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Transcript: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton training camp interview - Friday, Aug. 28

Payton spoke with media about the team's scrimmage and assesses individual player improvements ahead of the 2020 NFL season at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, August 28, 2020

Can you just give us an overview of practice today? You had the official full pads and contact?
"Yeah, our plan was to get a scrimmage in. We were able to do that. I thought we got a lot of work done. We probably got through about eight different roles. We implemented the kicking game throughout. I thought we handled the heat pretty well. And there'll be a lot of film for us to watch now and get on with our players. Overall, it's not until you watch the tape, there were some good things, some things obviously that we'll need to be better at. But I thought it was good work this morning."

Can you talk about the day for D.J. Swearinger this morning and what you've seen from him overall? It seems like he had a good day today.
"Yeah, look, he's a veteran player. I feel like I know the player well, we played against him at a couple of teams. He was at Washington, he was at Arizona. He's someone that can do a number of things. I think he's someone that is helping us in the kicking game as well. So his versatility, obviously football IQ, all of those things are positives for us. He's a real good run player. I have kind of been encouraged with the camp he is having. I think football is really important to him."

A lot of times between seasons one and two, you see a lot of growth in the player. Are you seeing the growth you're hoping to see out of C.J. (Gardner-Johnson)?
"Look, he's played mostly in the in the nickel, we've kind of moved him around. He has he has strong safety flex(ibility), he's dime flex. I think he's a good athlete. He has good ball skills. I think he's going to continue to obviously receive more and more work and be an important part of what we're doing defensively. So I've been encouraged."

What's your assessment of the backup quarterbacks at this point in training camp so far? Are they where you want them to be or expected them to be at this point?
"Well, they're never where you want them to be. You're always, as a coach, wanting more and more. I think they are two different type players and yet, I really like the room. I think obviously Taysom (Hill) gives us a different type of threat at that position. And I think Jameis (Winston) has come in and picked things up very quickly. This last week for him has been really positive. I'm encouraged with their work. I think it's a good room overall and I feel like we have some versatility that position."

(Patrick Robinson) has seemed to have a few good practices, good start to camp. What have you seen from him?
"He's turned the ball over a few times for us and taken it away. He's stayed healthy. He's a real good foot athlete, he can run. I'd say your observations are correct. I think he's playing pretty well."

With Taysom Hill, it seems like every summer he gets these four weeks, six weeks to play quarterback and install as a quarterback. When do you turn the calendar and say, all right, now we've got to prepare you to be playing all those other roles that you're going to play?
"He's playing those other roles in the kicking game right now. When he goes in and plays some of the F for us, we kind of evolve into what we want to do each week by game plan. He is very smart and he understands the overall scheme. We will slowly have an install plan relative to how we see him fitting in when he's not at quarterback, but he is playing in the kicking game units just like he always has. He provides a lot of versatility."

Have you seen anything in particular in (Taysom Hill's) development? One month is all you really get to really evaluate him?
"Yeah, look, he's got a real good grasp as to what we're doing offensively. We keep pushing the tempo, but he understands our protections well and I think that with the reps that he's getting and the reps that Jameis (Winston) is getting, all those things we're building on, making corrections. So it's a process with those guys."

Would you say it's almost surprising a little bit how quickly Sheldon Rankins has sort of returned and looks quick again? Would you say you're at all surprised by that, I'm sure if so it's a pleasant surprise?
"Yeah, look, I think so and yet, I think realistically back in the winter, when we're projecting when players will be healthy and when we see them being able to be technically full go, this was expected. He's someone that is a tireless worker. He spent a lot of time in his recovery and rehab here. I'm encouraged to see him move around, because he's a big plus for us inside not only versus the run, but particularly in the passing situations."

