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Transcript: Coach Sean Payton Training Camp media availability 8-22-19

New Orleans Saints head coach speaks to the media after Day 28 of training camp. 

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2019 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Post-Practice Media Availability

Opening Statement:
"Today we had a handful of situational work both inside and outside and we'll continue to make it more competitive here these next few weeks.

"Do you change what you do since training camp is sort of officially over? Or is it not really any different for you going forward?
"I said this last night, when training camp breaks, it means two things to me. It means number one, all the meetings are here instead of the meetings being (held) at the hotel in the evening. Then the second thing it means is that the players with housing can stay in their homes. There will be a number of players still staying in the hotel. Those are the two things that (are different). The schedule can change a little bit, but back when you were on a two-a-day schedule, when training camp broke, it meant you were into a single practice day. Well, we're already into single practices so the time shifts a little bit. This week basically we're finishing that hotel meeting and much like in prior years we'll move to a different schedule now."

With this segment of work on the field having passed, are you pleased with what you've seen so far?
"Yes. Look, it's been competitive. A little warmer today than yesterday. I thought they handled it pretty well. There's just so much that you need work at. There's so many different situations you have to cover and you're trying to prepare for everything and yet you're also trying to prepare them to think the way you think relative to timeouts, where you're at on the field, and how you have to play a game."

Did you feel like the ball was on the ground a lot today or am I wrong? Was it maybe not the most crisp offensive performance?
"Yes, I'd say defensively it looked a little sharper than the offense today."

At the beginning of camp you had mentioned a three-way battle at center. Now that training camp is in the books, your evaluation of your Erik McCoy and how safe is it to see he could be the starter?
"We're not announcing (to) you starting lineups right yet. Erik's been doing, well. He has taken a lot of the reps with the ones. We're pleased with how he's progressing and we'll continue to look at not only him but the other guys working there."

Is there a situation, whether it's the Jets game or the Dolphins game that Taysom (Hill) could (receive) reps with the ones?
"I don't know that that will take place in this game. No, it probably will not take place in this game."

Will you stay at 90 until the end or might you make a few cuts after this game to make it more manageable?
"Normally we'd stay at 90. That's not to say that we wouldn't switch out some spots possibly or make some moves. Obviously when it comes to that final weekend, there's a lot of transactions. You're paying attention to your own roster, but you're also paying attention to the 31 other teams."

How much do you like the way they do it now compared to 90 to 75 and now it's just 90?
"I think it helps when you get into preseason week four."

Is there anything about his training camp that will stick with you later or is it just sort of all (a blur)?|
"Look, you're building a foundation in training camp with this team and so hopefully there's a number of things that stick with all of us, whether it's lessons learned or positive experiences. I think that you go through the process, you repeat certain things, and you're working on their technique. When a player gets tired and he's in week six or seven of the season, there's a point at which he's got to rely on his technique that he's gotten comfortable with."

Looking at (Keith) Kirkwood on the team last year, how would you compare him and Simmie Cobbs Jr.? Are they very similar?
I would say they have similar traits. Their body types are similar. They're guys with strong hands that probably the closer to the ball they play, the better. I think that would be a good comparison."

Are you liking training here? After the years in West Virginia coming back now, it's been a few years here.
"Look, it's one of those things as soon as you get into a routine I think the challenge is dealing with the heat, but I think we've done that and managed it pretty well. I like our West Coast trip when we go out there to practice. All of that's worked out well."

As you approach to cutdowns, is that hard for you on a human level?
"Yes, absolutely. It's always probably one of the hardest parts of the job. I've been in their shoes probably at least three or four different times, (I've) been released when I was younger. Some of the players that get released, there's a good chance they're going to end up coming back through the doors here. We talk about that. Then some of the players maybe not so much. That part never changes really. These guys have put a lot in starting in the winter with all the conditioning and the weightlifting. There's a lot of investment and so it's difficult."

I know in the 24-hour news cycle, a lot is talked about in a third preseason game as being the most important one. Is that maybe more of a media creation?
"I don't think that's created by the media. I think historically that's somewhat true relative to how much starters play. Now does that mean around the league everyone subscribes to the same plan of how they're going to play their guys? I think each team is specific, but typically if you looked around the league, that third game is a game where guys would receive more reps maybe than they had. We've approached it that way."

Is the evaluation of the return game particularly complicated this year, just because you had brought in someone who's established and really good at that?
"I think that's a fair question. Hopefully we can get him (Marcus Sherels) back as soon as possible. In the meantime, we're looking at some of these other younger guys and (Deonte) Harris has done some things that are encouraging. It's not crystal clear right now if you're asking and I don't know that I expected it to be at this point, but we'll keep practicing it and looking at the lineups and the guys that we're asking to do it so that we can get better clarity and arrive at the right decision."

If you really have a good idea based on someone's career, what they can do and there's a reasonable expectation that they'll be healthy by the very end of preseason, are you evaluating the young guys now versus what they have done?
"Look, the young guys are being evaluated, period. What do we think they are? How are they performing now? What do we think they can perform to? The veteran players much the same way. Now you might not have to see it every day, but you're going to still at some point still need to see it. I think that's the way we've kind of taken it."

Is this rookie class exceeding expectations at this point given where you drafted and the number of picks you had?
"Look, I think I'm encouraged and yet somewhat reserved because we haven't played yet, but I'm encouraged with some of the players, some of the free agents. How they get here is the business of the draft. Once they're here, it's the business of evaluation. Hopefully we can continue to feel as good as we do. I think starting with our center (Erik McCoy) he's had a real good camp. He's playing well, I'm encouraged. And then when you look throughout this class, there's some players that I think can help us. How soon, we'll see."

When you look in the past, like Tommylee Lewis and his contribution as a receiver, does Deontae Harris have that ability to maybe to be a Tommylee?
"It's a good question. What are the things he can do? That's what we're going to try to find out. Because look, if you feel like you have something in a returner, then how many other snaps can you get from him? I think that's a real good question."

The New Orleans Saints had their twenty eighth day of training camp presented by Verizon, fans came out to support their favorite members of the Black & Gold.

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