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Transcript: Sean Payton training camp conference call - Monday, August 17

New Orleans Saints coach spoke with media about his impressions of the Saints' first padded practice

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Training Camp Videoconference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, August 17, 2020

Your initial thoughts on the first day in pads?
"It was an hour and a half. I thought we got a lot done in a short period of time. Overall, I am pleased with the conditioning level of these guys for the most part. We will look at the film and (it) seems like we have been going here for a while. Today, obviously, changed with the pads and from a (practice) period standpoint, we worked on a few different things. But, overall, I was pleased."

What's this new normal like for you instead of us walking to the podium, we're here on a Zoom and what's all this sort of been like for you?
"You just get used to it. Coming to work every morning involves, receiving an email (to confirm health status), filling out your email, coming into the mobile unit, getting COVID tested, picking up your tracer, there's a handful of things and so this is no different. I felt like we walked halfway through the facility to get to this interview room, so this might change, but anyway, all good."

We have not had a chance to see a whole lot of Emmanuel Sanders, but how has he been adapting to what you guys have been teaching and wanting from him so far?
"I think well, I think, look, John (DeShazier) he's a smart player. Certainly (he) played a number of years in this league, 11 years. He's a guy that transitions well. I think he's a good route runner. He's very elusive and I think slowly but surely he's picking up the terminology and some of the nuances relative to what he's doing."

What will be your plan with (Erik) McCoy and (Cesar) Ruiz? Will they take turns every other day, every other week? Are you going to stick with one?
"Yeah, we're evaluating both of them. They're both receiving plenty of work. McCoy is receiving work at center, Ruiz at right guard, and then probably every second or third day we'll evaluate flipping them around. So we're rotating those guys along with Nick Easton inside. We feel like, obviously, all those reps are important and I think overall he's (Ruiz) a pretty quick study."

Are Josh Hill and (Andrus) Peat dealing with injuries today or is that excused absences?
"Yeah, look, we have a few things. Josh Hill's someone that, heading into camp, just had a tweak, we've been real mindful of where he's at. He's close to being back out on the field. I'm not going to go through daily injuries. You guys know that, especially during training camp."

What do you like about P.J. Williams? Just his range and ability to play middle of the field and that?
"Well, I like the fact that he's smart. He has good ball skills, he had a caused fumble today and an interception today. So he's one of those players that I think has good football IQ. So it's good to give him some additional work. He also is taking snaps of playing in the nickel and so he has some versatility."

I understand it's very early in the process here, but what's kind of something that excites you about this offense, in particular this group of personnel you have?
"We have some veteran players that have been in the system and some new additions. We are still working through some of the personnel groupings and wordplay, guys, but overall, of course, it starts with the experience Drew (Brees) has and coming back. Yeah, I think it is very early."

I was curious about Juwan Johnson, who looks almost more like Jared Cook and some of their receivers. I know this always gets asked with bigger receivers, but what quality kind of makes them more suited to wide receiver than maybe moving to tight end?
"Look, that's a good question. I think there are a few things we saw. We saw a guy that that we think moves and carries his pads well, he's a guy we think can help in the kicking game. If he is struggling out there at receiver, it is something that we have discussed. I think he has that frame where he could come inside, but we like what we've seen so far with him outside."

With some of the college football seasons being canceled and stuff like that, do you ever consider like reaching out to like some of those coaches for consultation or something like that?
"Look, we have enough going on here. We pay attention to it much like you guys do, but outside of that, occasionally there'll be someone that I'm familiar with and I might have a conversation with about what they're going through. But, we have enough challenges just in the building here."

Is having (Blake) Gillikin here, is that at all about managing Thomas (Morstead's) reps or is it getting a look at it additional punter because of the season and the possibility of players testing positive for COVID prior to a game?
"He's done well. Obviously, he can he can give us kickoff snaps, he can give us punt snaps in (practice). I think it just does two things. Number one, we're evaluating a good, young player. Number two, it helps relative to the rotation when either Thomas or Wil (Lutz) are taking a day where they're not going live with their leg."

How much has Zack Baun been able to absorb quickly? It looked like he got some valuable work today.
"Look, I think he stepped in and had a good practice today. Yeah, I think, obviously, there's a learning curve, but I think he's handled it so far, pretty cleanly."

I know you guys already had a pretty significant ramp up period. But even with the pads on for the first day today is there still a ramp up period that exists now where it's not really full contact for a little bit from a soft tissue and legal standpoint, or is it full go?
"Look, I think we've used up all our ramp up terms and the word ramp up, so we've ramped up plenty in we're now there. There's no more ramp ups. You only receive so many ramp ups, right?"

Can you speak about what you've seen of Tommy Stevens and his willingness to pick up other positions?
"Yeah, look, he's working it at the Y position. We're playing him some at the F position. He's athletic. He's young, he has a lot to learn, but he's putting forth the energy and the study time to do it."

Does going with 80 (man rosters), is that a significant difference in just your rotations and how many groups of players you have?
"No, we've done it before, I don't think it's that significant. Obviously, when you're into preseason games, it can affect you a little bit more. Right now, we are a little bit more in a preseason mode. Much like you would be in college getting ready to play a month from now."

I know this is going to be a weekly question, but what is your evaluation of Jameis Winston after getting to see him throw and run some plays for a couple weeks now?
"Look, he's doing well. I've been pleased. He's in great shape. He has a real live arm. Man, I love his attitude, his work ethic. He's doing very well."

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