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Sean Payton reviews Thursday's Saints practice

Payton met with the media following practice

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Opening statement: "Situationally, we got to some more red zone work today. We had a "move the ball" period and then some end of game, two-minute situations."

As far as the practice tomorrow night at Tulane; how did that come about?

"I think like a year ago we went over to Mandeville High School and (General Manager) Mickey (Loomis) and I, earlier in the week, were just talking about (having an evening practice at) Tulane. With the (Yulman) stadium being new and not having been there, it certainly, on a Friday night, gives a lot of people an opportunity, that are otherwise maybe working, to (be able to) come see a practice. The weather's been fantastic here this week so we should have good weather. Logistically, it's pretty easy to get over there. Those guys have been practicing in our fieldhouse for the last three years so I told (Tulane Football Head Coach) C.J. (Curtis Johnson) we can borrow your field for just one night. Those guys were great in accommodating us. I think it'll be good."

You guys liked the atmosphere last year at Mandeville. Are you trying to capture that again?

"Yes, I think so. I thought it was (a) good (atmosphere in Mandeville). I think (it will be) just a changeup here. We will have a little bit of the practice be a focus on the Texans. We should start at around 7:00 p.m. the way it reads. I think all of that will be a positive."

Is that something that came together over the last couple of days or is it something that you have been thinking about?

"Unlike last year (where) I think we knew last year, well in advance, that we were going to have a practice on the north shore, this was more kind of a week's notice, if that."

Does that catch that Brandon Coleman made at the end of practice represent the next step that he has to take?

"I am hoping the next step is that the safety and the corner stay on top of a play like that. That is why we do it. What you are trying to do is poke holes in your offense and defense, situationally, at the end of a game. There are so many different situations, timeout-wise, (whether) you need a touchdown or a field goal; with all of those things, you have to be smart and understand the down and distance. That was the last play really. With no timeouts, Drew (Brees) got it to the line of scrimmage so it is just a good teaching situation for us, in general. I thought it was a good play by him."

When you look at Delvin Breaux, you have been happy with some of the things that you have seen.  How much credit do you give him for his path to get here?

"It is pretty impressive. Look, I remember when we worked him out. The concern was that he was working out with us and then he had nine other scheduled workouts. We tried to do everything so that he was not going to leave the building. His workout was that impressive. It is as good of a corner workout that I have seen in a long time. Then you hear his story and obviously it is pretty amazing. Just the different places that he has played and the patience that he has had. He is from here. It is one of those Michael Lewis stories that you want to write a book about. He is doing well."

With some of the injuries that you have had in the secondary, how has that helped a guy like him get more reps and get more opportunities?

"He, for a week, was one of those guys that we were just sitting but, all in all, a lot of those guys are benefitting from the added reps. From Kyle Wilson to Stanley Jean-Baptiste and right on down the line. All those guys are receiving more work with some of the veteran guys being down. I think that same thing's happening at safety. Not the just in the secondary (but), periodically, that happens during camp with a portion of your team. The next man's up, training, receiving those reps and certainly that helps in the evaluation."

Do you guys prepare and scheme more for this third preseason game?

"I don't know that we do more. We're moving into a practice two days prior rather than in the first two games, typically, it was the day before. It'll be similar with regards to the film work (and) with regards to the amount of practice snaps. There might be a little more time on Saturday for walk-throughs. This will be a little more like an in-season schedule. Hotels Saturday night and then we have a 3:00 p.m. start time. I don't know that from an x's and o's standpoint that there is more preparation for that game. Everything out here is (still) Saints on Saints right now."

When you are evaluating the kickers, is evaluation what they do during practice and in the games?

"It's all of it. You're hoping that one stands out and one separates themselves. It would be in practice and it would be in the game. Hopefully, that happens here soon. I would say that both of them have shown really good signs in practice and both of them, at times, haven't been as consistent. Hopefully, in this game and throughout the next 10 days in practice, through up to Green Bay, we get a better feel. It is ongoing."

Brandin Cooks has been very impressive this preseason but where can he improve? Where could he still get better?

"I'd say first off that he's a very diligent worker. He prepares extremely well. He too would be very critical of his own play weekly. When you look to really pick at some of the specifics, some of the challenges from a stature standpoint or leveraging on his blocking. Just because of his size. I think the consistency of just being in a lineup now for the course of just getting ready to start a season. You can see the offseason work that he has had and obviously in his second year, he is progressing well."

You guys have played the Texans before. How unique is (defensive end) J.J. Watt in that he can change a game (playing) on the inside or outside?

"He is a dynamic player. In the running game and in the passing game. He is one of those guys that if you just put the film on and said I am not telling you who we are looking at, the first person that you would say, at some point is, who is this guy? I'd say his stamina along with his athleticism. His stamina being down in and down out. You don't see guys play with that same effort and energy that he is able to. It is an all-day assignment when you are blocking him, in either phase. He has got a tremendous motor. It is real important to him and you can see his passion. I think it is contagious. It is something that obviously the defense can feed off of and I think the team can."

Do you know what put (guard) Cyril Lemon on your radar?

