New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonPost-Practice Press ConferenceTuesday, August 23, 2016
What do you see on tape when you watch the offensive line?
"It's a work in progress right now. We're working to improve and obviously we have a lot of room to improve. I don't think by any means we feel we have played well enough last week and yet today was better. We have to keep working at it and keep getting better. I don't get discouraged though. Your question is discouraging though. The gloom and doom, but we will get that group ready. We will be ready."
Can you talk about what Aaron Glenn has brought coaching the secondary?
"He's played a long time in this league. One of his great strengths was his film study, (and) his intelligence. He has always been one of those guys, even as a player, that the rest of the secondary gravitated too for information. Part of playing that position is learning splits and learning route combinations. Not defending every pattern on every play based on what you are seeing and Aaron is one of those guys that I think did that as a player and I think that is a strength of his as a coach now. He is a young teacher. He has that passion that he had playing and he wants the guys to do it exactly right and he wants to help them learn. Hey, these are some of the things that you have to do. He has been a really good addition."
Was there something with his (Aaron Glenn's) personality that attracted you when you interviewed him?
"Remember now, I was with Aaron (Glenn) at the Cowboys. I was with Aaron (Glenn) when we signed him here. I have known Aaron for a while, so we did not sit down and have an interview and get to know each other. (Just) Over time where you begin to see this (personality). I go back to 2004 first game of the year at San Diego, (Drew) Brees is the quarterback and there is a late drive we scored. Just like today, Aaron Glenn sat inside on a split, deflected the ball and intercepted it. He's just one of those guys, along with his skillset he was exceptionally talented and I think as a coach that's some of the things that you see. That same passion and intelligence."
Have you seen any special moments from Jairus Byrd?
"He has been real active, yesterday and today. Now the interception I give him a hard time on. It looked like a pregame drill, but I would say yes and there has been steady progress with him. I know it's been a long and challenging road. He had a significant knee injury here, but he feels healthy. He is an instinctive player and yes I think the last couple days he's made some plays and breaks on the ball that are encouraging."
What do you think about his attitude through the years?
"It's been outstanding, it's been outstanding. It's easy to get frustrated when you have one of those procedures done and maybe it does not come back as quickly as you hope. No one was more frustrated than himself. He's been real diligent with the rehab. He has seen every doctor under the sun and it's important to him. It's more important to him than it is anyone else. The patience for him is starting to pay off and I'm encouraged for him."
With all the talk about the defensive coordinator and defensive backs, why was it so important to address linebacker this offseason?
"I don't know that there was any talk with the coordinator or defensive backs. My point is I think that we had to look at how do we improve our special teams, how do we get younger in some areas and (it) just so happened there was one positon group that we felt we needed to (upgrade). It didn't necessary need to be a frontline (guy), but players like (Craig) Robertson, (Nathan) Stupar were guys that were receiving snaps in games and they are young and they are guys that excelled in the kicking game. The vision becomes a little easier if they are not in the base. You know that you are going to receive their 25 snaps in other areas. Both of them have been playing a lot of defense for us now in the preseason and they have handled it well. Those are just two of the guys that you are referencing, in regards to bringing them in. In regards the secondary, how do we address a certain position groups where we feel like we have a need. Whether it be through the draft or free agency and really I would say it appears we have hit on some college free agents after the draft. We'll see."
When you look players do you look at only certain traits or the whole body of work?
"There has to be one trait and we talk about this. We're looking for some versatility. Ben Watson was one of the unique players we evaluated. I remember doing his pro tape. I felt like he came into the league as a receiver established himself at a blocker, but you saw a player that was good in both areas, but clearly when we sign a tight end there is a first vision and second vision and with (Michael Hoomanawanui) Hooman he has to be able to block the D gap. There will be some roles in the passing game. I would say a little bit of the opposite with (Coby) Fleener. Josh Hill is one of those guys that gives you some versatility both ways. In a perfect world, at that position you do have someone that can block, run and catch. Then you have a challenge on your hands defensively. You just can't be one dimensional, but there has to be something that you feel real strong about that they do well."
Is left guard still being evaluated between both guys?
"Yes, Tim (Lelito) and Senio (Kelemente) are receiving a bunch of the work. Tim left today with some cramps, so Senio might be our warm weather guard and Lelito might be when we play up north. He's from Michigan, (he'll be) our cold weather guard."
What do you take away from that last period of practice when you put them in (pressure situations)?
