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Sean Payton: "Jonathan Vilma is doing well"

Quotes from Sean Payton post-practice press conference on Thursday, October 31, 2013.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Opening Statement: "Our normal practice today with our third down being the emphasis.  Any questions?"

How impressed have you been with Keenan Lewis?

"He's been consistent.  He has very good length.  He's handled the amount of man-to-man we've played, which is quite a bit and done very well.  There have been games where we put him on certain receivers and other games where we've stayed right and left.  I think it has been a real good acquisition for us."

How much did you value his size considering how big receivers are?

"I think there were two players we were looking at, both had length.  But I think with Keenan, you saw someone who is comfortable with ball skills so I think there is a premium on that because of some of the receivers, start with our division and size of the receivers in our division that can be just sometimes problematic when there is a jump ball.  Kenny Stills' jump ball last week was an example of that."

The Jets are minus 12 in in turnover ratio, how normal is that?

"I think, and I mentioned this yesterday, we went through the tape today and we pulled out a bunch of caused fumbles by their defense and one thing that stands out that is unusual is to have that many forced fumbles and yet only a handful of recoveries.  So there have been a lot of opportunities where the offense had been able to retain possession.  I think just a few more of those and that number wouldn't be as tilted where it is right now.  They've certainly been able to get the ball out and for whatever reason just hasn't been able to recovery as many.  I think you are pleased if you coaching that like all teams are that the ball is being punched out, the ball is being stripped.  They do a good job in the pocket with the quarterback.  Those guys rushing the passer all have a knack for getting their off hand on the quarterback's throwing arm and separating the ball from the quarterback.  That is something that they are very good at."

Is Jonathan Vilma eligible to be activated at any time now?

"Yes beginning this week and then the last day we have to do something by the Monday after next weekend's game.  So it would be not this Monday but the following Monday."

He has that three week window?

"I just know that the Monday after Dallas is the final day that we have to make a decision."

So you could activate him as late as Saturday?

"Any time this week all the way until that Monday."

How is Vilma practicing?

"He is doing well.  He is receiving reps.  It is just a matter of getting back into football playing shape.  He is someone that is a quick study so he knows what we are doing."

Was the decision close on whether to keep him or not?

"The uncertainty was the procedure and yet we felt pretty good after the spring.  I think we spent some time on it but I think we really felt like it was important for our team to see this through.  The good news is he's going to work extremely hard at anything he does.  I know he worked very hard on the rehab element of coming back and strengthening his leg.  So that is a credit to him, but I am glad we were able to do that. And I think that is a good rule change, something I think that teams can benefit from."

When you are making a decision on that or bringing Mark (Ingram) along slowly, how much is that based on the expectation you know will most likely be playing in January against a team that may be having a difficult fight every game?

"I say this with all respect to your question, I don't ever think about I know we are going to be playing in the postseason.  We don't look at it that way.  We look at is the player healthy?  Last week was a great example, Jimmy Graham.  If we feel like he is and we are not putting the player at risk and he has enough reps where he can execute then he will play.  He is not going to hurt the team by being in there. And at the same time we are going to be very judicious and cautious if we feel like the player can further hurt himself and not be able to perform.  So we take that approach and where each game would be, the game we have to win to get into a playoff situation.  Now there is a scenario farther down the road in the season where, and we have done this before where we have sat starters when there had been seeds that have been secured.  But we aren't even at the half way point yet.  So we don't look at it that way."

Do you attribute your success in November to anything?

"I don't know specifically other than the process we followed.  We really work hard at trying to make the corrections and even if we are coming off a game where we won and there are things we need to get cleaned up and corrected, I think every team does that.  It probably gets back to the really good Novembers probably go back to really good teams.  Without knowing off hand how 2007 or 2008 what our record was in November, it probably wasn't as good as 2006, 2009, and 2011 and the same thing would go for 2012.  Again, for us we really do try just compartmentalize.  There are too many variables in this league and teams can start off and do well and all of a sudden not do well and vice versa.  You have seen Super Bowl winners now that maybe didn't play well early in the season that played well later on.  And we have seen teams start fast and then struggle so it is a week to week challenge of trying to as best as you can that opponent and that game plan and the players that will be involved in that game that are healthy."

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