Can I follow up on the defensive line and talk about the depth there? You sign a guy like Margus Hunt, who's been in the league for a long time, and I guess potentially how difficult cuts could be because you have so much depth and seemingly a lot of talent there?
"Yeah, I would agree. I think we're a little deeper there than we have been in recent years or really for the most part since I've been here. It's helped us because we're playing a lot of players throughout the course of the game. I think Ryan (Nielsen) and that group over on the defensive side of the ball (have) really done a good job of developing those guys. We're seeing a number of the younger players come on, Trey Hendrickson's playing well, Carl Granderson's playing well. We've added a few guys that have come in here and not only on the inside, but on the outside. (Malcolm) Roach, the young players had a good camp so those are good problems to have. We'll see how this thing unfolds here in two weeks."

Has Adam Trautman's blocking ability held up the way you thought it would?
"Yeah, look, he's working on that. I would say he's probably a little further along in the passing game and yet he's grinding on these installs. I think he's a good study. So a lot of that is his time on task and we see improvement each day. I've been encouraged with the camp he's had."

Is Jameis (Winston) more aggressive than the other quarterbacks in going down the field? It all seems like maybe he goes down a little more than the other two.
"I do not know. He has made some plays down the field. He is certainly confident with his arm strength. He has exceptional arm talent. He has done a good job. I think working in the pocket and I see someone who is athletic enough to climb and make some of those funny body throws. But he has also understood and stayed within the offense that we are running. A lot of it's his confidence level in not only the play, but the receivers outside."

When you guys are evaluating them, is it more you're looking at his decisions then like complete, incomplete, like, is it just day by day you want to see he's making better decisions?
"Look, it's all the above. Where's he going? Is it the right decision? What's his feet look like, his mechanics look like and then you know how well is he doing it? The first job for that position is to move the ball and get the team in the end zone and so you're evaluating every part of that."

Your team is in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome tomorrow night. What are you looking to get out of that?
"Just getting used to (it). Tomorrow will be really getting a feel for the turf. Every year they lay a new turf in there. It was a mixture of rubber and sand. Sometimes it's a little too spongy, sometimes maybe a little firm. So the first time we're in there, we're having a practice, but you're also getting used to the footing. And then there's enough time between that practice and when we practice again next week for them to add one or the other, roll it some more. So it's really the footing. And then obviously the lighting and all the other elements that some of these guys haven't experienced yet."

Is it a big setback for (Cesar) Ruiz to not be able to play today just because of the amount of team you did when there's not that much time left to get those reps?
"Yeah, he'll be fine. I think that we're dealing with a player that's very smart. He will be back very quickly and getting the work again. Obviously, you'd love to have all of your players out there, but it's just the way it is."

Do you see Malcolm Jenkins coming back this week? I wasn't sure if it was injury related or personal?
"Yeah, at some point definitely."

When you design stuff for a guy like Deonte Harris as a play caller or a play designer, I know that sounds goofy, but for you, is that fun? To try to come up with ways to get him the ball in space? Do you enjoy that part of play designing?
"I think all of us, we enjoy the part where it works in a game (laughter). Look, it's our job, and it is fun. But you're trying to come up with different ways that fit what we're doing and then when it comes to fruition on a Sunday, yeah. I think anytime, as a teacher, you see one of your students do well, that's why you do it."

Would it be safe to say Deonte gives you sort of a unique package to work with? Maybe you haven't had anybody quite like him before with that? Would you agree with that?

"Yeah, we've had a few other unique players, but I would agree with you. He's got a skill set that obviously gets us excited and we can build on it. I would agree with you."

Is there more of an emphasis on finding players like C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) who can do a lot of things defensively and play a lot of different positions. Are you finding maybe more of those players now than a couple years ago?
"Yeah, look, I think there's a little bit more pressure on the defenses to find guys that can cover in man and play in the nickel, play in the dime. People say it's a passing league and part of that's true. Obviously, you have to be able to tackle and play the run well, but his versatility is an asset, certainly."

Are Taysom (Hill) and Jameis (Winston) competing to be the number two quarterback or you liked the setup last year where Jameis could go into a game if needed so Taysom could be playing that other role on a game day?
"Look, number one, they're always competing, Mike (Triplett), very practice. The roles that they'll have for us on gameday will be determined and yet, every practice out here, these guys are trying to put their best foot forward and improve."

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