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Sean Payton talks about facing the Atlanta Falcons

Sean Payton spoke with the media after practice on Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Opening Statement: "We waived quarterback Ryan Griffin and signed kicker Shayne Graham to the active roster.  We placed inside linebacker Khairi Fortt on injured reserve designated to return and signed wide receiver Robert Meachem.  Today was again kind of a base emphasis, (on) first and second down."

What was your thought process on letting Ryan Griffin go?

"It is part of the deal when you are dealing with the 53 and you are looking at your numbers.  We've had two (quarterbacks) on the active roster, we've also had three.  It was what we felt was best heading into this week."

Do you think there is less of a risk losing him on waivers waiving him now versus on Saturday?

"There's two parts to that.  The injured reserve designation can't take place until Tuesday, but I don't know that there's any less or more of a chance.  I think every team in the league pays close attention to waiver wires.  More than anything else it was when we were able to do a couple of these transactions.  That is just part of it.  You don't go in thinking, hey, strategically we are going to try and release him at a certain time or waive him at a certain time.  It is really about getting these guys ready to practice with the schedule we have and so some of it pertains to that."

What went into the decision to let Champ Bailey go?

"It is always difficult and we are trying to find the best 53.  He is obviously a fantastic player.  It was really about these other guys and trying to find roles in regards to special teams.  It really ended up revolving around that.  As to what the role would be on gameday and then who is currently receiving the snaps ahead of him.  We spent a little bit of time talking about it and it is obviously always a challenge especially when you are dealing with a player like he is."

I am assuming part of it is that you didn't receive a lot of time to see him and evaluate him.

"Yeah, listen, you can only evaluate what you have snap wise and he went through a little stretch there with his heel.  Can that impact a decision based on reps? Certainly it can.  But again, I think, really we looked closely at the depth at that position and then how it was going to unfold on gameday in regards to all phases."

Can you talk about Brian Dixon making the team as an undrafted free agent?

"Number one, he can run.  He has good ball skills.  He stood out a little bit more (to) us in the kicking game.  It was just one of those guys that each week you kind of paid attention to.  He's picked things up obviously.  He has a lot of work to do coming from the level of competition he played at and yet we saw him do enough things both in the kicking game and at corner that were encouraging."

Was the plan to always bring Robert Meachem back?

"It was just part of the plan and again, when the player is terminated it is a little different.  He is free to sign with anyone else.  Fortunately he is someone that knows what we are doing and we were able to get through a couple of days here of transactions and then make that move."

With a guy that has as much history with the organization like Robert Meachem, do you communicate with him that maybe in a couple of days you are coming back?

"Yes, there is no deal made.  You are basically trying to say, hopefully if an opportunity arises.  Look, he is someone that I am real familiar with and our organization has a history with, but with that being said, we are fortunate that nothing else transpired between now and then and he is back on the roster."

When did you feel more comfortable with Shayne Graham at kicker?

"Well, we felt like he won that battle and we felt like it was pretty clear."

What are some of the things that Drew Brees does in the pocket that makes him really special?

"He has very good athleticism.  His lower body is real strong and so he is able to step up, climb, kind of shift a little bit to his right but all the while he is in the throwing position.  It is one thing to climb a pocket and take off or flush and take off.  His subtle movements are always with the idea of the ball can come out at any time.  He is very athletic and so his lower body strength I think is a huge asset to him."

Does bringing Robert Meachem back speak to Kenny Stills' health?

"No, listen, I know it's week one, I knew it was going to happen.  The best thing about being in season is we don't have to discuss any of the injuries.  He's working.  He's moving around out there today.  We'll list an injury report with the league and we'll go from there."

What have you seen from Khiry Robinson?

"He is doing well.  That group of backs, all of them are playing at a real good level.  There are unique roles for all of them and yet he will be a part of what we do.  He is a physical runner.  His knowledge of our offense in year two is much further along."

Do you do anything to shield all the success you've had against Atlanta in the past?

"Here is what else speaks to the results. some of these games have come down to the last possession.  We charted it today for them.  That is what they have to pay attention to.  It is the details.  You don't know when that short yardage play is going to come up, when the red zone stop is going to come up or when that special teams snap that is critical comes up.  Detailing the assignments and understanding, especially this early in the season week one, eliminating the mistakes that can keep you from winning. The turnover battle has been significant in this game.  I think to that point that is the biggest emphasis we make just with how close these games have been."

With Junior Galette being named a captain, what do you think that says about him coming from where he comes from?

"Every year we have our players vote on the captains and obviously his course to get here is well documented.  He is someone that is very competitive. It is very important to him.  He came here hungry and really made himself.  He is very talented, but made himself a complete player and I think there is a competitiveness about him that serves him well."

How satisfying is it for you to see guys like Drew Brees, Marques Colston, and Jimmy Graham who came here with questions about their health develop into the players they are today?

