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Sean Payton talks about Saints OTAs

Saints coach met with the media following Thursday's workout

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
OTA Media Availability
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Opening Statement: "Before go through practice I want to note that Jairus Byrd today is having a surgical procedure on his back for a disc.  It has been asymptomatic but it was something that we wanted to do and he as well to alleviate or avoid any issues in the fall.  He will be back in a week, so for this next week he won't be at these OTAs.  He will be going through basically his rehab and it is something that didn't need to be done but I think he and ourselves felt like it would be something that would prevent any issues in the fall.  He is the one guy that I will hit on injury-wise.  The rest of those guys I won't go through during these OTAs."

When did you notice or what brought it to your attention with Jairus Byrd?

"Probably during the last month during the weightlifting, and it's something that he has dealt with before.  This is something after the doctors looked at it and the specialist out in L.A. looked at it, (Dr.) Watson, he felt this was one scenario that would take care of it rather than try to (live with it through treatment and rehab…he wasn't having any pain.  It was asymptomatic and yet it was something we wanted to handle, especially with his position."

Would he had the surgery during the season?

"If it was during the season, you wouldn't go through the procedure, you would treat it symptomatically then.  If it was sore, you would treat it.  We are just deciding to do it now."

Do you think he will practice during this mini-camp/OTAs?

"I don't know that he will. Our guess will be that we will be real cautious and probably get him back here and he will start up training camp with no problem."

Can you talk about how nice it is to see Kenny Vaccaro out there moving well?

"We've got a lot of those guys back.  There are a handful of guys that are still kind of working through an injury and going through rehab, but overall it has been pretty smooth."

Do you ever go back to the past year's rosters and some of the same guys and their improvement?

"The main purpose here in the offseason is the weight room and their conditioning.  The drills we are going through hopefully allow them mentally to play as fast as they can when we put pads on.  It is really hard during these OTAs to (evaluate on-field play), you can evaluate an assignment and those types of things but it is hard to draw conclusions.  Every year there are guys that maybe go through a certain segment here and when we get into pads they look a little different or play a little differently.  It is just the current format of how we practice and right now there is a lot of mental (aspects) of what we are doing and yet the most important part still is the weight training and conditioning. This is a chance to get out and work with them on the calls that we are making, their alignment and hopefully that installation that we do now carries over into training camp."

Can you talk about what you have seen from Patrick Robinson?

"He is moving around well and there is some rust I'm sure he is working through.  His rehab has been real good.  He has worked real hard at it and he seems to be moving pretty fluidly.  I am sure as he continues to do that and gets more comfortable with football movements, that'll help, but he has had a good offseason with regards to his injury and how he has approached it."

Do you think this is an important period for Patrick Robinson?

"Look it is important for everyone.  It is important for him because of the injury and there is always that sense of urgency."

Can you talk about the energy out here today?

"The attendance in the offseason has been outstanding.  We are fortunate enough to be in one of those areas where the climate is conducive for the players to come here and train.  I am sure after the time off and the early part of the offseason program, which is basically the weightlifting and the classroom element to get into this third phase, the OTAs and the minicamp here in a few weeks, is something I'm sure a lot of these guys are anxious for."

Dallas lost a linebacker to a knee injury in OTAs, how big of fear is that?

"It happens every year.  Anytime we practice football we always worry about an injury.  It's football."

How is Champ Bailey off and on the field?

"Real sharp.  He is in good shape.  He is moving well.  He too is coming off of a foot, getting himself healthy, but he's 100 percent now and made a real nice play on a ball earlier today.  He is doing well."

When you see younger guys and veteran guys out there together, is there a huge gap between them?

"I think the schedule this year gave these guys a little bit more time than in the past.  They were able to (come in to the facility) right after the draft, because of a May draft, they were here (that) Monday and we were putting them into our strength program, separate from the veterans but nonetheless they were in kind of a football school.  Typically their first day or weekend here would be just the rookie minicamp.  I think it has helped them a little bit with the schedule.  With that being said, they are behind some and they know that, but there is a lot to be learned from a standpoint of watching reps ahead of you.  I think to see guys do what we are asking them to do, to see that is very helpful."

Can you compare Darren Sproles to Brandin Cooks even though they play different positions?

"I think that would be accurate.  Brandin is a wide receiver and certainly he can do things that you mentioned.  Darren by nature was a guy we felt very comfortable handing the ball to as a running back.  Both are explosive, both have some things, some quickness, but they are different positions."

Did you see enough in Patrick Robinson in the past to keep him around after so many injuries?

"Yes, he is still a young player that we've seen develop.  He is someone that can run that we think has good instincts.  I am sure he is just as anxious to get out here healthy.  We felt last offseason he did a lot of good things.  He is right there (as) one of the guys competing for (playing) time and for a spot at that corner position."

What kind of jump do you expect to see from Kenny Vaccaro this year?

"Just the progression, he is certainly someone that is comfortable with the system.  In your second year, your familiarity with the terminology and the overall understanding of what we do (improves), but he is a football player.  He enjoys playing.  He is a real good tackler.  There is not a lot of leaky yardage and I would agree with you that prior to his injury, each week he kept getting better and better.  For him to get aligned, get set up, make the calls, that part is probably a lot smoother than it was this time last year."

Do you have more depth defensively than offensively this year?

"I think we are younger defensively than we are offensively.  The depth question really would be position-specific.  At some positions yes and at some positions offensively we are deep."

How do you like where Khiry Robinson is this year?

"He is someone obviously that has more confidence now.  You see him, just from an assignment standpoint, understanding the protections much quicker.  That took a while for him last year.  I think (with) a year under his belt, the overall understanding of all the things he needs to do at the running back position is a lot better.  I think a young player, a running back in particular, the running part of it is something that would be the easier part. The protections and the different things that go into the (blitz) pickups are more challenging.  He is a lot further along than he was this time last year."

Are you going to evaluate Tim Lelito as a center going into training camp and the preseason?

"Yes, It's hard for a guy to win a position until we get into training camp.  With our depth there, we have a few other younger guys we're rotating in.  We always have the flexibility of signing a veteran.  We kind of look at that and really look at this 90-man roster right now each week at a time.  There will be some changes still before we get to minicamp.  There may not be a lot of them, but each week we will look at opportunities to sign players.  Tim (Lelito) is someone that has handled the transition right now pretty well, but he is going to have to, when we get into training camp, do it in a live setting."

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