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Sean Payton: "We Had Some Nice Defensive Plays Today"

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Minicamp Media Availability Transcript
June 5, 2013

Opening statement:
"Guys that didn't practice were Benjamin Watson, Ryan Steed and Terron Armstead.  Today was a lot of what we did yesterday, more red zone work, third down specifically and we did some dog and blitz.  We had good tempo again, it's kind of hot but I think they are dealing with it pretty well.  This afternoon we will be back inside for more of a walk through."

What does John Jenkins need to do to catch up the most?
"I think for a guy that plays the nose, pad level technique is number one. He is going to be playing against stronger offensive fronts, and then there are some nuances with the line, so the technique, the stamina, and playing with that pad level and on a consistent basis I think would be some things that come to mind.  Obviously we pay a lot of attention to a lineman and assignment, so there are some things that will come easy to him because he has experience at that and then there will be some other things that he has to work at."

Is it a good thing that he has played in a 3-4 defense?
"Yes, I think so.  We had a chance to spend some time with Todd (Grantham) and so certainly, him having played that position helps."

How many roster positions are open in your mind?
"It's simple math, there are 90 guys here now, 53 in training camp and a practice squad, so I don't know specifically or envision any more additions or subtractions with this 90 although that changes a lot. But I think it is every time this year, and now is the time to prepare those guys for that competition.  Certainly we are evaluating now, but it is hard to make fair evaluations until we get into the pads and they are able to block, tackle, and do the things that are necessary in football."

How encouraging was it for the red zone defense as far as making the quarterbacks double-clutch a handful of times without a pass rusher?
"Yes, we are getting a handful of looks, pressure and looks where they are dropping into coverage.  There is always kind of an even flow in practice and I think we are doing some really good things.  It was our first really day and a half (with) yesterday's morning practice and today's morning practice where we installed red zone, so prior to this (with) the earlier OTAs, we haven't gotten to (it), so we try take a teaching schedule that starts with the first OTA and progressively work through minicamp and then next week's OTAs, where what's going to be very similar to their training camp install.  I thought we came up with some really good plays defensively today, especially down there."

You said you wanted to focus on the run game when you came back, how are you doing that?
"I think it's probably a little bit of everything. Number one, it's hard to do that right now besides the installation and walkthrough reps, but I think it's finding those things that our players do well and being committed to those things, (going back to) when we had success here offensively (in the running game). I think oftentimes it appears that we are throwing the ball a lot and yet when we have been really successful, we have had good balance, and I think that's important."

What sort of challenges, as a play caller, when you look at Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas, trying to find the right mix and right plays for each of them on the field?
"We try to look at our tendencies and reports.  There are going to be certain amount of tendencies, 70-30, 60-40, those are alright, you just want to avoid the ones that really, eight times now this is what you have done and every time it's been done there, those are the ones you want to pick out so that it's not 100 percent certainty for the opponent. That's something that goes into each game."

What do you see in Mark Ingram after being away for a year?
"Number one, I think he is healthy, he is moving around real well, he looks sudden and again this is all in shorts, but I'm excited to see him play this season.  For a lot of players, it was disappointing last year, I think that obviously he will have an important role in what we do."

How well did Ben Grubbs fit in here last year?
"I think he fit in real well.  Number one, he is a great guy in the locker room, smart, is a hard worker, and fits kind of the profile we are looking for on this team really smoothly."

How contagious has the positive energy been around here the past few weeks?
"Following a season where there was disappointment and you didn't have a record you wanted, I think it's pretty common for teams to get excited about the new start and they get excited about the start of the next season which really began after the draft and these minicamps.  So, I think more than anything else, we have a lot of new faces, (many) are new to me, but aren't necessarily new to the locker room.  I think they have been working hard though."

Looking at Devery Henderson and his time here as a run blocker, is that yet to be determined who will be the run blocking wide receiver you can count on?
"Devery did a lot of things well, certainly blocking in our running game is something that he took pride in and I am anxious to see who that is, I'm anxious to see who can help us in the kicking game.  When you have to start looking at the receiving position, there is a lot of competition there. Some of those little things can help a guy make a team.  A guy can come out and cover a kick, and then we have a vision for how many snaps he can play in a game.  But hopefully that will be an area we can be better at, number one overall as a group. Finding his replacement will be important."

