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Sean Payton previews the Baltimore Ravens game

Quotes from Coach Payton's post-practice press conference on Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Opening Statement: "Here's who we've signed (to the active roster), Wide receiver Jalen Saunders will be wearing number 18 to the roster, Linebacker Moise Fokou will be wearing number 54. We brought up defensive back Terrence Frederick from the practice squad. He's number 37. We signed safety Pierre Warren in jersey number 42. We waived running back Brian Leonard. (We) Also waived running back Edwin Baker. Safety Rafael Bush and wide receiver Brandin Cooks were placed on IR. Practice squad transactions as it (roster size) sits at 10 now, Edwin Baker who was on the active roster is back on the practice squad. Linebacker Jerry Franklin in jersey number 59 is on the practice squad. Off the practice squad we released running back Tauren Poole and then of course Terrence Frederick is coming up. We are at 53 (on the active roster) and 10 (on the practice squad roster)."

When you get to the thinning ranks of the safety position, what is the best way to handle that?

"Number one, we have players in the building and then we signed a safety outside. We will look at the workweek and make sure we are putting the best combination together. Part of a long NFL season is attrition sometimes to injury and the next guys up will have to do the job."

Is it something that you do like to evaluate the week of practice?

"We will look at the week and see how those guys are handling it."

Is Jalen Saunders a guy that can help on returns?

"That is the first thing we see with (Brandin) Cooks being down. He is a player that we evaluated coming out of Oklahoma and had good grades on, paid attention to so we will see how he does this week in competition with a couple of other guys that are already working on it."

Is that something that is easier to plug somebody in?

"It might be just in regards to scheme. There are three returns maybe so that transition is something that can be a little bit smoother. The key is making sure that he has an idea of what we are doing with each return and then how he is fielding the punts. We will probably take those guys to the Superdome one time this week to make sure they are good with catching it inside."

How do you try to overcome losing Brandin Cooks?

"Well it falls on, and this has happened with us before with regards to a number of different players, and it falls on the rest of the group picking up his touches. It's the receivers, the running backs candidates that would be doing some of the same thing, mostly the receivers."

What did you like about Moise Fokou?

"He was someone that we had in about a month ago to work out (with us). We felt like number one that he has plenty of playing time experience. He has been a starter in this league. His workout with us went well. We worked him out again last week. I think the combination of his experience and then us being familiar with him in the last workout (played a role in the decision to sign him)."

Do you anticipate people keening on Jimmy Graham even more that Brandin Cooks is out?

"You have to play your defense though. I think some of that might be third down specific than it would be in the base defense. When you get teams playing man and maybe a double somewhere I think to his credit, certainly he has been seeing that already and so we will keep looking at what are the matchups and how do we get him open with regardless of coverage."

We have seen Travaris Cadet and Joe Morgan return punts in the past, are those among the candidates for the job?

"Those are a handful, Kenny Stills, all of those guys work it every day and practice at it."

The fact that Joe Morgan hasn't had a lot of opportunities this season, is that based on depth?

"That was more on depth. Early in the season versus Atlanta he was up. We had a couple of shot opportunities. He is someone that we feel like blocks well. There are some similarities in regards to what Robert Meachem and he both do. So it was more depth related."

Are you still comfortable that whenever Robert Meachem comes back that you have deep threat options on this team?


You guys are playing the Monday night music, even with the new primetime games, is that still kind of the premier game for you?

"They are all important games it just so happens that certainly this one is a Monday night game so the workweek changes. I think our players get in a night game schedule be it Sunday or Monday, Thursday is a little different. They get familiar with that. We just try to mix things up pre-practice."

You said you wanted to look at everything after the game.  Is there anything fundamental you guys changed up?

"Just paying attention to our practice, making sure, it is going to be important that we are fresh. We are playing a team coming off a bye. We have to make sure we are ready to take advantage of playing at home so starting fast and having that intensity necessary to play this game."

What do you think of the schedule?  You have two games in five days and the last opponent had 10 days to get ready and this team is coming off a bye and the next team is coming off a bye.

"It is hard to pay attention to it. We really try not to. The focus is really, right now and I know it is a little cliché but right now the focus is strictly on our team. How do we get better here? How do we come off a tough week and prepare to play our best football this Monday? That is kind of where we made sure our energy is focused."

Can you talk about Marcus Ball?

"He is smart. He is healthy. He certainly knows and has a good grasp of what we are doing."

Steve Smith, Sr. has been quite successful against the Saints in the past.

"A lot of people, not just us, when you look at his career. We coached him back in 2006 at the Pro Bowl where our staff was coaching. He has energy. He has juice. He is a guy that obviously looks for the big play opportunities. He has fit in great with their system. He has been a great addition. The good news was he left our division. The bad news was we are playing him this year. I love watching him play, (and) his passion. He's tough. There is an energy that he brings with him that is very evident just on watching the tape. When you see him in person you feel that. We are going to have our hands full with both of those guys."

Do you still have that retirement card ready?

"It's ready, flowers, the whole nine."

How about Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil?

"You are seeing those guys with a ton of production. In the base Suggs doesn't come off the field so you are dealing with him on the weak side. And then in the nickel the same way, Dumervil (receives) a little bit more snaps in the nickel, outstanding pass rushers with great production. This is a real good defense and it is nothing new for Baltimore."

When you put red jerseys on guys to identify players, do they have more than usual?

"You don't necessarily need a jersey because you know if you are the left tackle it is going to be that outside player and if you are the right tackle, the same way. We have to be real good on our early downs and avoid those long yardage situations."

What are some of the things you most value about Pierre Thomas?

"He is real smart so he knows how to block the pressure. He's been real good at that for a long time, understanding our protections be it on third down, specifically third down. He is also someone that has very good instincts as a runner. He is someone that you never see really minus yards plays with. He has good balance and vision."

What do you think about some of the ways Baltimore has weathered the storm with the way they have faced the Ray Rice situation?

"I think they have great leadership there. I've worked with John (Harbaugh). He is doing a great job and has done a great job. (General Manager) Ozzie (Newsome) from top down, they are an organization that has really put together the right formula in what it takes to win."

What would be the difficulties of putting a guy that is more of a true strong safety at the free safety and would it be more difficult for a free safety to switch to a strong or vice versa?

"A lot of it, it's a fair question and a lot of it's based on the scheme you run defensively. We'll play teams throughout the course of our schedule where the positions are interchangeable and then there are certain defenses where clearly the positions are designed differently and built differently. It would be based on scheme."

Can you talk about how durability of players and especially Curtis Lofton?

"Absolutely, it starts with the college draft rating. Has this been an available, durable player? To what degree a player might be graded down because of past injury issues or limited playing time, it would depend but certainly there's a value to someone that's built to last. Mondays can be pretty hectic in this league coming off a game where all of a sudden you lose a player or two. You potentially are looking at a short list, that actually can be happening Sunday night in the locker room right after the game. I think a guy like Curtis, especially at the position he plays involved in as much contact as he is involved being around the football, that's huge. It is something that you don't want to ever take for granted."

Do you think Justin Forsett's success stepping in for Ray Rice is somewhat indicative of just how successful their running scheme is and the blocking?

"I think there is a combination of, look, any back will tell you the right scheme, the right offensive line and then his understanding of the scheme.  You take a look at Mike Bell for instance a few years back with us.  But then you still have to have the talented runner.  He is having great production.  If you look at his yards per carry he is at the top of the league. Certainly (Offensive Coordinator) Gary's (Kubiak) experience in the zone scheme he has a great feel and has been a real good fit for them."

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