Sean Payton pleased with competition at practice

Sean Payton pleased with competition at practice
Sean Payton walks through the Saints stretch lines before practice

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints concluded their second week of Organized Team Activities Thursday and speaking after practice Sean Payton praised his team’s spirited competition, despite not being in full pads.

The following is Payton’s full session with the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:

When linemen aren’t in pads, what do you look for to evaluate? It starts with assignment. It’s hard to evaluate a player who doesn't know what to do. It’s understanding who we have, where our steps are going. There's still landmarks they're trying to reach. There's technique they’re still working on. It impacts not just the offensive and defensive line -- certainly those groups are more noticeable -- but there are a lot of other positions the same way. The framework in where we know how to practice is one thing. Really getting the younger players up to speed with how to practice with just helmets is something we're working on and it's pretty typical this time every year.

Have you noticed a difference with [Teddy Bridgewater] having the whole offseason to get acquainted with the offense?“He’s a quick study. He knows what we’re doing and how to get through progressions and understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively.”

What does it say about your team when the players are this spirited this early in the OTAs?

“There’s that fine line of you want the competition and yet it's back to the initial question without pads there's that point where you've got to acquiesce a little bit relative to being safe and smart. We have enough guys that have been through this and understand it. But the competition is critical.”

How many different offenses do you bring into the mix every offseason? “There will be variations we try. There will be some offseason projects -- not just offensively. Defensively, we’ll look at how you might tweak some things in the gun and do a few things maybe you didn't a year ago. There are some core principles to what we're doing offensively that we believe in. We’re never shy of playing around with a new idea or new thought if we think that it really fits with (what) our personnel is. To put a number on it would be difficult because you're just looking at a play. You do your research during the offseason. You study other teams -- not just pro -- you study the college film and try to stay up to date.”

How do you self-scout yourself and just look for ways to improve?

“The self-scout doesn't go back that far because the personnel changes. So, what we did in New York with a completely different cast of players it's different than what we did in Dallas relative to our talent. Obviously even here, the difference between 2006 and now is noticeable. There’s some system terms that may be similar and there's some principles that would be similar and yet you spend a lot of time in-season really on the self-scout each week preparing for the next opponent.”

What are some of the areas you want to improve on in special teams as well?

“Look, we've talked a lot about getting the punt return game going. I thought we played real well in a lot of other areas. I thought our coverage units were outstanding. We feel real good about both our kicker and punter. So it's the details. Obviously there's a new group working, players as well as staff, with Darren (Rizzi), Phil (Galiano) and then Michael (Wilhoite), three new coaches working with these units. This is a good time just relative to terminology and picking up things that may be called a little bit differently.”

With Taysom (Hill) more familiar with the offense, is there (a chance to) maybe broaden him or maybe even give him a little more responsibility as far as the passing tree?“Yes. He gives us obviously positional flexibility. I am not talking about special teams but he really trains, works and meets with quarterbacks and that is the position we see him in. And yet he's a good enough athlete where he kind of comes in and (can) play a third receiver position. He is a good blocker. He is pretty sharp relative to just playing the game. He's a good football player. So we'll expand. Today, Alvin’s (Kamara) got a stomach bug and so he's not taking Alvin's plays relative to the halfback, but on a pony package he might take a few of those things. So, he has that versatility and aside from being involved in the offense as a quarterback on any given play, he really helped us last year on that third receiver or second tight end mode.”

The steps that Michael Thomas has made each year and then what he was able to do last season, what did you expect to see when he came out here on the field for OTA’s?“The one thing about Mike is that you kind of know what you're going to see. So weight is in good shape here, he’s moving around well. It was no surprise. He's here, he's working, he trains very hard in the offseason and he's extremely competitive.”

I'm sure you guys are sick of talking about it at the beginning of the season, losing the first game. You said there was no carryover from year to year, is there anything different you want to do on the lead up (to the first game)? “We're going to change the Gatorade up and the sweatsuits (laughter). Probably look at a different color Gatorade”

What's up with (Larry) Warford, we haven’t seen him in the last two weeks?

“We have a few guys that are just recovering from certain injuries and he’s in here rehabing and training. He’ll be out here sooner than later.”

The Saints’ next practice that will be open to the media will be Wednesday, June 5th.

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