Armstead, Vaccaro out Wednesday for Saints leading up to Bills trip

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Did Not Practice
T Terron Armstead (chest)
S Kenny Vaccaro (groin)

Limited Practice
G Larry Warford (abdomen)
WR Michael Thomas (ankle)
DE Alex Okafor (ankle)


Did Not Practice
T Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle)
WR Zay Jones (ankle)

Limited Practice
CB E.J. Gaines (hamstring)
TE Charles Clay (knee)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

During your initial evaluations did you get a feel like rookies Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alex Anzalone and Marcus Williams would be game one starters?

“I think it varies. There’s always that optimism the draft weekend and through the process and then in the spring and yet you recognize some of them come in like Ramczyk who wasn’t fully available because of the injury until training camp, but at some point during training camp you have to see it and see it consistently enough. To credit those guys, you mentioned we were able to, but that can vary sometimes. But I think probably a couple weeks into training camp you might know. You then go to the preseason games (and) it’s a little bit harder during the spring now with the practice schedules and the no-contact (policy).”

What has Justin Hardee added on that unit?

“He brings some juice and some energy. We saw him with Houston during the preseason, practicing with them. Fortunately, we were able to put him on our roster. He’s played both receiver and corner in high school and then went and played receiver at Illinois and we actually have him working with the DBs, but he’s one of those guys that comes to work and gives you great effort. A play like that the other day was significant because it wasn’t a designed block, it was actually more of a return (block) and it’s one guy really working his technique and it’s a huge play in a game like that.”

What do you think about the job Dan Roushar has done thus far?

“Dan is doing well. He’s a guy that I’m real familiar with. I’ve known (him) for a long time, coached with him in college and I think especially with some of the changes and the flexibility of how we’ve had to adapt (the line has done a good job). The other day (Andrus) Peat went back outside (to left tackle) and (Josh) LeRibeus came inside, I think that consistency even though the lineup hasn’t been consistent has been a big plus for our depth and our development. I think Dan has been a huge part of that.”

Was Drew Brees’ decline in passing attempts per game designed to go down this season or just because the success of the running game?

“Probably a little of both, part of it is when you’re playing in games and you have maybe a two-score lead maybe your rushing numbers go up or attempts. I always like when (people) say hey if you just attempt to rush the ball 30 times you win, but there is a method and sometimes that’s a result of what you’ve done earlier, but I think that balance of what we need each week to win can vary and what we need defensively from the offense and vice versa and  I think that is what’s most important.”

Was there an emphasis to run the ball more before the season started, since you are calling the highest amount of run plays in the first half in your tenure? Is that something you went into the year wanting to do; matchups or how the running backs are playing?

“I think compared to last season I would completely agree. I think that idea of just kind of coming out and opening it up, again it’s game by game and how we want to play a game, but we felt we would be improved rushing the football this year though and certainly we made a concerted effort and it was a point of emphasis and we have to continue to do that.”

Has Alvin Kamara’s role continued to expand as the season goes on as far as the kinds of routes he can run?

“No, from a route tree (standpoint) he has a pretty wide variety and we spent a lot of time on that during training camps and OTAs. I don’t know if his role’s expanded. We do a lot with both those running backs and they’re pretty adaptable.”

Has Alvin Kamara’s presence changed the way you do things at all?

“Certainly, we spend time on things that we think he does well (and) plays we feel he can handle and do well, so anytime you have a new piece of your equation I think it‘s important that you look closely at what their strengths are and, then try to build on them.”

What makes LeSean McCoy such a dangerous threat?

“He is very elusive and you don’t see a lot of hard contact hits on him and I think he is someone that can quickly get to top speed, his acceleration, his burst. He has very good instincts and I think with him there’s that dimension of flexibility where in the passing –game he can hurt you, in the running game he can hurt you. He’s had a fantastic career and you put on the film and you see the same player we saw way back in Philadelphia the last time we played him, he’s dynamic.”

Is Tyrod Taylor as mobile as the quarterbacks you’ve faced thus far?

“Compared to who we’ve seen to date he would be ahead of that group. He can beat you throwing it and if you’re not careful he’ll scramble for a 38-yard gain and I don’t know that we’ve seen that.”

