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Transcript: Head Coach Sean Payton weekly conference call - September 2, 2019

Sean Payton discusses the Saints recent roster moves

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, September 2, 2019

After the weekend, what are your general impressions right now of the 53 (man roster) and some of the hard roster decisions you had to make?
"The first thing that's pretty consistent every year, I think in these first two or three weeks of the season there's generally a little bit more activity with each team's roster. That's not to say that we're expecting more or less and so it's a little bit of a work in progress to start. There were a lot of difficult decisions in regards to this year's 53 (man-roster). (There were) Some really difficult players that we had to make a decision on and that's never easy and it's always the tough part about this job."

The decision to release Chris Banjo along those same lines. How much of that was because you're comfortable with some of the young players that came up behind him, especially J.T. Gray and C.J. Gardner-Johnson?
"I think this: number one, he's such a valuable part of what we've been. He epitomizes what we're looking for. I would also add that that door is not shut. When I talk about the roster and we talk about some of the changes that can be made throughout the early part of the season, he's someone that has all the right things that go into winning games and being a great teammate and being a leader. That was definitely the most difficult decision, and yet we stay in touch here and see how that goes."

How do you guys envision Kiko Alonso? He's a guy that has started a lot of games. You have some guys that you're comfortable with at linebacker. What do you see his role being?
"Football player. My expectation is he comes in, competes. It'll be a transition and we'll let that stuff kind of sort itself out. We feel that we have a group of players that we have a lot of confidence in. The depth at that position has changed just a little bit and for us it was really an opportunity to add a good football player to the roster. I think it would be premature to try to anticipate how it unfolds, but we feel like he's someone that we've played against, he's a tremendous effort player. You see it and feel it when he plays. We'll be excited to welcome him here and find the right role as the season progresses."

On Carl Granderson, you now have a two-week window to decide what to do with him. What are you hoping to see out of him and just for clarification purposes is he allowed to practice with the team and attend meetings?
"Yes he is. We felt the spring, we saw a player that certainly we were excited to work with. Obviously, these other challenges for him personally have taken precedent, as they should. In the meantime, those two weeks he will be allowed to train. He's been away from football for a while so a lot of that will getting back into football shape, getting his weight where he wants to be, and understanding what we're trying to do."

Was the Kiko Alonso trade at all reflective of the limited availability of Alex Anzalone or Craig Robertson?
"No. It's a fair question, but it really was more about his (Kiki Alonso's) availability and the compensation and then us looking at that position group and really trying to help our football team. We feel like Alex (Anzalone) is going to be healthy for the start of the season. Craig (Robertson) will be someone that we'll discuss basically day to day and see where he's at, but a lot of it had to do with just another good football player."

Can you go into the decision to keep two tight ends on the roster? Was that just because you needed to have depth at other areas on the roster?
"Yes, and then I think what gets lost in the shuffle sometimes is the role that Taysom Hill played a year ago and (could play) this year. A year ago, I think we might have called him a receiver. I think he fits more of that F role. Certainly, he's at the quarterback position getting reps, but again it's not a set in stone spot right now relative to where we're at. And I would say we feel confident in the two we've kept and then also Taysom (Hill's) ability to play in that position."

When you're putting this roster together, how often do you just look at Taysom (Hill) and say, well Taysom can do that? How often do you sit in a room doing that?
"I think, let's just start with if he didn't play quarterback, I think the position we're playing him at would be the vision. And that's not to say that he couldn't play a defensive position, he just hasn't had the time on task defensively and yet you see defensive technique and all of the things he does in the kicking game. He's going to play a number of snaps for us, an important role for us. I think that he's a good football player and we're looking for guys like that. It's very easy to envision his game day role. It's very easy. To your point, there are a lot of things he can do and do well. He's one of the better athletes on the team."

