<span> <span style="">New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton</span> <span style="">Wednesday, September 9, 2009</span>
<span style="">Opening Statement:</span>
"Here's what we have with today's injury report: Jammal Brown with his sports hernia did not practice, Pierre Thomas (right knee) did not practice, Darnell Dinkins (left foot) did not practice, and then Usama Young with the right shoulder was full. Those four players are on the injury report. Today was another day spent on base and some nickel and tomorrow we'll move to the next phase of the installation."
How did Pierre Thomas' laceration happen?
"Over the weekend, he was chasing his dog in his backyard, had to climb a fence and he caught a portion of his right knee and he has six stitches. That's really not the issue with him. We're still working with his knee. We'll see where he's at tomorrow; I'm optimistic that we're going to get him some work tomorrow. That's the plan right now."
Is a scope a possibility with him?
"No. This is normal protocol with the injury that he has."
Will Jermon Bushrod start?
"Right now we're not listing any starters. It's Wednesday and at the appropriate time we'll go through the starting lineup and we normally list out, questionable, probable at the end of the week."
Would you feel comfortable starting him?
"I think he has had a good camp. Beginning in Houston the week we practiced with the Texans and then starting in that game, he has gotten a lot of snaps and has done a good job. He's working with the first group at left tackle and he has handled the transition well. He's doing a real good job."
Was Doug Marrone the one that pushed for him?
"We've had a few small college linemen that have gone on and had success, obviously with Jahri Evans. We had some background, both in the scouting department and from a coaching standpoint with Towson – where he's from. Our scouts did a great job of locating a guy like they did with Jahri a few years ago. When you look at his development, each year it has gotten incrementally better. A guy like him can kind of go unnoticed when everyone is healthy and then all of a sudden he's playing and you begin to see him against Mario Williams or better competition and he has handled that transition pretty well."
How do you match up with a receiver like Calvin Johnson?
"He's definitely a big receiver. He's a guy that you have to be mindful of on every snap. He has size; he has great speed and hands. If you just look back through the history of the draft as he came out he was unique with his skill-set and he has taken that to our level and still showed that same rare ability to make plays down the field as well as underneath coverage."
What is your comfort level with Mike Bell getting a lot of carries?
"He has handled his workload well. We'll have a pretty good plan on how we want to work these running backs. We'll see where Pierre is at tomorrow; but (Mike) has handled the workload real well. He has a good comfort level with what we're doing."
What changes other than the quarterback do you see in this Lions team?
"If you just take a look at the roster from last year's to this year's is different – which is somewhat typical when you have a new staff and a new program. Jim (Schwartz) has done a good job of transitioning the roster to suit what he's looking for and what their club is looking for. There are a lot of new people in place. (Larry) Foote, the linebacker, comes over from Pittsburgh. You can go on and on with different players that are there and will be playing this weekend that weren't there and weren't a part of last year's team. It's similar to '06 when we transitioned here."
How good is it to know the situation with Will Smith and Charles Grant?
"Really at the end of the day last night was when we officially found out that we were going to play with these guys this weekend. As I said to you Monday, each week we prepare as if they're playing and we stay and communicate with the league and make sure we're doing all the right things as it pertains to those two players. Our focus point now is knowing that they're going to play in this game."
What jumps out and impresses you about Matthew Stafford?
"He's big, he has a strong arm; he has been a winner wherever he has been. I was in Dallas when he was coming out of high school and I recall the success he had there and certainly he won at Georgia and competed at a high level. He has a very good arm; he has the poise and the moxy that you look for at that position, and at the end, that was the reason he was the number one pick."
This Sunday will be the first time you've had a healthy Reggie Bush since last October. Has he almost become an underrated part of your offense?
"He has been very much involved in training camp, we just held back on a couple of these preseason games to make sure he was 100 percent. Our packages and the plan for him we have been able to rep a lot and work a lot and he'll be ready to go this weekend."
Do you anticipate he'll be able to match the level of play he had reached last season before his injury?
"Certainly he would expect that same level and we would too and even improvement on the things he can do better."
Do you try to be even more disruptive going against a rookie quarterback making his first start?
"I think you approach it with your same gameplan defensively that you normally would. I think the myth is that you just pressure the rookie quarterback. When you do that, you have to be mindful of where Calvin Johnson is at and these other guys that can hurt you. We'll have a good plan in place, both in the base and the nickel and the other areas of the game to keep mixing things up and give him different looks."
Have you decided yet on who will be returning kickoffs for you?
"We haven't yet. I expect Reggie to get punts and Lance will be ready as well."
Did they run a fake punt in their last preseason game?
"I believe they did. A lot of times in the preseason teams want to get that on film. Against Oakland we had three called but we didn't get the look to keep it on. You have to make sure – today was a day where we took 10 minutes to work through some special situations that come in games and to review those things."
Do you think that's something they might have done just to slow you down in your return game?
"That's a good question. You have to be gap-sound and you have to understand the dynamics of when you double the gunners or when you single the gunners. Oftentimes the fake punts are called off when the gunners are singled because that's not the look they were designed for and when the gunners are doubled, maybe they're left on. Nonetheless, we'll make sure that we're ready – not just in the punt situation – onside kicks, fake field goals, all those things."
How frustrating has the situation with Charles and Will been?
"It has been pretty clear. The league has kept us up to speed. Monday we knew that we just had to get through Tuesday and then it was full speed ahead."
Does it matter at all that you have team leaders here that remember your turnaround in 2006 when getting ready to play a team looking to make a similar turnaround?
"With this year's '09 team we have leadership that has been in place and we have leadership that hasn't been. We lean heavily on both of those groups and both of those sets of players. It is a new team – it's a different team. There are still a number of people that were a part of that season, and yet I think everyone recognizes that that was a long time ago and the focus is really '09."