What have you seen on tape from Tre’Davious White?

“He has good instincts and has had a good start to his season. The defense there is doing a very good job, he’ll play press, very quickly he’s acclimated himself to this league and fit in with Sean (McDermott’s) scheme. I think Sean and the defensive coaches there have done a real good job getting that defense prepped for the season and having the success they’ve had. The one thing that jumps out is the amount of takeaways that they have at this juncture of the season, I think it’s 17, but Tre’Davious is someone we liked a lot in the draft and I think they drafted a real good player. He is very comfortable though up in press coverage and I think he understands exactly what they are doing scheme wise.”

How closely does this Bills defense resemble what you’ve seen in Carolina when McDermott was there?

“Yes, the front and some coverage principles, but like anything else there are some things that are different, but are some similarities a lot of it is predicated on the personnel he has there now.”

How would you describe the contributions of the first and second-year pros on the Saints roster-relative to your prior experience in the league?

“I think that this appears to be a group of young guys that we drafted this year that have acclimated quickly, I’m encouraged by that. I think we made some changes that were necessary in our draft process and evaluation process, all of that. (The) scouting (department) was completely revamped. I think Jeff Ireland has done an outstanding job and how we look at players, all of that was overhauled and I think that the results are paying off fortunately for us.”

Can you give us any details on how that was transformed and exactly when was that overhauled?

“Starting with who’s in charge and starting with the organization and scouts, where are they going to be, who are the scouts, there were changes made there, prototypes, all those things that were necessary that are put in place now and like I said getting Jeff (Ireland) was huge for us.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

Media Availability

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You gave Coach (Sean) Payton a game ball for passing Vince Lombardi on the all-time wins list and getting his 100th career regular season victory. Your thoughts on what he meant to this franchise, your career and passing Vince Lombardi?

“Well actually I wasn’t aware of him passing Vince Lombardi. That was for his 100th regular season win. Enlighten me.”

He passed Vince Lombardi on the all-time wins list?

“That’s a pretty big accomplishment. I’ve been here for all 100 of those regular season wins and all the playoff wins too. The reason I’m here is because Sean Payton believed in me. He was willing to give me an opportunity back in 2006 and obviously Mickey Loomis as well but Sean being the architect of this offense and we’re building the foundation for this team and it would allow us to all be very successful. It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years. It’s been a ton of great memories along the way and hopefully there’s quite a few more.”

The breakdown of the run and pass so far, you guys are running the ball a lot more than you have, is that what you guys maybe want to do anyway? You guys have been ahead in games has allowed you to play like that?

“That is always the goal. The goal is always to be as balanced as possible. But at the end of the day you want, (what) we say run game efficiency and pass game efficiency (is important). You look at yards per carry. You look at situational, short yard situations, goal line situations. The complement of the pass and the run (and) how that sets up play action. Your ability to move the ball with great tempo and just create rhythm and sustain drives and get points. All of that stuff goes hand in hand. It’s part of playing complementary football. We talk about that. There’s complementary football offensively between running and pass. And there’s complementary football between our offense and our defense playing together. All that stuff I think has been a good formula thus far. But again I think there’s room for improvement.”

You guys have matched with plenty of times with a Sean McDermott-type defense, what do you guys anticipate going against this defense, obviously you know what things he likes to run?

“I have a ton of respect for Sean McDermott. I think he did a tremendous job in Carolina and he’s doing a tremendous job there in Buffalo. That’s a defense that is very aggressive and makes a ton of plays at home. You watch the way they play at home especially in that environment and crowd noise, they’re playing with a ton of confidence right now. They’re such a well-coached defense that’s created all types of plays, created all kinds of turnovers. But (they) went out and made some acquisitions in the offseason, Micah Hyde and some draft picks to add to an already stealthy defense. We have our work cut out for us.”

What similarities do you see between this Buffalo defense and what he was doing in Carolina?

“Yes, I’d say there are some similarities screen-wise but again you also do some things according to the pieces you have in place. We know what they’re capable of at any point with the pressure packages and some of the things that they can do. They’ve done a really good job of just getting pressure with their front four. I think a lot of times you kind of gauge how that’s going and then you can make adjustments accordingly. They’re a very smart group. They’re a very well-coached group. They’re in the right place and they’ve made a ton of plays. Again you turn on the tape and they’re making a ton of plays.”

