From the New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton answers media questions after practice
How did everyone look after a quick turnaround from yesterday?
“I thought overall, situationally, we got a lot done. I thought the practice was crisp overall. Obviously it was a little more physical than yesterday’s practice, with the pads on. I think it will provide us with an awful lot of good tape. We went through red zone, introduced two minute (work). We had some third down, dog and blitz that we had a chance to work on, so there is quite a few plays and I thought they handled it pretty well.”
Are you anxious to see these guys go up against another team?
“It gives you a first measuring stick, not just with the younger players, but with the veteran players. It is only three days away, so we are still working Saints on Saints if you will. At some point we will transition more towards the emphasis being Baltimore.”
When you brought Max Unger in, were there any minor concerns about his morale leaving Seattle?
“No, I think that would be fairly common in a trade. I think the key was his health, making sure that he reports (any injuries) and all the information we have done in regards to his physical and any injury history. But from the other side of it, players are resilient. They are going to play for X amount of time and I think that the transition often times is pretty smooth.”
He seems pretty happy here now.
“He is smart. He has picked things up quick. I thought his spring was good and he has been able to carry it out on the field with our practices. He is a quick study and I think at that position that helps.”
Can you talk about how players need to be self-motivated in this game?
“Well, one of the traits we look for in acquiring players, whether they are veterans or younger players, is guys that are self-starters. So I think that to his (Drew Brees’) comments, when it is your livelihood, I think guys, you hope, understand the significance of it, not only preparation on the field but taking care of your body on those days that are down or even after practice. It is part of the process. That is the type of player we are looking to acquire. I think the younger guys a lot of times will follow the lead with veterans on the team.”
When a player like Dannell Ellerbe misses time, how do you determine how fast they are thrown back in?
“There is a plan with it. We meet at night and look at the reps. He gets reps back in, you want to monitor how much the first day, the first week leading up to where he is not on the injury report. A player like him would come back on a limited basis and you gradually build him up rep-wise.”
When you look at the red zone in a game plan, I’ve seen a couple of times, if it is man coverage that Drew Brees likes the matchup with Mark Ingram against a linebacker. Would that be a case in point that you are in the red zone and the running backs are just as important as a receiver as far as routes to get in the end zone?
“Yeah, it is with the coverage we are seeing from the defense. There are some doubles taking place out there. They might be doubling your weak side receiver and they are doubling maybe the slot on the strong side. So the single matchups might be the running back weak and then the receiver to the field, the widest receiver. So there are times where some brackets are being played, and often times the value of a running back, and a running back that can beat a one-on-one coverage versus that type of coverage, goes up.”
Can you talk about Vinnie Sunseri and how he had another interception today?
“We will wait and see the film but it was a good play. He jumped underneath the route. I believe it was, not an audible, but kind of a package play and he was decisive.”
Can you talk about the versatility of David Hawthorne?
“When we signed him he played Mike. That first year was a bit of a struggle with the injuries he was working through. He played Will for us. We feel like he can play Mike or Will. He is smart. He can be the signal caller. He has handled that. Really today we worked him with the second group at Mike only because (Dannell) Ellerbe was coming back. There is good competition there with Ellerbe, with Hawthorne, Stephone (Anthony), we have a handful of guys that we will be splitting reps and kind of rotating how they are taking snaps. But he is a smart player. I’ve said this before, it is important, there is a handful of these guys that have to have some versatility. It happens on the offensive line, it has got to be able to happen at the linebacker position too.”
Nick Saban loved Vinnie Sunseri’s sense of awareness. Did you guys ever get to talk to him about that?
“Yeah, we spent, obviously it is easy for us to get to their pro day, we know that staff pretty well, and the key was what was the early vision, and we felt like he would be able to contribute to special teams, be a guy that knew what we were doing. I think that applies this year. The key is how many snaps can he play in a course of a game if he subs and he has a jersey. And then, can he function maybe with less practice snaps in an event of an injury. I would say that would be a strength of his.”
Do you see similarities of Willie Snead to Lance Moore and what do you think of his camp so far?
“I think the obvious comparison is he is someone that functions well in the slot. I think he is a good route runner with strong hands and he is smart. Those are traits that Lance (Moore) has had. Man, Lance played a ton of good football for us, so the jury is still out and he still has a ways to go, but those are some things that you do see early on from him.”
How do you think this training camp is going?
“Today was a day that we had a lot of guys back that were nicked up. I think the weather has been outstanding, the days where it is supposed to rain we have been fortunate and it hasn’t. Back to the earlier question, you get a first chance to play another team here Thursday and see where you are at as a team, but so far I think the work we are getting is obviously important for us. I think it is important to fight through some of these tough practices. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
What is the balance of the physicality you want on the training camp field and having guys ready to go for a preseason game?
“I think it is back and forth. I think, typically, we try to ramp up and like yesterday (and then) we’ve come back where we are in half pads. There is always that mental preparation that is important. Today we knew we were going to practice a little harder, a little bit more emphasis with blocking and tackling. We will see where we are at with the schedule for tomorrow and then as this preseason game gets closer. The one thing though is when it comes to a game with 90 players, a player is not going to get 45, 50 snaps. Now there might be some exceptions, but for the most part it is being divided up so you are able to practice maybe a little longer against each other before you turn the page. Wednesday we will have a full day on Baltimore. Tomorrow will still be situational emphasis for us with regards to two minute drill and a handful of other things that we feel like we need prior to getting into that game.”
With Anthony Spencer playing some Jack and Kasim Edebali playing some Sam, is that another position that you want the versatility?
“Yeah, that was one of the things in our meeting two nights ago. We just talked about moving some guys to take a peek at them and we had time to do that.”
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