Quotes: Sean Payton, Dennis Allen, Drew Brees meet with media after Saints-Texans joint practice

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Opening Statement:

“We waived WR Xavier Rush and FB John Robertson-Woodgett. We signed outside linebacker Bryan Braman and Fullback Zach Line.”

How has Sheldon Rankins looked? Is he more explosive than last year?

“He is healthy. A year ago when you have an injury like he had, you miss a lot of developmental time and so he is healthy and he is moving around. I think he is certainly comfortable at the three technique. He is taking some reps at the nose. But we kind of see him more as a three (technique). He is disruptive and it is good to see him out there and obviously he is that much further along because of his health.”

How did you feel with this being the last full practice of camp?

“We’re not in a break mode. We will be in full pads (again). I haven’t even thought about it. Tomorrow we are in the Dome with helmets and shells. Of course we will play Saturday and essentially they leave the hotel and then next week it is a short week for Baltimore. The main thing was coming out here and getting some good work. I thought the weather was great. We had some cloud coverage. I thought both teams handled the heat. We will put the tape on and there will a lot of stuff we can coach off of. A different defense completely and some offense that we are going to have to work on. You see a few different things with (DeShaun) Watson in the game then maybe with the other quarterbacks, but I thought it was good work.”

When you are having joint practices, are there things that you are emphasizing more than others?

“You are wanting great opportunities in these drills to setup and evaluate guys really working against other guys. I think that is where you see growth with players. I think that’s why it’s a benefit to both teams. I know Bill (O’Brien) feels the same way. I don’t know how many practices (we’ve done in total) jointly with the Texans, but with Bill we’ve had a couple now and it makes a lot of sense logistically. We have always played them in the preseason. Overall, I think the first practice went well. We have a lot of tape to watch.”

Are you going to work with them (Texans) tomorrow?

“Yes. It will be situations. We will be in the dome. It will be the first time for a lot of our guys that get under the lights and get on the new field (replaced turf).  We will do some end of game situations that are really more teaching mechanics. Might be an onside kick at the end of the game. It might be our kick vs. their hands and flip it around. All of those type of situations that we can benefit from together.”

Do you think the two-minute defense is doing well?

“It is something that we have (been) emphasizing. A handful of last year’s losses we were either unable to get the points we needed, or defend the final drive. It is such a significant part of our game. We must keep working on that.”

Were you happy with what you saw on the two-minute defense?

“Yes absolutely. I think it is something that is that important. It is good when you get to do it against on a different offense because the plays are different, the snap counts are different and protections. It allows you to have to react to things that you are not normally used to seeing. Drew (Brees) will be in a two-minute drive and he is hiding his signals because our guys have seen a lot of that and it is a little different when you get a different team.”

Do you have any sense of their quarterback position?

“Yes. They have experience (in Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden) and a young player (in Deshaun Watson) and I’m sure they are going to develop him the way they see fit for their team. Around the league, there are new guys competing to get up to speed and veterans that are fighting the battle. Opportunities are the same way for them, positive.”

Did you get a sense of Deshaun Watson’s performance today?

“It is hard until you look at the tape, but he is poised. We saw him last week make a few plays and I’m sure that like any young players, there is a learning curve. But if the play breaks down, he is hard to get a hand on. He broke a few plays on us and that is challenging.”

We saw (Adrian) Peterson score on that wheel route. How encouraging has his receiving been throughout camp?

“It has been good and it has been steady. I don’t think that would be the first thing that we think of when we are looking at his skillset and yet you have to have some flexibility and you have to be not one-dimensional when you are in the game and he has shown that. Clearly, it is something Mark (Ingram) has been better at as well.”

What does it do for your team to go up against one of the best defenses?

“It is just a number of periods. We had a team run period, two-minute, a couple of rolls. We had a ton of third down work, a base work, and red zone work. We got a lot of film to cover and you see a different front, they are a little bit more of an odd defense. So it is good, we are going to play Week two and we are going to play New England and they are going to be a similar front and we’re going to have to handle that. It is hard to replicate that during training camp with your own defense if that is not your scheme. So the exposure to that is good.”

How tough is it to have both first round picks leave practice?

“You can’t control it and yet I’m sure they will bounce back and hopefully they will be ready to play Saturday.”

Have you seen enough of from those two guys to be able to have a read on them?

“Yeah, but there’s still two weeks left (of the preseason). Both of those guys are getting acclimated and receiving a lot of work. It felt like (Marshon) Lattimore last week had a good week with the Chargers and Ryan (Ramczyk) the same way. They are receiving a ton of reps so we will keep developing those guys and getting them the work they need prior to when we start the season.”

What has Adrian Peterson done to show you he is ready?

“I think the offseason work. He has a bounce to his step. Both he and Mark are both itching to get in preseason games and so far we have handled that well. We will try to get him some work here Saturday.”

What is encouraging about Malik Foreman?