"We're just trying to really create (a real game situation). You guys watch. All these games, they'll be a couple that end north of one score. Then the other six or seven, they'll be on the red zone channel. They all end at the same time and they all end in the two-minute drill, defending a score or needing a score. That is how they end. The halves end that way and the games end that way. Our job, hopefully, is to best simulate the end of the game, in regards to stress – you're tired and you've got to focus. All of the stuff in between, here it is. We can point to a handful of them over the past few years. The 2013 opener versus Atlanta ends up on the three-yard line and we're defending a score. A few years later in Atlanta, it's overtime and they're defending. We won the toss, turn the ball over and they kick a field and end the game. All the work that goes into the gameplan and it ends in one of those situations. The key is when you get the heat and you get a chance, you can change up whether they need three or need six. That type of thing. We're just trying to simulate the end of the game or end of a half. "
Did you like what you saw?
"It went back and forth. Yesterday we had a few walk-off plays by the defense, interceptions where right away the drill ended. Today we had a touchdown on the first play. It was that delicate balance if you will. The positive on one side of the ball and the first thing that you want to do is look at what we were in coverage-wise and how did a guy like (Coby) Fleener get open like that. Then yesterday was the interception. As long as they're competing and improving, I think we receive something from it."
How did (Coby Fleener) get open?
"I haven't seen the film yet. I saw what you saw."
How excited are you guys to see Dannell (Ellerbe) give you guys potentially what you expected when you brought him in?
"I think a lot. I'd say that he's someone we probably haven't talked about enough. Just on the tape evaluation, he's the guy clearly, if you watch the film, he's one of our better defensive players. He runs well, his pad level (is good and he) plays with good instincts. I think that can definitely be a big plus for us. Of course, he will be back here tomorrow. He just had the birth of his son."
Why is that WILL (Linebacker) spot so important?
"Well, a lot of times, it is covered. So the guy in front of him sometimes is a three-technique so it is tougher to get to him with a lineman. If that linebacker is playing over a bubble, then he is dealing with a big body sometimes in the running game. Depending on the defense that you're in, a lot of times, that guy can be protected with a front set."
Is the Steelers offense about as good a test as a defense can receive in a third preseason game?
"They have been right at the top here the last few years. (Offensive coordinator) Todd (Haley) has done a good job, obviously Ben (Roethlisberger), the running game, the weapons outside and inside. They are something. We saw them a couple of years ago in Pittsburgh. They have a running back (Le'Veon Bell) that can do a lot of the things that a receiver could out of the backfield. You end up with a linebacker or safety on him, it can be very challenging. The quarterback can extend plays still so you have to extend the field, vertically and horizontally. They've got speed outside and obviously one of the best receivers in this game clearly. They present problems defensively. They are a group that plays with great awareness. It is a pressure group. We are kind of turning the page to them but it seems like just a year and a half ago we played them. (Steelers head coach) Mike (Tomlin) does a great job and I am sure that they'll be ready to play in their third preseason game. A few of those guys will be playing for the first time."
What is your thought on the change of the injury reporting designation, where there is no more probable?
"No big deal. (There is) Nothing strong really or negative about it. So there is questionable or doubtful. So there are two boxes instead of three. I think they are just trying to streamline it. I understand the reason for it. I think more importantly is the practice participation. If you said what do I look at more, it wouldn't be the questionable. We look at that but it would really be DNP, limited or full (participation). Those are the three things that I think are applicable that you pay more attention to. There are some veterans that would DNP for three days and then play. That is my opinion. I don't have a strong one in regards to the change. It is not a big deal."
Does it depend on the position, when you're evaluating the DNP versus limited?
"If you look at the prior three weeks and the player's missed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then's played. A little bit of the history can kind of give you information. I do not think it is a big deal. It is what it is."
Is it fair to say that you guys are consciously trying to temper expectations for Michael Thomas?
"No, I've got high expectations for him. I think he is going to contribute early. I don't follow fantasy football but I'd try to have him. I think he is going to do well."
(Senior defensive assistant) Peter Giunta has experience; what has he brought to training camp?
"He's coached a long time. I think the combination of Peter (Giunta) and Aaron (Glenn) has worked out well. Peter (Giunta) actually coached Aaron (Glenn) early in his career. There is some wisdom with him. He has coordinated really good defenses. He has been around and worked for some of the best defensive coordinators in the history of our game. When you get someone like that and someone who's energized, it's just finding the right fit. I think that in both of those hires, it's worked out extremely well. We are fortunate to have him because there are just so many past experiences. He's been with guys like Dick Vermeil. Just over the years, the guys that he's worked with has really been impressive. Tom Coughlin (is another one). He's won Super Bowls. I think there is a good balance there between the youth you have in Aaron (Glenn) and some of the wisdom and experience you have with Peter (Giunta)."