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Transcript: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton training camp interview - Monday, Aug. 31

Payton spoke with media about preparing for the start of the NFL season at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Video with New Orleans Media
Monday, August 31, 2020

Can you just go through some of the situations that you worked through today?
"We finished with two minute. At this point, we can't get enough of that. We also had red zone periods from third down work. Tomorrow will be a player's day off and then we'll hit that final stretch Wednesday, Thursday, Friday into Saturday."

We saw Andrus (Peat) back in uniform today even though his participation was limited, but just I guess how comforting is it to get it back out there and start working him back in?
"Yeah, look, it's good to have him back. He had a thumb that he was dealing with and like anything when a player comes back, we'll be mindful of the reps they're getting those first few days. But he obviously is an important part of what we want to do with our offensive line. It's good to have him back out on the field."

What have you seen from Emmanuel Butler? Does it seem like he's a little more confident this year?
"I'd say the last week, I've seen him make more plays. Last training camp, I thought he did exceptionally well as a rookie. He started a little bit slow this year. Not having the offseason, like you normally would, I'm sure contributed to that. He's big. He has I think really good ball skills. He's one of those guys competing for a spot."

There's a few teams that really commit to special teams. It seems like you guys are one of them with the willingness to give a handful of spots to special teams first guys. Is that something that became more of an emphasis over time or has that always been your philosophy?
"Look, I think over the years, if you went back we've had guys, Ramon Humber, Courtney Roby, we've had guys specifically that obviously played a position, but were going to be four core teams players. It's an important part of the game. When we have these discussions like we're going to have in the week leading up to this cut down, we'll constantly talk about how many plays will a player receives in the game, and that usually includes the special teams. I think the challenge for every team this year is you're not receiving some of the exposure you might have received in the preseason with some of these young players in the kicking game. So we have to do a good job of creating that in our practices, but I do think that's kind of been a point of emphasis for us all along. Fred McAfee, Steve Gleason, those guys were guys that greatly contributed to the kicking game. I think it's important and I think these guys understand they can make the roster (this way), (and) it's the quickest way to get onto the roster."

Do you feel with the cuts coming on this week, do you feel like you are in a good place or do you kind of say to yourself, man, I wish we had some more time?
"I wish we had more time, but you recognize the urgency and you recognize the importance of the decisions coming up. I think one of the challenges always during training camp, and in this case without preseason games, you're in a race to prepare to get ready for that first game. It's a little bit of a blind race because you don't know how the other teams are doing (it) or where they're at relative to their progress. You really have to just focus on the things that you can control which is our progress and our conditioning and where we're at. So obviously it's an important week."

Kind of along those lines, does all the COVID stuff make you think differently about roster composition when you're looking at cutting the 53?
"I think it probably really factors in with the practice squad this year. It's going to be 16, different than in years past. The makeup of that practice squad will be a little different with the ability to have veterans on that list. All in all, there's 53 on the active and 69 is the total and you really look at it as a 69-man roster. Certainly, there's some differences relative to who a team can pick up from another team's practice squad, but I do think that plays a factor in the makeup of your practice squad."

That post cut pick up area, which is often very active, obviously where you got Taysom Hill, how do you expect that to change this year? It's impossible to get any grades on anybody in anybody else's camp, right?
"Yeah, look, teams, I think will rely relative to the young players on their draft grades if they're looking to acquire a player from another roster. Yeah, obviously, there's no tape. There's no pro tape on these guys. So I think it will be different this year. I think it will probably be maybe a little quieter than in years past."

What do you think of the camp Patrick Robinson's having?
"I thought he has been playing well, he's had good production on the ball. He is healthy. It is good to see him moving around out there and I think he's having a good camp."

Can you specify whether Alvin Kamara's absence is injury or non-injury related?
"No, I really don't want to get into that at this time, nor would I relative to Malcolm (Jenkins) or any of the players that haven't practiced."

Did you know John Thompson, who passed away at all or just what can you say about his impact in sports?
"No, I did not and never had the good fortune of meeting him. But I feel like I was one of those 80's brats that grew up watching his Georgetown teams as a coach and watching his impact on a program that really was remarkable. He's one of those icons. He's one of those guys that I remember, man, it just seemed like we saw a ton of those games on TV, whether it was in the tournament (or not). I don't know how many years he coached there, but he certainly made an impact on a lot of player's lives."

Were you able to kind of ramp up the intensity a little bit today? It seemed like guys were kind of maybe not going full tackle, but at least getting some more work toward that end.
"Yeah, look, we were back in full pads. They'll be off tomorrow and then, we'll do the same the latter part of the week. We plan on being back at the (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) dome I think on Thursday, we're going to shell out those practice scripts and schedules here this afternoon, but I was pleased. I thought we moved around well out there today. I thought that it was pretty physical."

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