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Transcript: Sean Payton OTA Media Availability 5-23-19

Saints head coach speaks to the media following Week 1 of OTA workouts

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
OTA #3 Media Availability
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Early impressions of Jared Cook?
"He is picking it up. I thought he had a good rookie camp (first week of OTAs). He's smart. Obviously there's a lot that goes on with that position. But, he's someone that has played long enough and there are some nuances (that are different here), but he's done well. Look, what he did in Oakland was similar to a lot of the things we do formationally. But he's smart and he has range, you see his route savviness and his ability to get in and out of cuts. The best thing he does is run after the catch. It's hard to measure that out here when we're not tackling, but he's real good that way."

And it's just his years in the league. I'm guessing when you talk to him it's different than talking (to a rookie). Especially coming off an OTA. He's been around a while, right?
"He has been utilized in different ways. He is explosive. He runs extremely well. I think he's in good shape. It's the first time that he and Drew (Brees) are working together and you know they'll get a ton of reps and a ton of work in between now and when we get started in the end of July."

Your thoughts on the discussion regarding the new instant replay coaches challenge rule at NFL Owner's meetings this week?
"They didn't tweak it yesterday. What they did yesterday was they allowed the competition committee (to look at it) in the upcoming weeks, after we began to watch some of these videos, all the teams head coaches are going to basically see the same OPI, DPI video. So, what was voted on yesterday was the ability to tweak, which simply would put it in the coach's hands inside the two minutes rather than replay's hands."

With that being said, the helmet to helmet (rule). That'll be the same?
"Nothing's changed relative to the vote yesterday. The vote yesterday was just simply to see if they wanted to take a look at OPI, DPI. Their concern is that there's two or three or four stoppages in the last two minutes of a half or a game because of maybe the contact that was seen. Would we rather have the coach utilize the challenge flag as opposed to the replay upstairs? That was it. The vote yesterday was simply to allow the committee to change (the rule) in the next coming weeks, from one to the other. So it's not going away. It's just a matter of how we're going to handle the last two minutes."

Do you think the competition committee will address, before the season starts, as far as missed calls on helmet to helmet, like what happened in Dallas last year?
"Yes. That's already been looked at, addressed, discussed. That's already taken place, how do you correct those things? But that's not something we're discussing right now."

What's it like having Travin (Dural) back, as a part of the team after his injury last season?
"He is healthy. He has had a whole offseason to get healthy. I think he is in better shape. He's a little stronger in his lower body. So, it's good to have him out here so we can get an evaluation and begin to work with him."

What did you see from Sylvester Williams a couple of weeks go?
"We felt inside, there's a presence. We like his size. I think we're bigger on the defensive front than we were a year ago this time. I thought he handled those three days (rookie minicamp) pretty well."

What are you seeing from Cyril Grayson Jr., the LSU wide receiver so far?
"Yeah, he's a guy that can run exceptionally well. He was a little bit limited relative to the experience he's had, but he's been in a few camps now. So, I think the first thing is speed. We will have a chance to look at him in the return game as well. But, he is someone that runs exceptionally well, but he seemed to pick things up again quick. He's been with a few offenses already now, and I think this is his third (offense) in this league. So, we'll take a look at him."

I know he (Cyril Grayson) was a track guy. What would you call it? Is it elite speed, even for this level?
"Well, it would probably be a little too early to say, but he runs well, which in our league is important. He runs exceptionally well."

You need to see him in pads too though?
"(Need to see) all of these guys. But look, he is behind (in football development). Just when you look at snaps played prior to coming into this league, and yet there is a trait there that other teams have seen and we too have seen the same thing. So we will look at them."

What's the hardest part of adjusting to the new guys and making adjustments after you're getting them acclimated to your program?
"As you install each day it's hard to evaluate a player when he doesn't know what to do. And so knowing what to do is the starting point, It's almost a prerequisite, they're not going to learn it right away, but it's the process of learning what we're doing and then how we're coaching it. They're all lifting and running right now. Some of them are in better shape than others, but again, it's May."

Do you find yourself scrutinizing the center-quarterback chemistry more than you might have done in the last couple of years now that Max Unger is retired and there is competition at the position?
"Well, I'm sure we will. I think Nick (Easton) is a guy that has played center and started for Minnesota and has experience, certainly (Erik) McCoy's someone who has played a long time, be it at the college level. So, you have to work through some of those things, anytime you make a change at that position."

As far as the return game, like punt return where there have been struggles the last few years, have you addressed that to flow not only with individual players, maybe scheme or what?
"Yes. Right now, there's only so much you are doing, so we have candidates, and we get a chance to work on the technique of what we are trying to do relative to (punt) rush, relative to our return game. Darren (Rizzi) and those guys are working on (figuring out) what are the strengths of our players? And yet, it's an area where there's a little bit of meat left on the bone. I think we can improve and I am sure that, Darren, Phil (Galiano) and those guys would agree. But, the early steps in the process right now are just the individual technique involved, (team) technique involved and what you are trying to do relative to the return game."

What attracted your team to Latavius Murray?
"Well, we had seen him (with) two different clubs. First off, he has great football makeup. He's smart. He has real good speed and he's a downhill runner. I think he fits with what we're trying to do."

What's your early interpretation of J.T. Barrett?
"We've had him now for a little over a year. He's doing well. Yes, he's further along obviously now than he would have been a year ago at this time. He has to continue to work through his progressions, but this is the time of the year where those guys are getting plenty of work in reps. So he's working at it."

Anything new with Drew (Brees) or anything different you notice here? Same Guy?
"He's in good shape. Nothing to report, that's a good thing."

Sean, where's North Park? (College of rookie CB David Simmons Jr.) Where's, that University?
"I believe it's up in the Midwest. I think it's in Illinois."

Is it NAIA?
"I think it is Division 3. Augustana, Ken Anderson, that was your era wasn't it (laughter)? Wheaton College, North Central, Elmhurst, a few of those names."

The League said they are asking teams to cut down on high-impact contact drills, such as the Oklahoma drill. What are your thoughts on that?
"I think we're always monitoring what we do in practice. No one is in pads right now. And so I think the big emphasis is when training camp begins. I'm familiar with the Oklahoma drill. That's not something that we work on, but look, when you just get a handful of drills that are heavy in training camp, they understand that we're in pads a little bit more than we've been. And then it's, how do we address that? And so each club looks closely at how we can keep our players on the field healthy."

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