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Sean Payton previews Friday's Saints scrimmage

Transcript of Coach Payton's Thursday press conference

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Opening Statement: "As we look ahead to tomorrow, it is a morning scrimmage. The tempo will be much like you are seeing right now at practice, the difference being obviously that we will have officials and we'll create more of a game like situation down and distance-wise where it's not just scripted. We'll have to deal with substitution, down and distance.  That will be the big change.  We will receive plenty of reps.  We will put in the special teams throughout that like we have done before.  My best guess it would be finishing up around 11:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., somewhere in that range."

What was your review of the goal-line work today?

"It was tight red zone so goal line will be here in a couple more days, but I'm only saying that because the goal line will have a lot of big guys in there and a lot of handoffs.  So today was a red zone install.  Without looking at the tape obviously there are some good plays there on both sides of the ball but I think I want to take a peek at the tape and see.  It was the first day it went in.  We need work on it, I know that."

What are your thoughts on Benjamin Watson so far?

"He is steady and he has been that way since the day we got him.  He is steady.  Those guys had to take a little bit more reps than we like in practice.  He's good shape (and) very consistent.  You know exactly what you are getting and that is encouraging."

Andrus Peat got reps with the first team at left tackle today.  Is that something he has earned or are you throwing him in the fire a little bit?

"No, for us it made a lot of sense just with where we are at.  We were sitting one more day with Terron (Armstead) and so we have some flexibility there and we said last night let's move him over to the left side right now.  It is a position he is familiar with, obviously he played it in college."

Can you tell how he held up at all?

"We will see it on the tape.  I am sure there are some good things and I am sure there are some things he needs to correct."

What is it like to have a guy like Ramon Humber on defense that you can depend on?

"He's smart.  He's a veteran player.  I would say he's very athletic.  His COD or change of direction, (and) quickness is very good. It's exceptional.  I think that serves him well when he plays in the kicking game.  And so there are a lot of things that he does well.  You don't take that for granted.  I think he too is in great shape.  He can play a bunch of different spots and again you are talking about a player that you know right what you are going to get.  He's going to be a smart guy and then when you factor in that he can play all four quarters and on your special teams unit then you have something in his case, something that is valuable."

You talked about the guidelines for the scrimmage. Is there a certain position group you want to really zone in on tomorrow?

"No, there wouldn't be one specific group.  You're wanting to look at all of them to see how they handle the snaps that they receive.  We will have the one's versus the two's and the three's versus the three's and we will come back one's versus one's.  We kind of do an outline of how many plays (we have) in a series and yet if a drive's continuing then we keep the drive going.  I think more than anything, monitoring the snaps where we might be light just to make sure guys are not receiving too much work.  We will lay that out.  We already kind of discussed that for them.  We look forward to getting after it."

Do you find it when you get to this point in camp that guys are itching to get reins taken off of them and look forward to a scrimmage?

"Yeah, I don't know if that is going to change much tomorrow though.  We are not bringing players to the ground or diving.  We are practicing tomorrow much like you are seeing right now which is a full go thud is what we call it.  That's being smart.  I think that typically comes when you are getting ready to play your first preseason game which is a week away now."

What have you seen from Khiry Robinson?

"A quite a bit, obviously he is going into his third season.  I think the biggest area would be in pass protection and in the passing game.  Those are two areas that he's gotten more comfortable with and I think that pass protection element, not just in first or second down but on third down can be somewhat complex and I think that he is beginning to pick that up.  Just like what we talked about Mark (Ingram) the other day, you get some versatility when they are able to do a number of things."

What is the biggest thing in what coaches look for on the first initial scrimmage?

"The first thing that we talk about in evaluating the players, does he know what to do?  You want to make sure guys are getting aligned up correctly (and) they're not having the mental assignment minuses.  That'd be the first thing that comes to mind is that they know what to do and they are lined up correctly and then you begin to grade how well they did it and so on."

Did you bring in anyone for a workout today?

"We have three corners in for a workout.  We will announce it later.  A couple of guys that were veterans and then a younger player, we just finished working them out.  There are a couple of positions where we are a little light right now.  It was good to have (Delvin) Breaux out there and I think Keenan (Lewis) has a chance to be back out there tomorrow.  We worked out three and we will go from there."

Was today kind of the next step for Jairus Byrd's rehab?

