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Transcript: New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton training camp interview - Wednesday, Aug. 26

Payton spoke with media about defensive pass rush at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Video Conference with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

I understand you were outside today. What did you sort of get from that, I guess with the wind and all that. Was that something that played into that decision?
"Last night when we laid out the practice, the plan was to be outside if we could. If the weather was raining or such that we couldn't, we'd go in. Cloud cover, yeah, it was windy, but ended up being pretty good for us to be out there and practice."

How much more challenging does the wind make it to work?
"Look, obviously there's some quarterbacks that handle it better than others. It can be more challenging than the rain actually, but we're going to play in windy conditions, we're going to play in rainy conditions. I think it's important to understand how those can impact the game and then how you adjust accordingly."

Have you made a decision on how you guys are going to work in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this week and next week?
"I think we're going to plan on being in there Saturday of this week. Next week, we're still looking at the schedule, but we'll have two practice days in there before playing."

How important does that become, the work you do in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, if it's a scrimmage setting for the bottom half of your roster without any preseason games? I'm guessing that's a major day for half of these guys.
"Yeah, look, we're going to have some scrimmage settings out here in the grass as well. I think twofold, you're getting accustomed to the new surface that's put down, the lighting, some of those things. Obviously, we talked about this at the onset, each one of these days we're outside practicing is that important because there are no preseason games and yeah, we plan on having a scrimmage environment there, one of the afternoons we plan on scrimmaging out here this week. All of these practices are extremely important for guys fighting for roster spots."

You got more of a look at Cesar (Ruiz) at center today. What are you guys seeing from him now that he's gotten some extended time there?
"Yeah, look, it's kind of gone the way we had hoped. We're constantly here looking at moving a few guys around. He's handled the center position. Obviously, he's played it with a lot of reps in college. Just as important, Erik (McCoy's) handling the guard snaps. We'll keep looking at both of those combinations and hopefully settle into one that we're going to lean more towards before we start the year."

How difficult is it to evaluate pass rush and pass protection in this kind of work right now?
"Look, I think to some degree in the team settings because you're not finishing on the quarterback, and yet you get enough one on one pass pro work and you do see how guys are rushing the passer in team (periods), even though they're not getting the chance to finish. So, I think just as importantly, open field tackling, some of those things that we're going to have to look at in live situations, to not only evaluate the defensive player, but also the offensive player. Some of these guys receivers, backs, become a little bit more physical or a little bit better runner after the catch. We have to be able to see that and those are just some of the challenges that will be faced to practice rather than see it in a preseason game."

Is there anything different in the evaluation just of the newcomers given that they didn't have OTAs or minicamp to settle in? Does it take them a little longer to kind of settle in and start making plays and in this setting this year?
"Yeah, look, it is different and yet, their job each practice is to make an impression, make a positive impression, know what to do to avoid repeating mistakes and then effectively begin to do it on a consistent basis. So, I think it is different and yet, it's different for all 32 teams and so there is, each day that sense of urgency that has to take place."

On days like today where the weather is kind of a little bit different than normal, do you make a point of it to go outside for practice and just get guys used to this sort of condition?
"Well, our plans were to be outside to begin with, barring any lightning or heavy rain, and we felt like the weather held up. We're anticipating maybe a little bit more rainfall here, beginning this evening into tomorrow. So we we're fortunate to get this practice in. Obviously, it was windier. Like I said, we're going to play in some games where it's windy like that."

You mentioned that splitting Cesar (Ruiz) and Erik (McCoy) between guard and center, what are some of the traits that allow them to have that versatility?
"Well, look, they're both guys that pick up the scheme pretty quickly. They both have had plenty of experience at center. I think the position that neither of them have had an extended amount of work at is the guard position and yet, they are good foot athletes. So I think the mental part of it is a good start."

Across the division a little bit, Teddy Bridgewater waited a long time obviously to get this full-time opportunity this year. What is it from your time you spent with him that makes you confident he's going to be ready to take advantage?
"He's (and) extremely talented player. He's a tremendous leader. He's smart, he's going to work extremely hard. Our experience with him here in the two years he was with us, he was a guy that that knew how to lead the huddle, that prepared extremely well and again that had the skillset that you're looking for to play the position. So those are all traits that that you are looking for in your starting quarterback."

We saw a number of plays today where the pressure affected the quarterback whether it was a sack or a pass breakup. How's it been so far in camp? How's your evaluation been of your pass rush?
"Yeah, listen today, I thought the defense got after (it) pretty good. When we watch this tape, there were a lot of balls tipped before they even got down field. I didn't think particularly much of how we practiced offensively from the very beginning throughout the course of practice, and we're going to have to clean up a lot of those things. Defensively, I thought we did a number of things well."

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