Media Availability
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Opening Statement:
"I thought it was a good change of pace coming up here.  I thought the tempo was good.  The field was in real good condition.  I know they are having a scrimmage tomorrow on it and obviously it was well attended.  We were real pleased. I thought our guys handled it well and I thought just the turn out was real impressive."

Is it just fun to be out in this atmosphere in Mandeville?

"I think it changes things up.  I think nighttime, it is a little cooler.  Look you pull up and guys are in the locker room and a lot of these young guys aren't too far removed from being in a high school locker room themselves.  I think it was really good. I thought the atmosphere when we got here was really impressive when you saw, you really don't know what the turnout is going to be, but obviously it was a real good turnout.  Yes, I thought it was good for our players."

You have a quick turn around time for tomorrow, will that change your schedule?

"Yeah, we are going 8:30.  Tomorrow focuses shift to Indianapolis.  I think we will be smart about how we handle the practice.  We will be inside.  Look, by the time we get home and guys get back to where they are sleeping, it might be a half an hour later than the normal training camp schedule.  But I feel like we will handle that alright.  We will be smart about it."

Have you seen any rust with Drew Brees?

"I don't know.  I thought he looked pretty sharp tonight.  There were a handful of throws that were exceptional.  You guys saw him gradually kind of working his way back into throwing the ball full speed and the only thing you can't simulate is just the snaps and being in team drills.  I think we've handled it the right way and he is pretty smart and he knew where he was at and my concern was we had set our mind on a game maybe and that really shouldn't dictate his healing.  Now it happened to be that he feels ready to go.  I am sure he is going to play and we will figure out how many snaps in this game but he looked pretty sharp tonight."

Are you impressed with how quickly Jairus Byrd has come back?

"He is another guy tonight that got his hands on a couple of balls. One of them was a really good play.  That is encouraging and he too I would say aside from, there has been a number of stuff he has been doing, seven-on-seven, position drills so it's been a step process, a little bit longer, obviously for Jairus but it was good to have him out there in the team tonight.  He is someone that covers a lot of ground quickly.  He is real smart with his eyes and he's a veteran player that understands formations and where the ball might be going."

Can you talk about how a one-handed interception is something you don't see too often?

"Typically with a safety like that, it starts with the first step and anticipation.  You can have great speed and ball skills, but if your anticipation is a step slow, then you find yourself a step away from a player.  Tonight there were a couple of plays where the quarterbacks just commented, where did he come from?  And so, when you play someone like that your eyes have to be down the field and we've played a few of those elite safeties that do a good job with their eyes and study formations."

Could Champ Bailey possibly be ready to play in this game?

"We'll see.  I think he's making progress.  One of the things we talked about was tomorrow would be an important day to see how some of these guys did following tonight's practice"

Same thing for Keenan Lewis?

"Yeah, same thing for Keenan.  We will see.  Tomorrow is Thursday and we are not playing until Saturday so we still have time.  We will be smart but we are going to evaluate all of those guys and then the bigger question is how many reps."

Do you need to see them all on the field together before the start of the season?

"Listen, you may or may not have a choice.  I just think the key is getting them healthy and getting them ready to go.  We still have a long ways to go before we get started.  We are in camp all week next week."

Would you play that group in a fourth preseason game?

"Yeah, well I don't know if it would be the group in general.  It wouldn't have to be the group in general.  It might be different on how you are handling the defense line, but yeah, we played starters in the fourth preseason game before yes, absolutely, if they haven't gotten the reps maybe that the others have."

How would you assess the camp that Jimmy Graham has had?

"I think he has been good.  I think he has been real solid.  He is in good shape.  He came in in great shape.  He's doing well.  Last week obviously he had some big plays for us and we just keep progressing.  He is doing well.  We are working hard on a couple of specific areas but he's handled that well."

Can you talk about Pierre Thomas and how he has a different role this year and really taking it in stride?

"Listen, every year we describe his role and at some point in the season it shifts.  But he is someone that knows our protections well.  He is someone that handles the sub-offense well whether we are in third down or shotgun passing formations.  He is also someone that is an exceptionally smart player.  Each year there has been a game or two where all of a sudden he is doing more than just that and I don't feel like this season will be an exception.  You try to have a vision for a player and he understands a lot of the nuances and he did right when he got here.  One of his skill sets is being able to pick up protections and then physically block the blitz.  But each week it is important that that could change."

Is it still special coming back to this atmosphere?

"You just wish you could bring your team to more other areas.  One of the things Mickey (Loomis) and I just finished talking about is next year looking at bringing this type of practice to another region, another area.  You can't cover them all but there are so many different fans. I think when you have an evening practice also, it allows more families to be involved because school is out, work is over with and it is a little easier to plan around."

Is it a goal to be more unpredictable based on which running back is in the game?

"Look, it is a goal every offseason to try to become more well rounded as a running back.  I've seen Khiry's (Robinson) progress from last year to this year.  Would he be able to take more snaps maybe otherwise a year ago on plays that we may not have felt as certain about yet, yeah I would say that.  I think the same thing exists with each of them.  There is something that they do exceptionally well, but working on those other parts to making them a complete back is important."

Was that a challenge when you had four running backs?

"I think it is a good challenge.  We've always felt like you need to stack that position group up in this league.  It is a tough position and having quality runners that can handle not only the running game but the passing game and protection."

How tough is it to shift your operation somewhere else for a day?

"This wasn't bad at all.  This wasn't any different than high school where you grab your helmet and shoulder pads, you got on a bus and you went somewhere and you got off, you put them on.  So logistically this isn't a big transition.  It is the commute over, but I think the big difference is you went from a yellow bus to a little bit nicer bus."

What are your thoughts on the defensive line?

"I think there is good competition there, some of those backup positions.  I think it's a front that has a chance to be pretty salty.  I think that look, we have to clean up some of the penalties from last week but I know these guys that we are talking about on that front line group are guys with experience that can rush the passer and play the run equally as well.  They are going to be challenged early on.  Typically how your offensive line and how your defensive line especially early in the season can kind of set the tempo for you team."

Do you have memories of playing high school football when you come here?

"Yeah, I think there is a scent to the locker room.  I think there's a lot of things that, everyone that came out here tonight, I think thought for a second thought a little bit about where were they when they played in high school.  I think that is pretty common.  I like it.  I think it gets back to the people it inspired us to get into this profession and go on and play in college.  There's probably one, two, maybe even more than that, people at each high school where all of these guys came from that have a little part in where they are at now and pay close attention to where they are at now."

Can you talk about how big of an opportunity it is for Brandon Deaderick to be working with the ones?

"Typically with the rotation in the front, you will get some substitutional play and he is a guy that has come in, he's handled the reps well when Akiem (Hicks) sat earlier this week.  He got some reps there.   He's versatile.  We think that he can play both at the nose or the end position.  This game will be important for him as well.  I think we are getting to where you are seeing him get playing time.  He had a lot of it early on at the nose with (John) Jenkins' injury and now we will see his versatility."

Do you feel like he (Brandon Deaderick) has done a pretty good job filling in for John Jenkins?

"I thought he took advantage of those snaps.  Again, it is kind of ongoing with him. He is competing for a spot and I think he understands that."

Have you made a decision on whether Jairus Byrd will play or not Saturday?

"Yeah, I think we are planning on playing him.  I think the better question in regards to Jairus is how many snaps, but yeah, we are planning on playing him."

Photos from the New Orleans Saints practice at Mandeville High for 2014 Training Camp presented by Verizon on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Photos taken by Alex Restrepo (New Orleans Saints photos)

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