When you acquire any player by trade or whatnot, what typically is the transition period for them to be fully 100%?
"The answer to your questions varies. I think (Scott) Shanle came in a week before the start of the season. (Mark) Simoneau came in the week of the start of the season. Both those two started at Mike and Will. Mike McKenzie came in the week of the game against the New England. I think depending on the player, depending on the experience with your scheme, offensively or defensively, I think in our league there's a quick turnaround. The coaches, everyone involved in the process, you know, dives in with the learning part of it and then you know he's in in football shape because he's been in a training camp and with another team, so he's, you know, up to speed with the players that are in this locker room. It's just the turnover relative to the scheme. I think it can vary. I think a lot of its dependent on the player."

If you had a player, anyone, coming in and you say, 'I need this guy to play pretty quickly.' Does it change that week for you all? Would you have longer days that you could specifically spend more time getting that player up to speed or does anything change at all?
"The schedule wouldn't change. It's the world we live in, weekly, in our league. If you just watch teams that have an injury in week one or two and there's a player brought in, you know, maybe it's not uncommon for us to bring a player in on a Monday or Sunday night and where he's on the field the following Sunday. That happens occasionally."

When you're looking at your defensive backfield and you've got guys like Vonn Bell, Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore in their third year together playing, how much does that help them on the field when they just have so much experience together?
"Well, I think the experience part of it is the key. Obviously they're together but most importantly they're in their third year. I've seen Vonn's percent (of snaps) relative to confidence and understanding what he's doing. Marshon, in a different way at the quarter position and then Marcus. Those guys, I don't know if you'd say they're seasoned veterans and yet they're past that part of their career where they're still – they're never not gaining new knowledge and information but they're certainly familiar with what we're doing and how to prepare."

This is a little off subject. I know you were asked about Joe Brady this summer, but yet LSU's had a great debut. Can you just speak to what really distinguished him when he was here and why you think he'll be able to have success in the role he's in now?
"He's someone that came in for us and was one of our coaching assistants and worked hard, late, did a lot of behind the scenes prep. Each week a lot of self-scout work, a lot of computer cut up work. I'd say his experience and his exposure in college with some of the RPO stuff that you're seeing at college level and some now at the NFL level. There's a great way about him. I didn't get a chance to see any of the LSU game or their results. But I'm sure he is helping their staff and helping them get to where they want to be. I think he's a real good young football coach."

Because of all the stuff you guys did with more use of RPOs and Taysom Hill last year, was (Joe Brady) kind of somebody who's brain you picked on that or was he heavily involved?
"Well, Taysom will a little more zone read driven than RPO driven. I mean we'd sit in staff meetings and we would spend a lot of time on some of these cut ups or some of these plays. But with Taysom, it was a little bit more for the zone read principle."

When it comes to replay challenges, how much attention do you get, how many cameras a network might have at a game? It's not always the same for every game?
"It's inconsistent. You are home and away. Your 12 noon games don't have as many angles. Your prime time, late afternoon or evening games do. It's kind of like a box of chocolate. Each week is a little different in where you're at and you just hope you get the information clearly. If you don't, then you're relying on your sight and the sight of others on your staff."

Could it factor anything with like pass interference calls knowing that maybe there is like a fourth receiver who doesn't have a camera isolated on him or anything like that?
"I think we've already seen a conservative approach by the league relative to how they're going to overturn plays or not. I'm going to pay attention to that and I think that nothing's changed relative to how many you have. You have two. And so, I don't want to be caught in the fourth quarter without any and an obvious one takes place. So I think we'll be smart about it. I think the league in the preseason, I would say they're very consistent and then I would say almost a stubborn consistency. They're going to have to see, you know, clear and obvious evidence, if that makes any sense."

As you prepare for game week and you look at the Houston Texans, how challenging is it for you as the game planner and knowing that they did a lot of roster shuffling in the past couple of days?
"I think that's always the case in the first two or three games of the season. You don't necessarily have the personality of a team per se, like you would in Week 11 or 14. It goes both ways. You kind of estimate what you think might happen with some of the roster moves like they would do. I know they're well coached. Bill O'Brien has done a great job there. He's a close friend and someone who I think is an outstanding coach. I think it's a tough team. They're physical, a team that was just in the playoffs. So, a lot of the focus this week, and it certainly is on the scheme of the Texans, but just as importantly would be on us."

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