"They are three different players.  Drew (Brees) came with an injury.  Jimmy (Graham) came with just one year production and Marques (Colston) came from Hofstra.  A lot of different paths and one of the great things about our sport is you get to this point where you have 53 players and then 10 other players on the practice squad and regardless to where they are from, schools that they played at, the quicker they become a team here the better.  With players that have been around like that with Marques for instance in 2006, Drew since 2006 and Jimmy now.  All of them traveled a different path.  The majority, if not all of these players, are going to hit adversity in this process. The coaches are no different.  It is really the way you handle it and the way you react to it."

What would concern you about Drew Brees only playing three series the entire preseason?

"It would be more concerning if he wasn't receiving the practice snaps that he's had.  But he has gotten a ton of work.  He likes to take almost every rep so I think it would be more significant if he wasn't getting those practice snaps."

Do you and members of your staff watch Hard Knocks?

"Typically, to answer your question, I would never have the time to watch it, but in this case what you will do is have people that have the time right now maybe scan through, I don't even know what channel it is on, scan through the episodes to see if there is something that you might gain from it.  You would look to see if there was anything cadence-related, anything personnel-related.  Look, there is that conflict that always exists with what they are looking for is not always the best interest in the team they are covering and despite what they say.  I think that our personnel people would pay attention to it and bring something to our attention."

Would it be safe to say that Hard Knocks would never happen here?

"It's no longer a choice.  Now you go two years without making the playoffs then maybe you deserve it.  In other words, a rule has passed where it is not voluntary anymore.  We just have to find a way to make the playoffs."

Did Shayne Graham know all along that he was going to be the kicker?

"Yes, we had to buy time with the IR.  Now listen, when the termination happens it happens, but clearly he was someone that we felt won the competition.  I felt, we felt that both of those guys did a good job of handling it, but it was good to see him.  I thought he had a real good camp."

Are there any changes this year with you going into your eighth year?

"I think you begin to understand the simple elements that are effective that win.  When it comes up like a game like this, look at our division (this weekend), Carolina is playing a divisional game at Tampa Bay and we are playing a divisional game at Atlanta.  Obviously those games carry a lot of significance because the first goal that every team has on their board right now is find a way to win the division (and) eliminate the mistakes. There are certain parts that you become a little bit more experienced in and a little bit wiser I guess you would say and it still comes down to some of the base fundamentals.  Another thing you recognize is the roster turnover, again, 20 percent on average from year to year.  The thing I find myself occasionally having to do is not eliminate a message because you think they've heard it before because often times there is a good part of the room that hasn't heard it."

What did you see in Robert Meachem that wants you to keep him here?

"He is someone that I feel like still runs (well).  I think he is someone that can still help us in the run game blocking.  I think he is a big target.  He is pretty consistent and I think the key with him is his ability to go and get down the field.  I think he has his weight where it needs to be.  For him, there are a handful of things that he does well and we think he still does those things."

What are you most excited about this season?

"There are a lot of things. You're anxious, you're excited, the opportunity to be out here practicing.  Very quickly now we 're in a constant race to improve from day to day.  After this first game you hear everyone talk about how important it is for the teams that next week to make the corrections and adjustments.  There are a lot of new faces, there are a lot of new guys, like every year, that you haven't seen in this type of situation."

What goes in the thought process of putting a player on IR designated to return?

"You get one chip at it.  It allows that roster spot you might need typically or by rule it is six weeks and then two to practice and then after that, now it doesn't mean they would play necessarily after the eight week period, but I think you weigh your roster and the cuts you are making and make the decision."

Is it something that you would want to use earlier rather than later?

"Yeah in this case yes.  It varies from team to team.  We've used it before with Jonathan Vilma.  It is a relatively new rule.  I think it is a good rule."

Are you pleased with the health of the team?

"I think overall I would say yes.  I think it is interesting for us to study some of the soft tissue injuries and that went up a little bit once we got back here practicing outside.  As much as your emphasize hydration, nutrition, it is still challenging to keep their body levels at the right amount of fluid.  With respects to the three weeks initially in West Virginia, that part of our injury list was very small which was encouraging."

Do you believe momentum exists from week to week?

"Momentum comes and goes in games.  It comes and goes in seasons.  I think momentum is a real thing that is very important.  It is important in the flow of the game and then certainly teams start playing well. I don't know if it is necessarily momentum but you would definitely attribute to a player makes a good play and then all of a sudden you seen him have a better practice, you'd say that he could grow a lot from that.  So the teams do the same thing.  I think yeah, I think certainly it exists in courses of the season and most importantly in this game it exists in the game.  It will go back and forth."

Do you think bringing back Khairi Fortt that he can be the real deal?

"There's a little uncertainty to where he is at just in regards to the amount of snaps he had or was limited to based on the injury.  We think he has a chance to develop into a good young player and yet it is still kind of an incomplete if you will regards to the evaluation.  The rule varies.  It is only I think our second year with it.  How you use it is one element you didn't have two years ago, three years ago."

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