"I can't think specifically. This year, from a lineman standpoint, offensive and defensive line, we have had some good young players that maybe we weren't as aware of."

When a guy is from New Orleans, does that factor into a decision? Do you want guys from New Orleans on the team?

"The only time it ever matters is, potentially, in-season practice squad (situations). The guy who's here locally, in a pinch, obviously that means something. (Otherwise) I do not know that it matters."

You don't discuss injuries. Does that include your own because I can see that you are showing all of those nasty bruises on your legs?

"That is a long story."

Your decision to go off to college yesterday; how was that?

"It was an easy one. It is our first and just going through that transition, especially with the distance involved. It is a fairly small dorm room with three girls so in the morning yesterday when you walk in, you're just like overwhelmed with clutter and shoes. A good part of the day was spent at Wal-Mart. I would say that storage, space and organization was at a premium. Whether it was finding shelving or a television set, all of that stuff. Just doing kind of normal dad stuff. Kind of a lump in your throat type of day too when you leave. I'm excited for her. Jealous for her too because it is a pretty good setup there."

Are you comfortable with Brandin Cooks? As much as he is going to be part of the offense but to be the main punt returner?

"Absolutely, yet I'm anxious to see here (like) Jalen Saunders is a guy that we've seen some pretty good returns from. (Marcus) Murphy's a guy that we drafted with that skill set in mind. It might be something where, situationally, you use Cooks if you have them backed up like we'd use Reggie (Bush) at times. I'll say this though, to your question, I think he's really progressed in regards to his technique and ability to field the ball.  On Sunday, I'll probably give him a couple of returns, even if they are fair catch opportunities just where he is locating inside and catching it in the Dome."

You had a lot of good things to say about Tim Hightower's play on offense in the Baltimore game; what has he done in camp since then to either build upon that?

"The first thing that comes to mind is that he is steady. I have said this before but you kind of know what you are getting. That is a pretty good thing with him. He is doing well and he will get a number of touches in this game. He's right in there competing. Sometimes when you are making a decision on a player like Tim, it might not be the running backs it might be versus the additional linebacker or the additional corners. Those are the decisions that become most challenging. I'm pleased with how he's played."

What about (Kasim) Edebali? How has he progressed this camp?

"I think (he's) doing well. He is a high motor player. He plays with great effort and (great) energy. You know where he can play in the kicking game which is a huge plus. The key is finding his growth in the defense. Is that coming off on sub downs as a pass rusher (or) is it coming in the base as an outside linebacker. Those are the things that we are evaluating now but (we like) his energy and hustle to the ball. He is one of those smart guys that typically does the right thing."

I know (Chris) Manhertz was with another team but how do you become aware of those tight ends that were former basketball players? Is it word of mouth?

"Oftentimes it is a scout. I don't think teams are specifically, all of a sudden, evaluating all of the basketball programs. I think that they just expanded their search data, if you will, to include that. No different than how the NBA is, in the last 10-to-15 years, signing more European players that they've found. We are doing the same thing with regards to body types. A lot of those players you are not seeing in the college game necessarily in the traditional tight end formation. So where is that athlete? I think teams are getting more comfortable and are looking at those types of programs. A lot of times, it is coming from a coach at the college they play for, to the member clubs. Like hey, here is a guy who I think has a chance. In Jimmy (Graham's) case, we all got to see a year of organized football with a university. The more difficult ones are the ones that just have not played. A lot of it is word of mouth."

Is it really hard to make a projection based on that because I assume that they are pretty raw?

"Yes, I think it is. I think sometimes it can vary. Is he a bigger boned prospect, is he a better blocker? First thing that comes to everyone's mind is a receiver but there are a lot of college forwards that would be pretty good blocking tight ends, I think."

You play the Texans in the regular season; do you have any thoughts on playing a team in the preseason and then in the regular season?

"I think because of what we are trying to do right now and I think (Texans Head Coach) Bill (O'Brien) would say the same thing, the objective for us right now is finding the right guys on this roster. With that being said, the time spent on scheme is not as significant. This isn't the first time that it's happened. I think we've played Houston before in the preseason and then have played them again in the regular season. I think with where we are in camp right now, I think our focal point is really on our roster and the reps that our guys are going to be getting. There is also a pretty big chunk of time before we play them in the regular season."

Did it have any factor in the regular season as far as seeing the players?

"Maybe, it would be more personnel than it would be scheme."

Will you consider putting coordinators upstairs or tinkering with that like you have during this game?

"We'll see. I don't know how much change we'll make for this game. We'll meet on it and figure out what we want to do."

Did you like anything from last week (when you did that)?

"Yes, parts of it were good. This week we'll do the same thing. We'll take a peek at it. We're probably one heavy upstairs. I think eight is your limit when you get into the regular season so we'll figure that out."

With (Brandin) Cooks on punt returns, does a coach have to block out the specific circumstances of an injury last year or do you make that part of the equation?

"I think you have to block that out. It is no different than having some of your frontline starters on defense playing in the kicking game. They're all plays. They're all one play and they all carry a similar value. We have done that with (Darren) Sproles and Reggie Bush and you want to have your better players with the ball in their hand. Those are not as difficult. It is more challenging in the preseason. "

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