Quotes: Saints coach Sean Payton, linebacker Pete Werner post-practice, 8/3/2021

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Peter Werner
(Photo: Parker Waters)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2021 Training Camp Presented by SeatGeek
Post Practice Press Conference with Local Media
Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Did you give a few of the veterans a day off?
“We have, basically, a training camp schedule for off days. For older players it’s every fourth day and there will also be some younger players with soft tissue issues mixed in that group. That’s how we handle that. There was nobody injured in that group (of non-participants) today. They will be back at practice tomorrow.”

How did the team handle the first fully padded practice?
“I was just telling the team, the first challenge with a new team is understanding practice tempo and how to practice. I thought they did a good job with that today. I thought for the most part we stayed off the ground. We will see the film (after practice), but I thought we had good periods. Third down was the focus of install today.”

What do you want to see out of Pete Werner?
“With any of those young linebackers, obviously you want to see their instincts and their overall ability to communicate to the defense. When the preseason games start you look for how they tackle, how they stop the run, how they defend the pass. There are several things that go into evaluating that position. Today was the first day with pads, so you look at those areas mentioned and see how well they’re performing.”

How would you describe how well he (Pete Werner) is doing?
“I think so far he’s looked really smart. That’s a key strength of his. Ultimately, you get into tackling when the preseason starts, and you look to see the results. He’s picked things up quickly.”

Has Marshon Lattimore’s approach or intensity in training camp increased from previous years?
“I don’t know. He’s someone who understands how to practice, and he’s had some real good days here. I can’t answer that specifically. He’s one of our best defensive players and he’s done a good job when the ball has gone his way. He’s been very competitive and you’re going to have to earn a completion over there if you’re a receiver. The throw is going to have to be right and other times you are going to have to try to get by him. His length and instincts have served him well.”

Can you comment on the defensive line rotation?
“Today you saw the rotation because we started early installations for some of our sub-rush packages. For all those guys, (defensive linemen) the more they can do, the better. Can they move inside? How well do they rush when they’re moved inside? Are their guys we feel can be pressure players as opposed to playing inside? Can they disrupt the quarterback? It will take a while, but all those guys will be evaluated and get reps at those spots outside of the first and second down reps. It’s a big part of what we do in our game, trying to find ways to affect the opposing quarterback.”

Can you discuss the size of some of those guys (defensive linemen)?
“I like our length there. I think, in the last three or four years, maybe even longer than that, it’s been about finding guys with length on the defensive line. That’s what we’re looking for. We’ve gotten longer and we’ve gotten bigger there.”

As far as Ty Montgomery being full time at receiver, does he know the receiver position as well as the running back position in this offense?
“Yes. Forget last year when he did both, we are really trying to focus on him getting reps at the Y spot and all the slot receiver roles. That’s what he played in college and what he came into the NFL as before he transitioned to running back. I can’t speak for Green Bay, but I know that was probably an injury-related move there for him (to running back). We are trying to keep him at one position. When we made that decision, we were one spot short at running back, which was a big reason for us bringing in Devonta (Freeman).”

Is the competition at linebacker pretty steep? With Andrew Dowell’s play, it seems like you have a lot of options.
“It is. I think, in our time here for whatever reason, guys that have started here (at linebacker) were acquired from free agency rather than being drafted by us. We have certainly had draft picks there (at linebacker), but it’s been a trend going all the way back to the days of Mark Simoneau, Scott Shanle, Scott Fujita, Jonathan Vilma, etc. We’ve certainly got some guys now that we drafted competing in that spot. We’ll have a lot more information there at those spots once we get into preseason games.”

New Orleans Linebacker Pete Werner
2021 Training Camp Presented by SeatGeek
Post Practice Press Conference with Local Media
Tuesday, August 3, 2021

I assume at this point the adjustment is 90 percent mental for you?
“It is. You’re thrown in the fire right away so you have to learn a lot and you have to diagnose a lot of plays really quickly. So I’ve been put in spots and I have to pick it up and go. It’s a mental game, not nearly as physical although it was our first day of pads today, but it is a mental game. The people that know the defense are the ones that are going to be out there and play”

Do you think you are as well schooled in the position as you can be having played it at Ohio State?
“Yes, I think Ohio State was tremendous. It’s done so much for me. I’ve been put in situations that are very similar to this, although the tempo and scheme has picked up a bit. Ohio State has helped me a ton. I wouldn’t have been able to excel and learn at such a quick pace without them.”

Does the game come quickly to you in terms of diagnosis?
“I’ve been around the game for a while. I see a lot of things. Thankful to Ohio State, I played a lot of different defenses and there’s a carryover but it’s stepped up here. That helps me a little bit. I just have to take baby steps and take it one day at a time.”

