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Transcript: Head Coach Sean Payton weekly conference call - December 12, 2019

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Can you discuss the losses of Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins and how you guys compensate?
"One of the things this year that we felt was beneficial was our depth at the defensive line position, carrying eight each game and getting into a rotation. So that when you lose two starters, the depth helps you, but the next week you aren't at eight again. We have a couple of guys that we will be training this week to get ready. Those other players are stepping in and will have to step up."

What made the evaluations of T.Y. McGill and Noah Spence stand out to want to sign them?
"There's a vision with each one relative to what they do well and how we would use them. They are in good football shape and I'm anxious to see how they do."

Has this year been a little more challenging than typical in terms of the level of some of the guys you have lost for significant time?
"Yes, it's been a little bit more than we're used to. You start with Drew (Brees' loss for five games), but it is what it is. You learn as you get older that there are certain things you can control. Those are the things as you spend more time focusing on than the things you can't control. Certainly (you emphasize) your preventative measures during the week and how you get guys prepared. You have to plan on the next player."

Are there one or two things that stand out in terms of not being able to get Alvin Kamara unleashed this year?
"This is always one of those topics where he will have those games where he jumps out and we'll call it a breakout game. Part of it is the way the games have unfolded. There have been good opponents, he was injured for a few weeks there, there was some time when Drew (Brees) missed and Latavius has jumped in. Each week, there's a different way that it unfolds. He's too talented a player. I'm seeing everything in practice, the way he prepares. His best football this season's ahead of him."

I heard what you said to the butcher about his questioning the decision to go for two in the first quarter of Sunday's game?
"Sunday after a game I'm going to pick up some food for dinner and you're (hearing) about a two-point play called. It got under my skin I circled around and brought my cart back."

Was it an actual quote?
"I was actually shopping for dinner at Whole Foods and people said 'He shops for his dinner?' Yes I shop for my dinner and go down the aisle with a cart like everyone else…Let's explain this…I never go for two early in games…With a personal foul penalty this year you can actually realize that penalty one yard closer to the two-point try or kick it from the 50. I didn't feel like kicking the touchback. I thought about kicking an onside kick. I felt really good about a couple of these two-point plays that we had going into this plan, so at the one-yard line I'm thinking we're going to get two points and we get the defense misaligned and don't have any success. The game ends. (I'm asked) Why are we going for two? Because I want to. We're on the one-yard line."

Do fans ever say anything really negative with you?
"No (joking). I wasn't really negative. I was kind of in where you are in the aisle, you have the produce here to the left, meats I made a right and I'm heading for the coffee. I heard one of them say something about why I went for two. I kept walking to the dairy and I said I'm not letting this go, I'm turning around and went back and he was fine. It wasn't negative. He was just wanting to know and I explained it to him and I just said I would never do it that early but when we get a penalty (opportunity) to be at the one-yard line, that's close. He got it and then I gave him a hard time. I said some of these cuts don't look real good to me. That was what happened. It was in jest."

How was the dinner?
"It was fine. Salad, you get your stuff and watch games at home instead of going out. It was good."

Does Taysom Hill's positional flexibility help you in a situation such as earlier in the season when Tre'Quan Smith went down a couple of times or Jared Cook going out this past week?
"It does, but it's not like we say to Taysom that he's playing wide receiver when Tre'Quan got hurt. It gives you personnel group flexibility. Considering him a receiver is one thing, considering him a tight end…We lost Josh Hill a few weeks back and everything (groupings) came to a halt. You are on the sideline discussing groupings and what we can and can't call, that was challenging for a minute. Because of the numbers on gameday sometimes the corner ends up playing safety. It's just how it is when 46 players are active for a football game, as opposed to a college game where you might have access to 100 or 90. So with a guy like Taysom, yes, I think it gives you flexibility."

What are the strengths in Indianapolis offensively, is it their running game?
"These guys run it and they defend the run very well. You combine those two things. You just watch them. They are extremely physical in the front. They're patient with what they do and defensively they do an awfully good job of playing the run. You're going be in it and have a chance to win a lot of football games with that formula."

Do you have any response or comment on Terron Armstead being named the team's Man of the Year the team nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for excellence on and off the field?
"He has been a tremendous teammate, someone that the players have great respect for, he's a tireless worker. I can recall the first game he ever started (at Carolina in 2013), (I knew) he was going to be good. It wasn't too big for him at all."

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