Quotes: Sean Payton, Adrian Peterson, Cameron Jordan post-practice (Aug. 5)

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Opening Statement:
“Our two-minute drill installation began today. I thought we had some decent work at the end of practice on it. Obviously, that is something that we will need to continue to drill and work on.”

What was your evaluation of the two-minute drill?
“I thought it was alright. Guys were fighting through some of the heat. The point we made last night (in meetings) was if you pay close attention to our games at the end of each half and at the end of the game, if you get the red zone channel, all of the games end with you either defending or being in a two-minute situation. It’s a critical part of our game right now. It is something that we have to be better at on both sides of the ball. You could point to last season when there were a handful of games during which we were in that situation. Today was a good start to it, but again, there is a lot that we have to work on.”

Did you think that the heat affected players more today than before?
“Maybe a little bit more. We had a few more guys cramping. Overall, I think that is what you are looking for in training camp. You are pushing them. Overall, I thought that the periods went back-and-forth. There were a few that were sluggish.”

You are not going to scrimmage this year. Any thoughts?
“We’re getting more scrimmage situations in these periods. We went live on team runs today. We will get in more good work tomorrow night at Tulane. But, there is no official intrasquad scrimmage.”

Does practicing on Sunday night change the Monday schedule at all?
“Yes, it does. We’ll announce it. It will push Monday’s practice back to 11:50, if you will. We’re going to be inside Monday. Because we’re finishing late, we’ll meet in the morning. Monday would be more like an in-season schedule.”

You will still be off Tuesday?
“On Tuesday, we will be off.”

Can you talk about trying to create different situations? Is changing the time of practice part of that?
“Part of it is about recovery. You have to be able to adjust. If we are going to practice at Tulane at nighttime—which was a decision I made—then we have to look at our Monday schedule and be willing to adjust it as well. By the time they are getting back to the hotel, it will be closer to 11 o’clock. So, we will push Monday back, more like an in-season schedule.”

On the live run drill—I know you still need to watch film—what did you see with the naked eye?
“I thought our first team defense did a good job. We’re working on a lot of our stretch plays. We’ll watch the tape and be able to see why a play had success or didn’t. (Without the live period,) you can get a false sense of where a ball might be stopped. When you tackle, which is part of football, you get an idea of exactly where the ball was stopped. That is part of it.”

Can you say what it means to the organization for Morten Andersen to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
“I think it is fantastic for the Saints. Morten Andersen went to Indianapolis’ Ben Davis High School. He came over from Europe to play soccer (as an exchange student). He ended up kicking for Ben Davis. I saw him play at Michigan State when I was a high school senior. It was 1982. I believe he and Ali Haji-Sheikh were playing. It was at Michigan State, MSU vs. Michigan. Then from afar, I followed his career. He is the all-time leading scorer in the history of our league. (His induction) is much deserved, and we are happy for him. Obviously, at any of the stops he made—including here and also Atlanta—he has had an impact on those teams. We are proud of him.”

You are not going to his induction, are you?
“No, not with our schedule here.”

What have you seen from Michael Hoomanawanui as he comes back from injury?
“He’s a guy we have a pretty good feel for. He’s strong. He has heavy hands. I paused when I heard you pronounce his last name because we call him Hoo-Man. He’s a veteran player. The one thing that I like about the player’s that you know exactly what you’re getting—his strengths, his weaknesses. He’s a pretty good blocker for a tight end. It is good to see him healthy.”

What have you seen from Alex Jenkins?
“He has flashed a few times. Obviously, he is behind a bit. Yet, I like his length. I think his attitude and his work ethic have been good.”

Knowing that you have him for a year, how might that alter the approach of involving him in practice?
“He is a bonus practice squad player, so he is a bonus roster spot. We are at 91 players, really. That would be the only thing that affects how we approach things. He is in the rotation. He is playing. Obviously, he has a lot of work to do. He is with the developmental group. It gives you an extra body, which is important when you get into the season.”

How is Cameron Jordan’s role different this year than in years past, more relating to his locker room influence on guys?
“That is a good question. I think one of the things we look for is who those leaders are going to be, defensively. That is something that we talk about a lot more than you might think. Which of these guys is going to step up and lead this defense? He is certainly one of the candidates. I thought we saw some good finishing plays from him during that drill. He is a consistent performer. There are areas that he is working on improving, and I think it will be important for that defense to improve so that we get better leadership. Hopefully, that will evolve here in the preseason.”

Is Willie Snead IV dealing with anything serious?
“Nothing specific.”

How challenging has it been to evaluate where Adrian Peterson is with the absence of tackles to the ground?
“I feel pretty comfortable with where I think he is. I have seen the drills where we have cranked it up with him in. Periodically, we will hold him back. Right now, that is further down on the list of my concerns because I feel like I have seen a few series with him. We tell some of these veteran players, ‘We do not have to see it every day, but we have to see it.’ I have seen it. He’s been in some drills. They may not involve tackling to the ground, but our practice inside the other day had some pretty impressive film for him.”