How comfortable do you feel with this defense?
“I would say pretty comfortable. I’m not 100 percent yet. That’s just going to have to come naturally with a lot of reps. I just don’t have the reps yet. It’s going to be a process.”

Have you leaned on Demario Davis a little?
“I’ve leaned on him a ton. He’s a vet and has a lot of experience. Any tough questions that I can’t reach Coach (Michael Hodges) right away I’m going to him. I just like to pick his brain every once in a while. He’s a guy that’s been around forever. If I got something I’m going to him.”

What is the background of wearing number 21 despite being a linebacker?
“t goes back to college. I was number 20 in college. I wanted to be number 21 in college, they said no you’re 20. I fell in love with it then. We have the option to use any number we like, so 20 was available and they gave it to me.”

Despite certain limitations on hitting what do you get out of the padded practices and being evaluated with them on?
“I can’t throw anybody on the ground, can’t do anything like that, but it is getting pretty physical and so you can evaluate a little better now. I just have to learn the playbook, I have to do it well. I have to execute and right now like you said, it’s a mental game. You’re not going to see a lot of physical things from me. We’re going nine on seven and it’s basically inside drills.”

Has the transition gone pretty smooth for you so far?
“It has. I was here for a month earlier because we had been there for rookie camp (and offseason development). I got to know the facility, got to know more players day by day. It’s transitioned well.”

What goals have you set for yourself this year? Do you hope to be starting on day one of the season?
“That is a good goal to have in mind, but then again, I’m coming here as a rookie. I want to play on the field, but then again, what the coaches day, I have to go out and execute. I have to take every day at a time, win the moment now and then I’ll worry about those later. I want to execute and do my job today and then we’ll see what happens.”

Out of curiousity, how challenging is it matching up with Alvin Kamara mentally?
“You take one false step, you’re eyes are out of place, he’s going to expose you, so I’ve been in in tight coverage with him and he’s making me better, so any instances where I know he’s getting out of the pocket. I know it’s going to be a battle here and I’m going to be getting better. My yes have to be right. My footwork has to be right. I have to be in the right position or it’s not going to look good on my part. I’m getting better at it, but that matchup is tough, it’s really tough, but I’m getting better.”

Importance of playing on special teams?
“Special teams is the key here. Everybody’s playing special teams, even if you start. In my mind, I’m trying as hard as I can. I’m working to get on a unit. I’m working my butt off, so yes, special teams are everything. You just have to grind.

New Orleans Running Back Latavius Murray
2021 Training Camp Presented by SeatGeek
Post Practice Press Conference with Local Media
Tuesday, August 3, 2021

What is it like working with both Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston?
“I just think they are both team players. Both of them have had a pretty good rhythm so far, both of them. It’s a long training camp. Obviously we still have a lot of practices let. Still have (preseason) games to play, but I think both of them are playing pretty well and gelling pretty well with everybody on the offense”

It it a little bit more like football when pads come on?
“Yes, it helps out especially at the running back position with reads and things just being a little more realistic. It’s kind of hard to play realistic in shirts and shells. It’s definitely good to have the pads on and it definitely helps the running backs with reads and the offensive line I’m sure too.”

How do you think Tony Jones and Stevie Scott have looked?
“They’ve looked good. Tony looked real good, it being his second year, him being involved in the offense and receiving some action with me and Alvin out for that Carolina game, so he’s looking real good and confident. Stevie, he had a good day today with the pads coming on. He’s a bigger back for that and that helps his game. He’s a big guy. I’ll continue to be a help when they need it?

What is your impression of Devonta Freeman?
“He looks good. He’s obviously a guy that’s had a lot of success playing in Atlanta for all those year. He and I played in the Pro Bowl together a few years back, so it was good to catch up with him, now be alongside him and play with him. I’m just looking forward to playing with him, learning from him and trying to get better together.”

How different has it been with some of the protocols gone this year if you are vaccinated?
“I think it gives us something less to worry about so we don’t have to worry about waking up in the morning and getting tested (early) and all the protocols we had to go through last year. It just removes some things off our plates to where we can go out, wake up in the morning, do what we do and go practice. Hopefully it stays that way with everything going alright now?

Does last year sometimes feel surreal to think about?
“It was. I think it was (another life). It was the first time I ever experienced something like that. I think the way we all looked at it back years from now and just remembered how crazy and different it was, especially you talk about the protocols every day, playing in front of no fans. It was just something I don’t think anyone was thrilled with. But the fact we were able to have a season and for the most part it felt as real as any other season, I think was pretty impressive. We look forward to everything this year, fans being back again and everything stays that way and see what’s really cool about this and that’s playing in front of friends, family, fans and embracing that part of the game.”

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