"Yes, there is progression to it.  Land base movements, walk-throughs, all of that, he is on schedule (to return).  Fortunately, I said this yesterday, there haven't been any setbacks and I think that's encouraging."

Is there a chance for Khiry Robinson to make a jump in year three to where he gets everything?

"I do not know if it is year three, really in year one he really showed up and stood out differently because he was a much different player when we put the pads on.  So in the spring his first year, I said this before, he almost did not make the 90 man to camp.  We talked about a handful of players and fortunately we brought him to camp because some guys when they get the pads on they are a little different maybe than you expect as a player and I think they certainly helped define him.  Now, that being said, in year three, is he further along in some of the other areas? Yes, I think so and he'll have an important role in what we do.  He has had a good camp so far. There are some natural instincts he has as a runner.  I think he is physical and runs with good balance."

Looking at installing red zone offense and defense, it seemed like the overall coverage is just seems that the quarterback is having to go through the progression.

"One of the things that is happening, not just our team, when teams drop eight and only rush three, the quarterbacks, in our league in general, are becoming much more comfortable in recognizing that and then creating a second opportunity in the play.  So in a tight area when eight guys are dropping it can be a little blurry at first but the thing they can do is find a cavity, move and then you really look at some red zone scramble things.  You saw Drew (Brees) complete a couple that weren't necessarily in the framework of the initial route but as he flushed guys were able to uncover, get open.  It is a little bit of a cat and mouse game if you will on defense.  you are able to plug zones with numbers but you see a quarterback then hold on to the ball a little longer, realistically, not unrealistically like sometimes you see in practice, realistically hold onto the ball a little longer because there is only three guys rushing."

Bill Johnson has been here for a while now.  What is it like to have a guy that is experienced, polished and enthusiastic?

"He's a real good technician.  Our offices up here are fantastic and yet my wall's kind of thin and his wall's right next to me.  Every once in a while I'll meander around and open up the door and tell him I just have to save our room texts because he's still meeting at 9:50 p.m. But I think that he's a real good teacher.  I think when it comes to the fundamentals and alignments, some of the details it takes to play that position are areas that he is well versed in and does a good job with."

Senio Kelemete said it is nice to have another Polynesian player on the roster in Hau'oli Kikaha.  Your history with Polynesian players, is it extensive and what kind of player do you get from that part of the country?

"Well honestly, two parts to that question, when you just asked me that I just started quickly thinking who was our other Polynesian player.  The great thing about our league, I don't see nationality really.  When I coached at San Diego State, we had a number of Polynesian players and in that conference whether it was Utah or a handful of the schools.  I think that was more regional."

Did it remind you of how global the game is?

"I think the game is global and the best part of the game is, until you brought it up, I didn't realize we had just two Polynesians on our team.  I think it is unimportant but I think it is a positive.  Hau'oli (Kihaha) is doing a great job right now.  He has transitioned quickly into the position he is playing.  He is another guy tomorrow that I will be anxious to see how he does in his snaps.  Those two players specifically arrived here differently and the positions obviously couldn't be more different and yet they are extremely dedicated and hard-working players.  Look, our league has a pretty rich tradition specifically with Polynesian players, we'd go back and begin to name a number of them.  They are tough and I would say you've seen some of those traits early on form Hau'oli."

Hau'oli Kikaha said he is learning that you can't just rely on your athletic ability anymore at this level.  How have you seen him start to pick things up?

"I think the first transition is man all of a sudden you are getting some of the pass protection in the world and maybe week in and week out in college you didn't see that.  You are going to have to improve technique and get off and you are really going to have to fine tune some of those things that maybe you were able to have success with prior.  But I would say that is probably pretty normal progression for a rookie at any position, whether it is a receiver who is now playing against a veteran corner in bump and run coverage.  It is different and then quickly those guys begin to prove themselves because they have to."

Does it get dangerous that Dannell Ellerbe might be too far behind?

"Listen, he is right on schedule.  For him, as we meet in the evenings, I think he will be out here sooner than later and he is in the walkthroughs and all those things.  He is going to be fine."

What would you say Brandin Cooks did particularly well in year one?

"There are so many reps that we get to see outside of games that allow us to have a feel for what we see in a player.  In other words, we see all the practice snaps.  He's explosive.  He's smart and he's a tireless worker.  He can run.  He can get on top of the defense.  He has all those other things along with his skillset, all those other things that give you the chance to be a real good player."