“There’s a lot of transactions happening throughout camp and when you come in new we’ll keep paying attention (to the new additions). How he does in the kicking game’s vital. Hopefully, we receive more exposure to those guys. I feel like the last two preseason games in our punt return phase, for whatever reason we had some short punts versus Cleveland that we were not able to field. They were just balls that you had to stay away from and it happened last week. So hopefully we can get some opportunities not only so we can grade the returners, but how we are blocking.”

What did you guys like about Zach Line and Bryan Braman?

“One for special teams and the other one is an experienced fullback that will give us some good competition, so we felt like it was a good move for us at this time.”

Is there anyone other than Chris Banjo that is having a good special teams camp?

“I think a handful of guys. I think Boom’s (Obum Gwacham) doing a great job in the kicking game. I think Brandon Coleman’s doing a good job. (Daniel) Lasco’s a guy we drafted because of what we saw in his coverage (skills). I could go through a handful of players, (Nate) Stupar will play a big role in that, Craig Robertson, Rafael Bush and all of those guys. We are going to have to really sort through this roster when it comes to our final cut.”

How do you weigh when you use a starter or a key contributor on offense of defense?

“We have to get some work with them and yet be mindful of where we are at in the preseason. When we discuss the roles for a game, we discuss offense and defense and what phase, and how they are playing. Field goal, field goal block is easy. Usually we put that into halves. When we get to punt, punt return, kick and kickoff return we talk about individuals and when they are out the one thing we don’t want to do is have them not playing offense and defense and coming back in the second half. We try to map out a pitch count for every player. We know how the returners are going to rotate whether it is every two or three plays. We know how the coverage units are going to rotate and it is one of the challenges obviously in the preseason with 90 players.”

How has (Justin) Drescher looked?

“Usually when you haven’t noticed anything with the long snapper, it is usually a good sign. We will keep paying attention to it.”

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen

2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What kind of camp is Sheldon Rankins having?

“I think Sheldon is having a solid camp. I think we’re getting to see some of the things he can do. He was a little disruptive in the backfield the other night in the game and made a nice play out here today. Obviously we will get back in, look at the tape and evaluate, but I’m pleased with where he’s at and what he’s doing so far”.

Does he look more comfortable this year more removed from the training camp injury in 2016?

“I would say he’s getting back to where he was when he first came in last year. I don’t know that he had the explosion and the quickness, maybe after the injury of what you had before you’re beginning to see a little bit more of that now. So, that’s always a positive sign.”

How would you describe Sterling Moore’s day today?

“I thought Sterling had a really good day. Obviously we’re just coming off the practice field, but I thought he did a really nice job. Sterling is one of those veteran players that’s savvy and understands how to play the game. He knows what his strengths are and what his limitations are and he’s able to play to those. I would say he had a good day today and he’s had a pretty good camp.”

How would you describe his strengths?

“I think the first thing is I think he’s a smart football player. I think he understands the game. He understands how teams are trying to attack him. That’s the first thing that I would say. Athletically, he’s probably not in the upper tier athletically, but you could make up for that in a lot of things if you understand who you are as a football player, can play to those strengths and limit some of those weaknesses.”

He hasn’t received as many looks in my eyes with the ones? Is that because other guys have passed him up or do the other guys need more work than him?

“I think we’re in the evaluation process, especially with those young guys. I got a pretty good idea of what Sterling Moore is and who Sterling Moore is. I think we’re really trying to get a true evaluation of some of these young guys and where we are with some of these young guys.”

How hard is it to know how ready Marshon Lattimore is with the amount of camp he has missed?

“It’s a challenge. But we drafted him in the first round for a reason. He has tremendous athletic ability.  I think you saw some of those signs both in the week of practice against the Chargers and then also in the game. So, it’s a work in progress. There are still some things he has to get better at and he needs to be out here and get these reps and be able to do that. I don’t think it’s at a position right now where we hit the panic button on that. I think we still have some time to get some evaluations out there.”

How do you feel about the depth at defensive tackle?

“I think we have a group of guys who can go in there and play. I think you’re always looking to your depth in whatever the position is. But we do have a little bit of a mixture of some youth and veteran presence inside. So I kind of like the combination that we have. As with every position, we are always looking to see how we can improve.”

For some of these ends that can kick inside, would that change the number of tackles you would keep on the 53-man roster or is that unrelated?

“I think versatility always lends you the ability to be flexible as to who you keep and how many at each position you keep. I think that will obviously be something that we’ll take into account whenever we get down to the 53-man roster.”

Can you talk about how you felt about your performance defensively in the final periods today?

“We got two stops in the two-minute, so that’s good work and that’s an area that we have to improve upon. This game and in the NFL it comes down to playing situational football. A lot of these games come down to a two-minute drive whether you’re on offense or defense. For us, our job is to go out there and stop them, so I was pleased.”

It seems like in your first full year on the job last year you were trying to identify a middle linebacker/quarterback of the defense. Is some of that your input and what you wanted and has A.J. Klein provided that?

