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Sean Payton talks about facing the Buccaneers

Transcript of Sean Payton's post-practice press conference on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Opening Statement: "Merry Christmas.  Pretty normal Wednesday routine for us just with regards to practice and meeting times and preparation for Tampa."

What can you learn about the character of your team once the playoffs are off the table?

"I think throughout the course of the season you learn a lot about your players, you learn a lot about your coaches and you get to a game like this, the same thing.  You are constantly evaluating and I said this the other day, I expect this to be full speed, prepared, put in a good plan, the schedule changes tomorrow with the holiday obviously and that's what we are paid to do.  I think players will understand that, clearly it is a message that these guys understand.  This is a business.  Those players understand that and it is up to us to make sure that the plan we are giving them and the way we prepare and practice is conducive to that."

What is your reaction to Jahri Evans and Jimmy Graham being selected to the Pro Bowl?

"It is always, I don't want to say a challenging time of the season, but you are happy for the players that are on the roster and certainly the one thing we know here and probably rightfully so but when you are winning and you have success with that generally comes a little bit more recognition and when you are not it is part of the deal.  but I think that the opportunity for Jahri to play in another Pro Bowl when he's played in quite a few and Jimmy now the same way as representatives of our team is something that you are excited for and yet there's a handful of players that…I think most though they are wanting to achieve team success so it is a lot more rewarding when you are having success as a team and those announcements are made."

Did you see the bounce in practice that you wanted to see?

"I thought it was good.  I thought it was good.  We are kind of on a normal schedule until we get to tomorrow but I thought it was good."

Has Jimmy Graham played at less than 100 percent this year?

"He went through a stretch where that shoulder was difficult.  He's a tough guy to battle through it and I can't specifically offhand give you the weeks or how many but it was actually in this game (against Tampa Bay) earlier in the year that it happened on."

When a player receives a large contract people are always watching everything he does with a microscope.  Do you think criticism of Jimmy Graham has been unfair?

"It is what comes with without having success, whether myself, it comes with without teams' success.  That's something that I would say is very normal in our league and we understand that as professionals.  Every one of us is driven to improve and be better.  I know Jimmy (Graham) feels the same way.  But with regards to one, there are a number of reasons why we have not been successful and those are things that a week from now (we) will begin identifying and begin work right away towards the 2015 season."

What has Mark Ingram shown you this season?

"I think he's had a good year.  He's tough.  I think he's had one of his better years.  He's durable.  I think he is good in protection.  He does a lot of things well.  I said this earlier in the year when all of a sudden you started to see the week in and week out production, I am so happy to see that from him because look a year ago he labored and injury and still played.  The first thing I think of is toughness.  He is a good football player.  I am glad he is with us."

The fact that Khiry hasn't played as much since coming back from injury, is that a reflection of how well Mark Ingram has played?

"Well he has only really had, if you look at the opportunities a game, Carolina was a little bit out of a whack from a snap count standpoint.  I think we really haven't had that opportunity for you guys to see hey are they rotating the backs or are they featuring Mark (Ingram).  I think you're going to see a bunch of both of them this week and I think that obviously it's good to see Khiry (Robinson) moving around.  He played a big role in our game against Tampa Bay last time we played them."

Is the offensive line playing as well as they have in other years?

"Here is the thing though, this is honestly, and in all due respect it is Wednesday and I think that a week from now we will probably going to be sitting here and I think those are maybe more appropriate times to discuss each position group.  But I like I said, I think that it falls under a larger microscope when you are sitting here at six wins then the latter."

The offensive line was a big part of the last game against Atlanta.

"If you're asking me how did the offensive line play against Atlanta?  I thought there were things that were good and obviously there were some protection issues and yet I mentioned this on Monday, some of the protection issues had nothing to do with offensive line, that involved a safety or linebacker coming free and so they manifested themselves all of a sudden later in the game when you're throwing more.  One of the goals we set for was improving in the running game.  We have been able to do that for the most part and yet there are games where that balance has gotten out of whack.  Next week we will have a chance to cover the position groups."

With that late blitzer in particular, what would you have liked to see because you had them all blocked and they brought somebody late?

"It was a hug pressure guy covering the back so there's that timing of the running back who's going to get into the route and the guy who's going to blitz feeling like the back is in protection so it's just that timing of hey we are out quicker or we're going to hold our look a little bit longer at running back.  On the specific one you are talking about that would be the running backs pick up and it's obviously man covered so that cat mouse game goes on sometimes if the guy involved in coverage sees that his guy is blocked and he comes kind of a ricochet or add on pressure."

Does preparing the same way preclude you from looking at playing some young guys?

"I think I answered it already.  We're going to treat this just like we would the game we played last week.  We are going to play the players we feel like is going to give us the best chance to win.  I think the answer to your question is probably no."

Has Mike Evans exceeded expectations?

"I would say he has lived up to what we saw on college film.  He has a huge catching radius and I think he's taken that production you saw on college film and very quickly you see the confidence in his big plays down the field.  He's someone that you can be in positioning coverage and he can still go up and high point a ball.  Obviously he is a threat in the red zone.  In the last six weeks their big play differential in regards to the big passes has really spiked.  He had a lot to do with that.  He is really good."

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