Cameron Jordan has mentioned that it is hard for him when he has to take a couple of plays off. Do you think that that is a form of leadership in and of itself?
“Absolutely. One of his traits that’s exceptional is that he has some staying power. He is in good shape. He’s always been a player that can play more snaps than his peers. It is hard to play on the defensive front on every snap. He is one of those guys that will play a high snap total each week.”

You mentioned that the punt returns would be difficult in Cleveland with the fans wearing brown. Do you get excited about having a matchup like that, having so many factors to deal with?
“Absolutely. When you go there, it could be hot and humid. We could have rain. We are going to play unless there’s lightning. Taking a young team somewhere different (helps). I always like playing some outdoor road games when they come up. You get to learn a bit about your team.”

New Orleans Saints Running Back Adrian Peterson
2017 Training Camp Presented by Verizon
Saturday, August 5, 2017

You picked the right day to not practice today right?
“That was the first thing I thought when I came out here. If there is a day, this might be the day. It was pretty humid today, but guys put some good work in and rode through it.”

Sean Payton says with veteran players you don’t have to see it every day, but you have to see it. Do you need to see it every day or how do you gauge where you are through a week?
“Even on these off days, you still take advantage of it mentally, staying in tune and preparing as well. I was up pretty late last night going over the two-minute offense, knowing that I wasn’t going to be a part of it. Today, I was able to come out and get some good recovery for my body, which is huge for me.”

You didn’t seem to have too many questions about where you would be in pads, but how do you feel? Are you where you want to be?
“I’m healthy without a doubt. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but I’m working towards that and I’m working extremely hard. In my mind, it’s just each day working on the little things that will make you better. That’s been my main focus throughout this grind and this training camp.”

Where exactly do you want to be?
“It is a combination of stuff. Having my legs underneath me and learning so much for the new offense and the new system. It is really a combination of those two things. Taking care of my body as well, but basically those two things.”

Do you need a preseason game to know exactly where you are or you already know where you are?
“Not when it comes to the physical part of it. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. It is more the mental aspect of it because Drew Brees is a general back there and he talks so fast when he calls plays. That’s more so what I mean just locking in and that’s normal when you come into a new system. I’m just taking advantage of looking at the playbook and making sure I’ll be prepared when my number is called.”

Do you find yourself more eager to play in a preseason game that usual?

“In a sense, I do. Last year, I felt like I’d get out there a little bit. I had talked to coach (Mike) Zimmer about it, but it didn’t end up happening. Maybe I’m itching a little bit more this offseason plus I don’t know how they run things. If starters go out there and play no matter what I’m buckling up and going, but when that time comes we’ll talk more.”

Do you feel like there’s an adjustment between you and Drew Brees with the quarterback-running back hand off?
“Not really, we’ve practiced a few times together for a couple Pro Bowls and I’m always one tempo. It’s been good. I haven’t had any balls on the ground. Of course, with different runs, there’s different types handoffs and different marks. Just making sure you’re in sync with that.”

There was a story about you switching up your diet to a more vegan diet. How is that going and why did you want to do it?
“It’s been rough, but I think I’m just conscious of it. I take this protein called hydrogenics, which is basically like a meal replacement. I probably eat one meal and I’ll try to stick around salad. Sometimes I give in, like a couple days ago I was passing Church’s Chicken and that three-piece looked so good so I stopped and had it. I would say I’m 80/20 vegan. I’m really just being more conscious of what I put in my body.”

Does that change the size that you’re going to play at?
“No. I have been watching my weight because I have been on this diet for about four weeks now. My weight has been consistent between 217 and 220 (pounds). I have not lost any muscle. I actually came in and put in a couple more pounds of muscle. I have been pleased with it so far”

Is there anyone that persuaded you that it was a good idea to explore vegan specific meals?
“No, just me. I kind of like to get on Youtube sometimes or check social media so you’ll see certain things and it kind of gets you thinking about health. I just browse and search for different venues and see what I can learn about eating healthier. It didn’t last too long, but last year, I was drinking green juices going into camp. It was a little different, but I was still eating 80 percent of the foods then. I’ve just been trying to switch it up.”

Can you sense the fascination within the team but, also the public fascination with seeing what you can do in this offense? Just the whole fascination, how do you feel about that?
“I’m excited about it. It’s another opportunity, but I definitely feel it. I feel the energy. The fans here are different. This fanbase here is really serious. Like I said before, I got a taste of it in 2009, but since I’ve been here there’s been nothing but love. I’ve been feeling the energy. You look on social media and you see how people feel about me getting out there and being the two-headed monster with Mark Ingram and being behind Drew Brees. I’ve definitely been feeling the energy.”