Offensively how do you find a balance between taking what the defense gives you and finding a way to get the ball to Darren Sproles?
"We are trying to put a lot of guys in position to get the football, sometimes the defensive progression might take us to a certain player.  Certain plays are designed for guys like Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, and Jimmy Graham; it's part of the flow of the game.  With Darren, he has a unique skill set, he's sudden, I still see him as a valuable runner as well as a receiver, so it's really having a vision for the defense in regards to what we are getting and how can we take advantage of that."

Aaron Kromer and Bret Ingalls have both been running back coach and then switched to offensive line. Why is that an easy transition for coaches to make?
"I think it's an easy transition because of their past experience.  Aaron Kromer came as a running backs coach, but if you really follow his career path up to New Orleans, he worked for a number of years as an offensive line coach.  Bret Ingalls would be the same way, he came here as a running back coach, but he has worked for most part of his career as a line coach, both of those guys.  Dan Roushar, who is now our running back coach, has been an offensive line coach for a large part of his career, so the transition becomes smooth because of the experience.  And then there are a lot of things, I think it goes the other way, having a guy with an offensive line background coaching the running backs helps us in regards to protection, what the line is trying to do and how we are trying to block a run, so I think it starts with that and then the transitions (have) worked."

Will Bret Ingalls do as much as a run game design, run game coordinator role as Aaron Kromer did?
"Yeah, it will be a very similar position."

What about Pete Carmichael, will he call all the plays this year?
"We haven't even worked through all that, but Pete has been invaluable. He has been tremendous.  He spent all last season calling the plays and a large part of the year when I was injured (as well), so his role will be significant."

What is your favorite part about being back?
"Just the interaction with players and coaches. I think the most difficult part of not being here was not necessarily (missing) the practices or the games, but being around people that you care a lot about and people you are very close friends with.  So, that interaction, really (the) challenge of having a good practice or trying to put together a good work day or prepare for something, all those things factor in, but the relationships probably (count) more than anything else."

What is Kenyon Coleman's status?
"He was out there and he took reps. He's doing well."

Are you seeing Victor Butler's knowledge on the field from playing in this defense in Dallas for the last two years right now?
"Yes, I think it helps not only his knowledge of the position, but specifically for him is how he is one of the few guys out there on the field whose learning curve isn't probably as steep because he is very familiar with terminology."

How much do you look into analytics, like the Billy Beane stuff?
"To some degree, we look closely at numbers that we think matter.  I think each team does it differently, how much do you value certain things.  Throughout the course of the week we PowerPoint a lot of different things that we think specifically pertain to winning and losing.  That being said, there are things that are more nebulous in football than in baseball, but certainly we look at trends, tendencies, and numbers when it comes to officials, turnovers, red zone application, fourth down, two-point plays, maybe there are some who look at (them) more and maybe there are some that don't look at it much, but I think it's first the idea, do you buy that certain statistic in regards if it helps you.  If you do, then you apply it, we kind of go from there.  The two-point play is a good example, people have all sort of thoughts on the two-point play on and yet if they ever talk to someone who is actually calling a game, we might have five plays we might like inside the five yard line, and then certainly, one of those five would be a two-point play candidate.  Often times our top two-point play we ran it in the second quarter, so when someone says that you should go for two here, we, historically you guys know this, typically don't look at that chart until the fourth quarter.  And then when we are looking at it in the fourth quarter, is there a play you like?  If you already ran one of your two two-point plays already then chances are you are down to your third one and maybe you don't feel as confident about it.  There are games where you just can't wait to call that play inside the red zone or as a two-point play, so a lot of it depends on what has been run prior."

How important is it for David Hawthorne to have a good training camp?
"I think part of it is the injury and that he is getting back healthy now.  He has recovered quicker than we expected, so it's good to see him out there.  He is someone that played well when we saw him in Seattle and I think it will be real important because it is a position group that is making a transition, number one, and we feel like that (he) will be productive for us, so I am anxious to see and to get to know him more on our field."

Is David Hawthorne being limited by an injury?
"No, he is recovered from one, but other than that no.  You can't pay attention to the snaps in practice.  We are going to move guys and rotate guys a lot."

Some people are curious about Rufus Johnson, what do you see in him?
"Small school player, we think that he has some really good upsides in regards to his size, his stature.  We saw some pass rush from him. He became a size, speed prospect for us at the end of the draft.  He flashes a little bit at the postseason all-star game and has the stature and some of those physical traits you are looking for.  Obviously it's a lot for him coming from a school like Tarleton State, I'm anxious to see how he does once the pads come on."

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