Were you surprised at all that he was in the running to lead the team in receiving before his injury?

"I don't know that I would have been surprised.  I think that one of the things offensively, that ball gets spread around the receivers especially and yet you saw a comfort level that we have with him outside and inside and the timing he and Drew (Brees) had.  No I wouldn't have been surprised.  The other thing is he is a guy that will play a little bigger than his size.  He is pretty physical and there are all those things that you need to have to be special in our league, he has those traits."

When you are putting plays together for practice, is it just by coincidence, it seems like you want to see a player and you are dialing up certain plays and all of a sudden you are seeing Brandon Coleman being targeted and now he is not available and now we are seeing Seantavius Jones.

"Yes, I would say one of the things coaches are involved in heavily is the practice plan, the periods we are going to run and the scripts getting written and then after the scripts are written there are some plays that you want to see a specific player dialed into.  That doesn't mean the ball is going to go to that player but it is a play designed maybe that is suited for that skillset.  So I think that's important.  It is frustrating every once and a while if you look out there and I am looking at the play and I am looking for who I think might get it and we don't have the right person there.  So I think our coaches do a great job really previewing the scripts and although there are rotations, first group, second group, third group, there are a lot of little rotations going on within those groups and that is part of it."

When you have a lull like you said yesterday in practice, do you go back and say what can we do tomorrow to maybe prevent something like that?

"I think one thing that as a head coach you have to pay close attention to (is when you have a lull), the team run period for instance was not as good offensively but defensively there were a lot of good things.  I thought this morning was good.  I thought it was important that we cut back a period.  Certainly there's a little bit of a back and forth with camp and I just want to make sure that that competitive level stays high and as best as you can.  Tomorrow will be another chance for us to do that."

How do you monitor how players are doing in regards to missing assignments?

"It's hard for us to see, for me to see a missed assignment.  I'm going to put the tape on today and I think there's going to be a snap or two maybe where we have a substitution issue and hopefully there's not many.  But when you're watching the tape and some of them just jump out at you it is easy when you see a guy run free for instance in a pass rush.  But periodically you'll see something on the field and you know it's wrong.  To your point though, you're grading these practices and you're talking with the player.  Look, it is the first thing that you have to evaluate, does he know what to do and then how well is he doing it and then is he trying to do what we are coaching him from a technique standpoint?  There are some elements there but the first thing that can keep a player from getting on the field is consistently or inconsistently his assignments are off.  If that is the case, he can't plan."

How is the team doing in that perspective?

"I think better.  I think right now with where we're at in the installation certainly we're installing less defensively.  I think that is important and yet until I watch the practice tape I am sure there will be a handful of things.  We had a receiver blocking a linebacker instead of a corner today.  Those kinds of things drive you nuts.  They have to be able to understand what we are asking them to do in order for them to play fast.  If you are uncertain of your assignment then it is almost certain that you are not going to be consistent on the field."

Is it harder to get guys involved when there are so many new faces on the team?

"I think that is pretty typical of training camp, 90 man rosters and the turnover each year in our league, I think that is pretty common.  I'd be willing to say that this year, no different than the year before, the year before, maybe 2006 was probably as much turnover as this team seen but that is pretty common with a new staff.  I think we get them in the spring and we start coaching them and obviously from an assignment standpoint it puts a premium on your walkthroughs, it puts a premium on anytime you are out there running plays is guys knowing what to do and being able then to do it."

Can we get a comment on Willie Snead?

"He is doing well.  I would say he is a guy along those lines of what we just discussed.  He knows what to do on every play and so now it is getting him in position whether it is in the slot to take advantage of some of his strengths.  He lacks some top end speed and yet he has some uncover skills.  He has real good football awareness. Those are good things.  I am not going to make a snide Ball State comment here (from an Eastern Illinois alum)."

Can you talk about how it was 100 percent chance of rain today?

"Yes, we pay attention to it the night before.  One of the great things about the field turf, barring any lightning, is if we do receive rain we can still practice.  The fields are holding up.  They are in great shape.  Hopefully we can continue with the weather we've had.  Obviously it has been good.  We had some cloud cover.  I think the conditions this morning were fantastic."

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