Q&A: Sean Payton and Drew Brees after final Saints minicamp practice

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2019 Minicamp Presented By Verizon
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, June 13, 2019

I saw Alvin Kamara had the red jersey on to start practice trying out some snaps at quarterback?
“Well I think it was more about he and Teddy (Bridgewater) switching jerseys. As soon as they did it, I started looking at it a little differently There’s a couple of quarterback runs we could use, but anyway, he could wear a number of jerseys.

When you say he could wear a number of jerseys, (what do you mean?)
“He can do a number of things.”

Going into his third year, to what extent does that cause you — I don’t know if you could describe in any way how you spend time trying to imagine new things that (Alvin Kamara) could do.
“It starts with some of the stuff he does extremely well now that still sells, meaning that it is still really, really good. He’s got the ability to return punts, return kicks. His flexibility in the passing game and in the running game allows you, I’d say moreso your gameweek preparation relative to the team you are playing. When we drafted him, it starts with he has real, real, exceptionally high football IQ, so he can get bored with it. That is why we give him one of those little fidget things you twist when you can’t pay attention. So he gets one of those fidget spinners.”

Can you use him in a Wildcat situation or would you prefer not to expose him?
“Well, look, you can and yet I’d rather he (be) on the front end with Taysom (Hill) on the other end. But you can”

Any (examples)?
“He threw a fourth and one play action pass at Tennessee from a Wildcat set. Kind of like a tight end pop pass. It was pretty good. He’s athletic.”

Do any other guys have a fidget spinner?
“Alvin got the first. It was last Fall.”

Did it have a design on it?
“Nope. Just simple. Hey, when you’re getting bored, like you do sometimes, again, he’s real smart. So he had his little fidget spinner.”

One thing (people) remember from his rookie year was that first run at the Los Angeles Chargers during the preseason. How much was that an eye opening moment for you and the staff? “There was a stretch of two games there at Cleveland and the Chargers, we saw the skill set relative to being a receiver and if you remember during that camp, Adrian (Peterson) and he (Mark Ingram), were all receiving a lot of reps and were just kind of into the pads. It was a series of moments, but that was one of them where it looked pretty good off tackle and then there were a few more (moments) that season that were really impressive.”

At what point did everyone just had to say we have to move past the way last season ended and into 2019?
“That probably would vary per player, but I don’t think it’s something we’re discussing. Right now our focus is (moving) forward and it has not been something that (has) been a topic of motivation. It’s still about putting yourself in a position to get back. Every team at this time of the year is talking about the postseason and the opportunity to put a good season together and play in the postseason. It starts with trying to win your division first. I would say for most, I’m sure that that’s in the rearview mirror.”

What did you think of what you saw of some of the newer guys whether it be Jared (Cook) or Erik (McCoy)?
“It was really good. Look, there is a lot they get in a short period of time while they are also catching up in the weight room, also catching up with their conditioning. So I think when camp comes, then we begin that same installation that they’ve had now. There’s a lot of repetition in the early stages, which is part of learning.”

You get a guy like Taylor Stallworth who makes the team as an undrafted rookie going into year two, have you seen any different confidence (in him)?
“You do. (He’s) a player who’s been here now, a player who has developed more in the weight room and a player who has gotten a taste of it. You get a year under your belt as a free agent and you recognize the hard work that goes into that. He’ll be someone we look forward to seeing during camp.

It’s hard to figure out what you’re getting out of the offensive line when nobody is in pads but what have you seen from Erik (McCoy) and has he shown what you guys wanted to see when you drafted him?
“He’s exceptionally smart. He picks things up well. He’s a strong player. So, some of that relative to your strength in what we’re doing in these drills maybe you don’t get to see as much but just the under center snaps that may have occurred more in this offseason than he was used to, in college, that type of thing. I’m anxious to see him as we get started and he’s someone that’s picked things up very well.”

What was the World War II museum visit like for you guys?
“It was fantastic on the 75th anniversary of D-Day and we just happened to be the city that hosts that museum. I think that worked out well where we could get on buses before it opened, (come) in and spend some time and see it all. It’s a fabulous museum. We had a chance to meet two veterans that fought during that time. I think it was good for the team. We had a little short video before we left talking about that day and the sacrifice that day that took place to afford us some of the things that we have now. So, I thought it was really good.”

