New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Minicamp Presented By Verizon Practice #3 Media Availability
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Can you evaluate the offensive linemen on the fade route?
"It was just a little pat and go warmup drill but you can see back to that baseball question. You can kind of see who might have had a chance. I think we got a lot of stuff done. We're still obviously not in pads. This time away will be fairly quick and before we know it we will be back at training camp and getting ready to go."
What is on the checklist so to speak until training camp?
"It's a little different for the first year players. The rookies will be here for more time, another week, those that are drafted head to the rookie symposium which is a mandatory league event. Then for the rookies, just under four weeks, they will be back early. Our injured players will get back the Sunday prior to reporting date. The rest of the team gets back in on that Tuesday we travel (to The Greenbrier). The main thing when the players are away you talk about it a bunch and we will have a meeting here in a minutes, is just making sure they are staying on top of their conditioning level, their weights. They have gotten to a point here, it is a little bit unique to football than maybe baseball, basketball or hockey per say, when they get started with their training it kind of leads them eventually into the season. I think most of these guys understand that and they have a plan with where they are going to work out, where they are going to train. We will get started that last week of July."
Are you pleased with the way the roster is shaping out?
"I think each year, I think obviously it is unique when there is a trade involving a player like Jimmy Graham, but in regards to the roster, the transition of players coming in and players leaving would be very similar to every other year. I think as we get back to training camp and we are actually playing other teams and getting to the preseason you will get a better feel for how the new players are doing, both with regards to free agents or players that came in via trade or rookie class. So far though, I think the work ethic has been good. These guys have done a good job paying attention to detail and you are kind of looking forward to getting back at it here at the end of the month that is about four and a half, five weeks away."
Is it fair to say that you support Mr. Benson?
"Obviously, I feel like if I don't answer that there is going to be something written in a way that is not fair. Yes, he has been a tremendous owner but with regards to that you would have to be really on top of every specific argument. For me as a head coach receiving a job in 2006 (from him), which was my first year (with the Saints), he has been, I've said this before, he's been a fantastic owner, (and) very supportive. I cannot think of one time where there has been something that really frustrated you. He is probably the main reason why we were able to win a Super Bowl Championship. How about we leave it at that."
How much do you feel like Dennis Allen has gotten into his role with the team since it's a little unconventional?
"I don't know that it is that unconventional. I think you could pick probably more than half the teams in this league that has someone that's a senior assistant on either side of the ball."
Maybe a role he is not used to?
"Yes, he's been a head coach. He's been a coordinator. He's been an assistant coach. His value is extremely important for what we are doing. He was a real good acquisition for us. He and Rob (Ryan) have done a great job being a part of putting what we are doing together. There are some things that we will tinker with when we get to training camp but it is easier when you have a background with a player or when you have the background that I have with a coach (Allen) like that. We were just kind of going through some of the older coaches or guys that have been here since 2006 and D.A. (Dennis Allen) was on that original staff as an assistant d-line coach in his first year. He is doing well. He is getting his family situated so I am excited to have him."
Do you ever notice a shift in your players focus once they have children?
"Yes, I think that obviously that the first step of a player who becomes married and then a player who begins to have a family, I think there are stages that certainly are different. On our roster I wouldn't know how many players, we are at 90 now, so I wouldn't be able to guess how many are married and then how many of those married players have children. But I think that often times it comes with their first born. We had a few of those this offseason and I think it is probably similar in the way it would be in the outside world."
When you are reflecting on the season and looking at the top teams and why they are on top, is it point differential?
"The bigger question would be, point differential is going to show a reflection as to how the season went overall. The better question is how's their point differential better than ours. How was their record better than others? And I think it gets down to some of the very basic things, the fundamentals of football, protecting the ball, taking it away. Everyone is coaching and teaching that but still the details with how you operate and each team is a little different, the chemistry, the makeup, the locker room. I know we are anxious to see how this team develops and begin that process here in a month and a half or so."
Are all of tryout guys here to compete for a job or do you just want to get a look at them?
"No when we bring in the three players, we really want to get an evaluation as to A, we have kept players, Khiry (Robinson) was one of the guys I think about now that we kept on a tryout. We sign players an hour after this practice. There are others that we looked at and said hey, that's a pretty good impression. That helps us in regards to a short list in an event of an injury. Then there are others that we have had the chance to evaluate and we think we are going to wait and hold on. It allows you to gather information on a player maybe a little bit more specifically than if a player's just been graded and never came here for three days. Typically something happens when they are here, their grade goes up, their grade goes down or it goes up and we sign them."
What was the attraction with Josh Morgan? Was he a guy that you liked?
"A couple things. Number one, he is a versatile player, number two, Johnny Morton has experience working with him. He's smart, he's tough, he will block, he does a lot of things well. I think as we were beginning to put together the numbers at that position he fit a lot of the things that we were looking for."
You've always valued a blocker in this offense, I know Robert Meachem was great at that, who already has those credentials as a blocking receiver?
