New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talked to the media following Wednesday morning's practice. Topics included an injury update, a rehabilitation update on Heath Evans and Jimmy Wilkerson and the competition at the defensive end position opposite Will Smith.
"First a few morning practice notes, again we were working on the red zone. A couple of guys tweaked their hamstrings, we don't think they are serious – Patrick Robinson, early in practice and Tory Humphrey later on. We held Tracy Porter back in the latter half of practice with some back spasms. Overall, the work was pretty good. For tomorrow morning's practice, we're going to go inside so it will be closed to the public."
Do you have a prognosis on Pierre Thomas' wrist? Did you have an X-ray?
"The X-ray was negative, like we thought yesterday. We expect to have him back sooner rather than later."
Is there a specific time period?
"No, just soon. I think within the next couple of days."
Does he have a brace on the wrist?
"He has protective padding on it right now."
How key is it for Adrian Arrington to be able to contribute on special teams?
"I think when you get to those guys that you're taking to the game, like Courtney (Roby) or some other guys that we've talked about, special teams becomes real important for their evaluation, so certainly that would apply to him."
How are you evaluating the defensive ends fighting for that spot opposite Will Smith?
"We're rotating a few guys through there. Jimmy Wilkerson is getting out and getting snaps now and of course Alex (Brown) and Bobby McCray. The good news is that we have some depth and some flexibility so we're getting a look at all of those guys and we'll be able to do that more once we get into the preseason games."
Do you like what you've seen from Bobby McCray so far?
"Yes. He's doing well. These guys are fighting through it. The last two morning practices the sun has been down but we've had some humidity. Overall they're doing a good job."
Is there a frontrunner among the three of them at this point?
"No. Right now it's way too early."
How has Heath Evans been doing with getting one practice a day?
"He's doing well. Fortunately he hasn't had any setbacks. Mentally he's into it and his rehab has gone well. I was pleased with both his and Jimmy's rehab, both of them coming off of ACLs. Those guys have done a good job and worked hard at it."
Is it surprising to see Wilkerson as far along as he is since his injury was so late in the season?
"Yes. You just have to monitor the snaps, but he's worked hard and he had a good summer with the rehab. He's handled it well."
What have you seen from some of the new guys you've added to the punt return rotation?
"Obviously we've repped Reggie (Bush) and Lance (Moore). Rod Harper is a guy who got work a year ago. Tracy (Porter) got some work a year ago and we're just giving him more snaps now. Those four are getting the bulk of the work. We'll mix it up in the preseason so they'll all get some live snaps."
How do you feel about the way the backup quarterbacks have done so far?
"So far they're handling it well. There's a lot being thrown at them, not only from an offensive install standpoint but also what they're seeing defensively. I'm pleased. There's a lot of room for improvement. In Patrick's (Ramsey) case it's really his first exposure to what we're doing. Chase (Daniel) is a year into it now and then you look at Sean (Canfield), who's just a rookie; those guys are going to get a lot of reps in the preseason."
How do you feel they're throwing?
"Good. Their arms are holding up. Generally after about a week into camp, you'll start getting some soreness and arm fatigue but those guys are doing well."