New Orleans Saints Defensive End Cameron Jordan
2017 Training Camp Presented by Verizon
Saturday, August 5, 2017

What is your review of the defense in the two-minute drill? “We didn’t get an interception. We have got to be able to do that. They were able to drive on us. But at the end of the day, we got off the field and that is all that counts.”

Is there a difference in mentality between this year’s defensive backs group and last year’s group?
“This year, compared to the last two or three years, they are hungry this year. You can feel it on the line of scrimmage. You can feel everything they do from the open line of communication they have and the way they have been actively talking off the field about being on the field. There mindset has definitely cultivated to something that we can build upon and I’m excited to build as a defense.”

Is there a guy or two that is leading the defense?
“Of course. When you talk about Dennis Allen, he takes so much pride in his DB core. When you talk about Kenny Vaccaro in his leadership role. Even if you talk about these young kids coming in, Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell. They want to be so great so fast. They want to be great now. You love that mindset. We have competition at corner, Sterling Moore coming in and being his second year in this defense and being more comfortable. We have P.J. Williams coming back. Damian Swann coming back. There is so much talent at the corner that we have to grasp their potential.”

How much do you want the Defensive line to be improved?
“The D-line’ll be the spear. We’ll be the first to penetrate. As everyone knows, we have a great D-line and can cover different things. I don’t think we have to cover for much now, but I do think we have to be the strength. Year in and year out we have to be the strength. This year is the most important year in my mind just because it’s the next year. We have the talent to do a lot of things in the league this year. I think we have a lot of potential to do a lot of things greater this year. Things we can’t even grasp. At the end of the day, the D-line has to be that wedge buster and we have to reset the line of scrimmage and create havoc in the backfield. Even more than we did last year. Last year was a good starting point.”

How close do you watch the secondary and how they perform during practice?
“During practice, I don’t have time to look back. With that being said, after we get to meetings and after we break down film, we have been breaking down film as a unit and we are able to see what everyone is doing. It gives you much more confidence. I know I actually have a full three seconds to get to the quarterback. I can actually use some pass rush moves to get to the quarterback even faster. If I can shave off a half of a second, we are going to be better as a unit.”

Are you the leader of the D-line now?
“At some point in time, you have to take control of what your defense is. As a player, you always want to exceed expectations. I expect that from each and every one of my D-line (members).”

How much do you view sacks as an individual stat and a team stat?
“It’s definitely a team stat. When you talk about sacks, it’s going to take corners to cover, it’s going to take your linebackers to relay, and it’s going to take the inside to pinpoint the quarterback so you can have your outside swims. At the end of the day, sacks are a defensive unit situation and it can be a singular. A singular D-lineman like the minister of defense (Reggie White) takes over games. That’s something we look for.”

What can you do to make the Top 100 players in the NFL?
“I don’t know about that. I do know that we are focused on this season. I am focused on today and I can’t focus about tomorrow until today is over. Preseason it was all fun to say I was not top 100, you make those speculations when you’re just having fun. At the end of the day, we put pads on and we are real men.”

What more do you need to do?
“I need to make more plays in the backfield. I did okay last year. I think I can always improve. You can’t say that maybe last year was my best year, because this year has not happened yet.”

Does the way you play, set a tone for the defense?
“The way I play has to set a tone for the defense. If I come out soft and I am supposed to be the voice of our defense, how can anyone else come out and be better. If you come out with that mentality, of setting the tone and raise the tone a little bit higher, everyone else is going to reach that level. At an individual rate, I want to be the best that I can be so I can rally everyone else to be the best they can be. How can I be sorry and expect someone else to be great?”

How is it looking back at the backfield with Drew Brees and Mark Ingram?
“It is cool. We have Drew Brees who constantly throws for 5,000 yards a year. He has always had the best offense for the past five years. You talk about Adrian (Peterson) coming from Minnesota and coming to us and we all know I have been watching him since I have been in high school. When you talk about just the level of talent that he brings to the field, his vision is only going to cultivate the likes of Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and open up their minds to see something that they didn’t see before. That as a whole is going to make them a three-headed monster.”

What have you seen from the D-line this year?
“(David) Onyemata’s using his hands more and more. If he can rapidly grow the way he’s been, he’s going to be a force to reckon with. If you talk about Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata both entering their second years, just the growth in the interior. You talk about Tyeler Davison entering his third year at nose, the way he plays when he’s healthy’s going to help us out a lot. When we talk about opposing whatever, whether I’m inside or outside. When you talk about Alex Okafor, Obum Gwacham and Hau’oli Kikaha. You even have the young guys in Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad. All these guys have such potential and we are trying to get them to grasp the full level.”

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