"It would be based on years past because, obviously, we're not in pads yet. I think Marques (Colston) has been steady, someone who's big enough and knows who to block is physical. Some of these younger guys who haven't had that opportunity yet will have a chance. It's part of the job description so you have to be able to do that, it's like a corner has to be able to tackle, it's not ok if he can't. I think that Josh (Morgan) is someone that on film has shown that he does that and that he does it pretty well."
Is that also a strength of Nick Toon?
"Yes, I think that's something that he can do well. I think the key is just getting the snaps, but I think we'll see his snap count go way up."
What do you think of the fan presence over the last three days?
"Every year it is fantastic. We have got what we think is the best fan base in the world so to see them out here especially in the heat, I think it is an exciting time for them because there is change and they want to get to know who some of the new players are, be it rookies or free agents. This is their first exposure to this team and then we come back from Greenbrier and finishing training camp here they will get more of that."
Sarah Thomas has been out here working the last couple of days and it's going to be her first year in the league, do you feel like there's going to be any level of acceptance that she has to worry about and will people even notice that there is a women calling the game?
"I don't think there will be any concerns that she has to worry about. Her focus will be on doing a great job. We feel like we've been a part of her growth. In our first training camp in 2006 in Jackson she worked it, in 2007 and in 2008 also so we've seen her progression more then any of the other teams have because she has been at seven or eight of our training camps in the last nine years so she's ready. I think that will be just the experience of being in your first year and those adjustments that any first year official would have."
Is there a reason for that, why she's been coming to these camps for a while now?
"I think regionally she lives in Mississippi."
With your daughter not being far from workforce age, what does it mean to you to see a woman in that kind of field?
"I think our league is funny that way in that we're looking for the best employees. Hopefully all businesses are looking for the best employees regardless of whether their male or female and I think that it's significant that someone like her has this opportunity because here's the thing, she's going to do well. It's not because it sounds good or (it's) a PR move, we've watched her grow and she's going to be outstanding, she's got the right demeanor, she's sharp. I think when you have a daughter you pay attention to that but yet if you didn't have children you would pay attention to it and it's important."
With the long break coming up do you spend anytime reminding the players of things that can happen off the field?
"Yes, absolutely. You'll go through it and talk about no news and kind of hit those issues. Yesterday we had a league security meeting and we'll have a meeting here in about ten minutes."
Do you ever approach minicamp with different goals that you want to accomplish than in the first few weeks of OTAs?
"It's kind of hard now, it used to be a little different but the practices per se are very similar to the OTAs. The restrictions and guidelines are identical. The only thing that's different in this three year minicamp is A it's mandatory and B you have a longer day with meetings and you have more time on the field if you need to use it. We really try to start at that first OTA and work our way through to this last practice with an installation schedule that marries or matches what they are going to get in the fall. I think from the beginning of that time, the minute you are having your first OTA practice, we're treating it much the same way with the fundamentals and kind of the nuts and bolts of what we want to do."
The way your schedule is set up would you ever consider canceling mandatory minicamp if say you had gotten a lot accomplished in the first few weeks?
"We felt like we got a lot accomplished and each year we treat it differently. We've had days where instead of practicing we've done something, I mean every year is different. The way it sets up now the schedule fits pretty well, the players get in in April, they start with the lifting and running and very quickly they are into the practices. We cut it short obviously today, a good hour short but I think you look at each team and you handle it accordingly."
It would seem like this year that you have six or seven guys, Anthony Spencer, Mike McGlynn, veterans who you might say were in their second phase of free agency. Was that by design to bring in more guys with experience and see how much they could help you?
"Yes, to some degree. Oftentimes, when that early money's spent, you have to be right on someone. That goes without saying, the free agency period extends itself, you're looking for leadership, you're looking for the right fit, (and) you have a vision for who you are signing. Hopefully we're right with the visions that we have for some of these veteran players because I think that we spent a lot of time discussing where we feel like we could use depth, where we feel like we could use a veteran player whether it be a pass rusher or a linebacker, regardless of position. Yes, I would say it's by design."
After the year he had last year, how excited are you about Mark Ingram moving forward and his career from this point on?
"He's very consistent, he's been a consistent player. He battled an injury a couple years ago but he's a competitor. Obviously, a guy who has had success not only at this level but at the college level and he'll be a big part of what we are doing this season."
You went into the offseason saying everything will be reevaluated, any plans on making changes to training camp this year compared to last?
"Well, the layout and the setup there is fantastic with regards to our schedule. Logistically, there were a lot of things that we found to be really, really good. I think a lot of it will be how we practice, the intensity of which we practice, the attention to detail. From a logistics standpoint, I don't see a lot of things changing but hopefully our preparation and the focus on all the things that are important to win football games is better."
Bobby Richardson has been shining in a few of these practices, what are your thoughts on him so far?
"It's hard to tell when you are one of those linemen. I'm kind of slow to make any glaring statements about guys when they aren't in pads right now. Those guys count on playing off blocks and we'll have a good chance to see these guys because the next phase for us will be where we are in pads for a long period of time."