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Sean Payton on Thursday's Saints training camp practice

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Presented By Verizon Media Availability
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Opening Statement:

“Just a couple things with the practice schedule. The officials came in last night. It is typically this time of the year—training camp—where they will spend an evening meeting, updating the team on the rule changes for the upcoming season. Then, we will have them here for a couple of days, out at practice, communicating, (so we can understand) how they see certain calls. They will also go to the meetings when our players are watching tape this afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow and be able to answer questions in meetings. I don’t know that there have been a lot of significant rule changes. A few, but nonetheless, we have a good group here this week. In fact, a number of guys that have been in a lot of postseason games.”

Compared to past training camp practices where we’ve seen live goal line, it seems like you did a few more drills there?

“One of the things we wanted to do was try to create some of those game-like situations, and rather than just one live scrimmage on Saturday, you’ll see—not at every practice, but you’ll see some live football. Today was a run period in the red area. A lot of it is based on what the emphasis is and what we want to get from that specific period. We had, I think, four or five team periods today. I thought we got some good work in. I thought the energy was good. We’ll have a chance now to make the corrections on film like we normally would.”

What did you think of it? There were a couple of long runs, not on the red zone runs but on the other side of the field.

“Some of the runs, you want to get up and see the tape. Was there a gap missed? Again, there’s a little bit of an ebb and flow where the defense all of a sudden will have a series of four to eight plays, offensively the same way. The one thing that stood out, I thought the runners, all of them, had some good plays. (Daniel) Lasco, (Marcus) Murphy, (Travaris) Cadet, (Mark) Ingram, the group in general, I thought, they had some good carries and some good snaps.”

What is your vision for Daniel Lasco?

“You heard me say it. One of the things, in our evaluation, that we saw was someone that could cover kicks. But, he has exceptional speed burst. He was injured his last year at Cal. So the vision would be a young running back who, ‘Hey, what are the things we feel like he can do?’ We’re still learning a little bit about, as a runner, what his strengths are. I think, based on the special teams film that I saw, I think he’s going to be a guy that’ll be willing and pretty effective in playing some. When you get a running back who can cover and do some of those things, that’s a big plus.”

Was this a planned day off for Keenan (Lewis) or did he suffer a setback yesterday?

“No, no setback. It was just the schedule, the way we’re operating right now.”

With Brandin Cooks, can you say what (his injury is)?

“No. I’ll hit injuries when we get to the start of the regular season. I’ve said that to you guys already, and I appreciate you asking. But I’m not going to cover injuries daily in training camp. We’ll be here all day.”

Looking at Tommylee Lewis, could we expect to see him as a punt returner against the New England Patriots? He had that nice sweep today.

“Listen, he’s one of those free agents now that everyday, there’s something he’s done—one thing, two things to open your eye. He can run. I think he’s tough. I think he has a lot of grit. Yes, he had that little jet sweep in the red area. I think he’ll be a willing special teams player. He reminds me a little bit of David Patten. I was in New York when we had Patten, relatively early in his career. He played some Arena Football before he got signed by the Giants and then obviously went on and had a really good career. But he’s done some really good things. He has opened some eyes.”

I know it’s only one play, but when you see a guy willing to take on a safety like (Daniel) Lasco did (to Vonn Bell) and run that guy over, does that show you something?

“Yes. I think there is a sense of urgency and toughness you see. We saw some of that on film. The challenge sometimes when it’s not a full-go period, when it is a full-go up if you will—stay off the ground—it is important for the defense to front-up, butt-up, and you try to stay off the ground. Then we have had some periods where they were full go. He’s done some good things.”

Could you talk about what you’ve seen from PJ Williams so far?

“He’s received a lot of work. He’s healthy. I said that earlier. He’s receiving a ton of reps. I think he has pretty good football awareness. He’s played not only outside but also in some nickel situations, over the slot. I think he’s improving.”

What about (Ken) Crawley? He’s made several plays.

“A couple of these guys (have). I was talking about this group of corners. Crawley is one (of them). The (Texas) A&M Aggies made some plays out there. I’m encouraged. And we saw some of that in the rookie camp, and the minicamp, and OTAs, because it’s a little easier to evaluate the exterior positions than the line positions. But those guys are all competing and receiving good work.”

Is it a nice problem to have to have all these guys showing you something everyday, competing, and having so many guys stand out?

“Hopefully, when we get to game situations, we’ll be seeing the same type of plays. But, yes, whenever you sign free agents, and they’re able to come in and compete, that only helps your roster overall.”

This is a bit of a homecoming for (Nick) Fairley. When you started talking to him this offseason, how much could you tell that he wanted to be here?

“I sensed he wanted to be here. Mobile (Fairley’s hometown) isn’t too far away. I don’t know that that was the deciding factor. He understood the role that we envisioned. He’s someone—I think he enjoys playing. He will be a guy that is competing for snaps in the base, inside, and also in the sub. I think we improved ourselves in the interior of our defensive line noticeably.”

When you talk about the year one to year two leap, is there an element of learning how to deal with the requests for your time and all that?

“I think so. I think it’s part of the process. I think it’s different from the college game, and I think each guy handles it differently. Some guys come in with the maturity level that is ready-ready, and other guys come in and learn and go through a little bit more of a transition, if you will. A lot of it depends on the makeup.”

You mentioned that the interior part of your line has improved since last year. How much has Tyeler Davison really factored into that? He seems like he has taken a big step since last year.

“I’d say that he’s really at a good weight right now. He’s been noticeable on film at the nose. He is a guy that is extremely athletic and can (also) move. He has made some plays down the line of scrimmage. I’m encouraged to continue to watch his progress because right now, I think he’s putting together a really good training camp.”

I know you love the expression “It’s important to him.” How much did you have to be sold or find out when it came to Nick Fairley on that part of his game?

“A little bit. I think that is a good question. Until you visit with someone you have never met, you really—oh, you might have a preconceived notion as to what you thing the personality will be like. His is much different. I would say, when the visit ended, I felt better about this guy in regards to his desire to play on a team that he felt could win. I think that’s part of the process. With a player that you don’t have much history with, that 24-hour period can be important.”

That last year in St. Louis was good?

“I thought he played well. He played a lot of snaps. He was in their rotation. He played the one, he played the three on a good defensive line. He had good production.”

(Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) General (Richard) Myers spoke to you guys also today. Having him here, what does that mean?

“I wasn’t aware that he was here until midway through practice, and I had a chance to visit with him afterwards. He’s really impressive. Man, I found out he was sitting in the bleachers, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, let’s get him a chance to get over here and meet some of our guys.’ He’s with a couple of his sons-in-law and his grandchildren, and we were talking about some old Kansas State football games. That was an honor for us, obviously, to host someone with the background he’s had.”

I know he wasn’t out there, but when Garrett Griffin’s healthy, have you looked at him at all as a snapper?

“We had really two days before his injury. He did a really good job. He’s working to get back on the field. I would say (it was) noticeably encouraging, the two days we saw him snap. We saw some in the offseason, but he did a really good job. That was exciting to see. He handled it well.”

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