At this point you guys are calling the highest percentage of runs in the first half of games since you’ve been here, is that something you felt coming at the beginning of the year or do you think part of it is Mark (Ingram) and Alvin (Kamara) playing as well as they have?

“I think it is a combination of a lot of things. I think you have to be committed to it. You have to be in games. Then you have to be efficient with it. (The) Offensive line has to be doing a great job and they have. All of those things would equate to maybe the number of runs that we’re calling. And again, there’s a balance there. When you’re able to get a lead in games and you’re able to run the ball effectively why wouldn’t you just keep calling the (run) plays.”

Do you think that’s a good formula for Buffalo as well?

“That sounds about right. You always kind of wait and see how far the game is going. The goal is always to run the ball effectively.”

When you think about the long winning streak, the mentality and the environment, and the expectations as you keep winning, can you elaborate on how that kind of plays out with the team’s psyche as you keep winning games?

“It’s two-fold. Number one, there’s confidence. We’ve won in a lot of different ways and also the formula has been validated a number of different times for us. We know what wins football games. We know what has won us football games and we understand if we continue to do that we’re going to win a lot of games. On the flipside I’d also say that we still have a ton of room for improvement. I really don’t think we’ve scratched the surface yet on either side of the ball as to how good we can be and also collectively as a team, just how good we can be. We’re still striving for improvement. And we’re still striving for that type of game where it just all comes together.”

Is this the best draft class by the Saints since ’06?

“We have some young guys that are playing really well. I remember that ’06 draft class. They’re playing well.”

Does it make you smirk still, I know people sometimes talk about you guys playing outdoors in cold weather. You won a playoff game in Philadelphia, you played college football at Purdue. Is too much made of this team playing outside in elements?

“I guess if you really want to look at it. How many wins have we had in the Sean Payton era on the road compared to other teams? Do we rank in the top five? Top three? We were number two at one point for a while behind New England so I do not know. I think the results speak for themselves. Each game has its challenges whether it’s the weather conditions, whether it is the team that you are playing, whether it is the environment, the situation. There are a lot of different things. Bottom line you prepare yourself the best you can to go up there and play your best and take things as they come.”

Drew you guys had a lot of the same offensive linemen for a long time around here are you surprise with how quickly Max Unger became a leader, a captain, kind of the heart and soul of that line?

“He’s a stud. What a great pickup for us. I cannot say enough good things about him. He sets the tone totally, not just in games but in practice. His approach not just verbally but also his actions. He is always on those young guys. He just sets such a good example for those guys at all times. This is what it is to be a pro. This is how we practice. This is how we prepare. Guys follow him. He’s a huge part of our success. Huge part of that group.

The offensive line, it’s been juggling a lot almost every game. It seems like every game they deal with adversity. How impressed are you that people can move on the fly in the middle of the game? They can move positions and just the versatility and the success you guys have had despite that?

“That’s a challenging thing to do but I credit our preparation throughout the offseason and preseason, training camp to almost preparing guys to do that. I can remember in camp all of a sudden being like hey you go here, you go here and you go here, and it’s like why are we doing that. And it’s like well you never know. And here we are. And we’ve been in situations where guys have had to play multiple positions and like you said flip-flop in the middle of the game because a guy goes down. I think it’s just a testament to their preparation, a testament to the coaches in getting them ready to do that as well. And I think just the confidence in what we’re calling and the scheme. I think the mindset is hey we’re not going to miss a beat, just keep rolling ahead.”

How much fun are you having, especially after the last three years? It’s like you’re having a blast.

“Certainly better to be 6-2 than where we’ve been in the past at this point in the season for the last three years. I like the approach each and every week. I love the competitive nature that has been cultivated here and the way the guys enjoy being around each other and the way they push one another. We know when it’s time to work. We know when it’s time to have a good time. I’m such a routine-oriented guy and get caught up in that all week long but I have after games tried to look around and enjoy the roses a little bit because it’s fun to win. It’s fun to see guys excited. It’s fun to get back on that plane from that road trip after a big win and be able to celebrate with your teammates. It’s a great feeling. I hope we keep it going.”

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