What are some of the biggest takeaways from this offseason training and are you excited from what you saw?
There’s no specific takeaway. We’re teaching and we’re giving them the information, we’re getting them in the weight room, which is most important — getting their weights right, building up their strength and stamina. It’s a process. I like the health of where we’re at right now overall. The key is to put ourselves in the best position at training camp so we can make the right decisions relative to the roster.”

How long before you have an idea of what kind of team you have?
“Honestly, I don’t know that you know until you start the first quarter pole of season. Certainly you feel the experience and the competitive nature of guys. We’re trained as coaches to prepare in a way and prepare the players in a way where each week (where), there’s 31 others trained. And so it’s hard to measure this invisible race that’s taken place this early where everyone else is at. You just got to assume they’re going full speed and making gains and improving their team and see the focus becomes a lot more just inward relative to yourself, you know? And so that’s where we have tried to keep it.”

Looking in the back end of the running back group: (Dwayne) Washington, (Devine) Ozigbo, Buck Allen, is it all a matter of how they contribute on special teams in the competition?
“That’s an important part of it and yet you still want to see someone that can function as a runner. When you’re a player, maybe at any position, two deep or three deep, the more you can do when it comes to your gameday (roster), then the better position you put yourself in.”

Marcus Davenport, what does he look like?
“He’s doing well. Right now we’re not in pads, but he’s doing a good job.”

He only coached here one year, but you and Ed Orgeron, maintained a good friendship. What makes him special?
“He’s passionate about football. (I) think he’s doing a great job. When you look at someone who’s from this state and loves the game — I know guys that work with him and for him that how highly they speak of him and I know he’s a fantastic recruiter so we follow those guys closely and it’s good to see Ed in that position. He’s going to do well.”

When you see clips of him trying to get his players fired up, do you have any specific thoughts?
“I haven’t seen those clips. I’ve seen clips where (his) neck veins are coming out, but I haven’t seen those clips.”

Saints camp

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
2019 Minicamp Presented By Verizon
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, June 13, 2019

You had a lot of backup quarterbacks today with Alvin Kamara wearing a red jersey and helping out. Today, you had one that was a little bit off. (Laughter)
“Alvin? (Laughter) The old jersey swap kind of threw us off early on. He’s definitely a guy that could probably get out there and do it. That’s the scary thing. He’s such a phenomenal athlete and he always talks about wanting to throw the ball. So I don’t know, we might go back to those days with LaDainian Tomlinson where he was throwing three and four touchdown passes a year. Not such a bad thing.”

Are you ready to catch one?
Absolutely. Just call my number. (Laughter) I was ready the whole year. Most of the time they just had me stand out there and look handsome. (I) Told them I’m ready. I am ready to catch one.”

Did you ever have one (touchdown) in San Diego?
“Yeah, I had one. I caught a touchdown from LT (Ladainian Tomlinson). 2003 in Oakland on the dirt, it was early in the year, on the baseball dirt. So it was basically left front pylon, like sliding into home. Got the touchdown.”

How about your actual backup (Teddy Bridgewater), has he really made an impression on you in the last six months, especially with this playbook for the first time in a full offseason?
“Yeah, so obviously we know how that all transpired last year. He came in right before the season. So a big learning curve, you’re jumping right into a regular season with the new offense and a lot of new things. I think our coaches, him, they have all looked forward to this offseason where he could get a lot of reps and a lot of time under his belt and there is no doubt he’s an extremely talented guy. But he works at it. I think this offense suits him very well, a lot of things that we do and a lot of the capabilities that we have and obviously with the creativity that we’re able to incorporate to everything we do. I think guys have a comfort level with him. I think he’s got a great comfort level with the offense and he’s shown that throughout camp”

What has the adjustment been like with Erik McCoy at center?
“Just like any new center and just the pace at which we operate (is tough). Each week we started adding stuff and I think in the beginning you try to just be very basic and very elementary and then as soon as you get going you try to make it a bit more complicated just to (challenge him) and we threw him in the fire. So I think that’s the only way you really get better and you’ve got to stretch yourself a little bit and put yourself in those uncomfortable situations. I think all that’s going to do is serve you well down the road as we continue to get more reps together. And then as an offense we kind of put in the whole playbook. But, there’s just so much communication that happens between quarterback and center. And so, add up the reps that we’ve had during OTA’s and Minicamp, it’s really not that many compared to a guy like Max Unger or a guy like Jonathan Goodwin or other centers that we’ve had here. Training camp we’re going to get 50 times as many reps as we got here in the last couple of days. So,that’ll be really good for both of us.”

How would you compare (Mark) Ingram and (Latavius) Murray and you watch film and your expectations, obviously with Murray going forward?
“Yeah, obviously I was very familiar with Mark, we played together for eight years. Latavius has impressed me in a lot of ways. He’s such a big physical guy. Obviously we are not in pads out here, you know, so you can’t comment on a ton of just the pure running style or physicality or anything yet. Certainly from watching on film, from Oakland to Minnesota, he definitely plays with that edge. I think he’s picked up the offense well thus far. And it’s nice when you can have two backs, obviously for the last two years with Mark and Alvin (Kamara), it gives you a lot of flexibility and it gives you a lot of creativity. So hopefully that’ll be the same with him.

Going back to Alvin (Kamara), is there a moment where you realized he’s going to be special?
“Yeah, obviously we had signed Adrian. So we had Adrian (Peterson) and Mark and then you bring in Alvin and it was just one of those where (things where) he just needed repetition. Right. And so early on, a lot of those reps were going to Mark, they were going to Adrian Peterson. And so it was not until during training camp, you would see flashes. But I don’t think it was until maybe that Miami game in London where all of a sudden Alvin goes off and you realize, man, this could be a feature guy, not just a third down scatback. Get him out of the backfield, get him in space. I mean, he can do everything. And I think hence was the decision then to trade Adrian and then Alvin became a staple.”

How would you describe his (Alvin Kamara’s) mental approach to the game or his curiosity about what you know and things like that?
“You talking about the way that he comes to me for that information? Is that what you’re asking?”

Well, we were under the impression that he somehow wants to emulate you in terms of understanding how to read defenses and what is the scheme of the play you are running.
“That’s why he put the Red Jersey on today. (Laughter) Just thought it was like some of the Superman Cape, you know. It’s just like magically it would happen. (Laughter) He’s a highly intelligent guy. He’s pretty inquisitive. You know what, I think, he’s such a fun loving guy too, you know? I mean, when he’s out here it’s that great mix of, he knows when to work, but he’s going to have fun doing it. He does have a thirst for knowledge. Whenever there is something that comes up and I grab him and we start talking about something, it’s one of like, okay, I hear it and I’m absorbing it. I am visualizing it and then I can go out and execute it. There’s just a level of awareness with him that I think that’s unique. He picks up on things very quickly. I think that’s unique. So then combine that with exceptional athletic skills and you get the player that he is.”

How difficult is the current situation for you? Can you say anything about how this has been taxing for you?
“Yeah, it’s been very stressful and it’s ongoing, but we’ll get through it.”

But to not be here, you know, and be away?
“Yeah, very tough, very tough. Obviously I’m quarterback of his football team and I want to be with the team, but unfortunately there were things that were a bit out of our control that we had to take care of. So take care of that and take life as it comes.”

Were you with the team last week when they went to the museum (National World War II Museum)?

At what point did you allow yourself to move past the way last season ended and move forward into the 2019 season?
“Yes, it took a while. But, once I get into my training, March, April and then obviously May, I become very focused on the things I need to work on to get better and circle up with all my mentors, the guys that have meant so much to me over the course of my career and tell me how it is. We come up with a plan and a process for how I’m going to get better and approach the offseason. So I did that this offseason, just like I always do. We had some new wrinkles to work on, which was good and feel really good about where that’s brought me this far.”

In your experience with a player like Marshon (Lattimore), who had had a lot of success in his first two years in the NFL, how does somebody take that and build on it. Kind of continue to grow?
“He’s another guy who, kind of interesting. Maybe like Alvin in some ways, where, there is this obviously athletic ability, this skillset that fits very well with being a great player. But, there’s some smarts, there’s some intellect. There’s some awareness that exists that is a bit unusual for such a young player. And so wherever that comes from, however that was developed, it’s obviously a great trait and something that has allowed him over the last two years to just continue to get better. And I think that is what I appreciate, is I think it is very easy for a guy who experiences early success to feel like it is just natural and it is just going to happen. Man, that is not the way it works in this league and you’ve got to work at it each and every year. And it’s almost like the better you become, the more they’re gunning for you, right. And so, I think Marshon realizes that and (there is) no better opportunity than everyday in practice for him and Mike Thomas to go at it. You talk about two of the best in the game. So I think, it’s that adage, iron sharp sharpens iron. Those guys make each other better and in turn make the team better.”

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