“I think any great defense that you are on, it starts with having somebody that’s a great communicator. The best defenses are always noisy defenses. That’s always something that we’re continuing to try to improve on especially with a lot of these younger guys getting them to talk more pre-snap and post-snap and so having a guy like A.J. that has some experience has been very beneficial and Manti (Te’o) the same way. I think that’s a good situation that we’re in right now”

A.J. seems to have an authoritative personality. Is it rare for a guy to come to a new team like that, especially a guy who hasn’t always been in that role and to be so vocal?

“I think everybody has to play to their personality. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion. I think it’s good to have players like that. They’re going to do it themselves first, that’s the first thing where they demand it of themselves before you can demand it of anybody else you have to make those sacrifices too. That’s what I think makes him a good leader.”

How has Ryan Nielsen meshed and how he’s handled his group?

“I think Ryan’s doing a good job. You never really know when you get a guy coming out of college and he comes into the National Football League exactly how he’s going to respond to that situation, but I think a good football coach is a good football coach no matter where they come from and I think he’s very sound fundamentally, he’s very demanding on the players, but yet he builds a good relationship and has a way of getting them to do what he wants them to do. I’ve been pleased with that.”

How do you evaluate a guy like Al-Quadin Muhammad who has been making plays against guys who are primarily backups but nevertheless with him doing some good things in games?

“You evaluate him based on the competition that he’s going against and I’ve been pleased with some of the things we’ve seen out of him. As we’ve gone through the course of training camp, there have been times where we’ve gotten him up against the best competition and you’re looking to see if you are getting the same level of player against a little better competition as I am against some of the twos and threes. I have been seeing that out of him. He’s a young player that’s out here everyday trying to get better and improve. That’s ultimately what we’re looking for is how do guys improve on a day-to-day basis.”

You were familiar with Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and an evacuation and do you know what the Texans are going through?

“Quite honestly, I’m going to be honest with you, I had no idea. I was talking to Rick Smith out here and he was telling me what was going on there and I really had no idea because I’m so focused on what we have going on here and how we’re going to get better as a football team. But, yes that’s obviously a challenge and something that you have to deal with and you have to realize that you aren’t just dealing with football here. You’re dealing with families too. So, I think all of us here in New Orleans understand what those guys are dealing with and we are thinking about them and hoping for the best for their city.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How have you thought Adrian (Peterson) has looked as a receiver?

“I’ve actually been impressed with the way he catches the ball. For a guy who, that’s not what he is known for obviously. But he certainly is capable of doing that and that just makes him even more of a threat. When he’s in the game he can catch screen passes. He can catch balls out of the backfield. We can motion him out of the backfield and he can run routes. It just makes him more versatile”.

Is there a different level of anticipation with Adrian? I mean you’ve been working with him for a while now but now going into an actual game situation, is there a different level of anticipation?

“I feel like he approaches practice just like he does a game. He is really intense, he runs angry. He attacks the line of scrimmage. Never if we’re in a practice rep and I handed the ball off to him and had any different feel. It is one speed all the time. I think he just clicks in and when it’s time to play, it’s time to play regardless of whether it’s practice or a game.”

Tom Savage talked about how special it is for him to watch, work with and work against Tom Brady last week, Drew Brees this week, what does that mean to you for him to call you the greatest of all-time and two of the greatest?

“Well, that’s humbling. I have a lot of respect for him especially the way he approached last season and the job that he did when he came him. Certainly seems like the team has a lot of confidence in him, listening to the way other guys talk about him and the way the coach talks about him. But that’s an honor when a guy says that about you”.

(Tom) Brady mentioned last week that pro football players watch a lot of college games in the hotel, he saw a lot of Deshaun Watson at Clemson and you saw a little bit of him today, what do you think of him?

“He’s as talented as they come and he’s played in and won a lot of big football games. He’s played extremely well against some pretty well respected teams and defenses. Obviously when you look at that Alabama defense and what he was able to accomplish against those guys over the last two years (it’s impressive). Again, he’s been in a lot of big situations and won a lot of big games. Anytime you take a step to the NFL from college, there are adjustments, it’s a new system. The speed of the game. Probably what he gets to go up against everyday with that defense and that pass rush. That is more going to equip him and prepare him for what the NFL is going to be”.

When you are looking out and seeing J.J. (Watt) and Jadeveon (Clowney) out there, what’d you think?

“Well, I’ve played against those guys a few times now, whether it’d be practicing against them or in games against them. They are as good as they get. And throw (Whitney) Mercilus at the end of the deal and that linebacker core, that’s as good of a front seven as you’re going to get in football without a doubt”.

You knew Deshaun (Watson) or met him before this, right?

“I actually met Deshaun Watson out in San Diego before the draft. He was working out out there a little bit. I knew the guy he was training with and he had mentioned that he wanted me to come out there and see those guys, so I went out and met him there. That was my first time, actually I take that back. I shook his hand at the Super Bowl but then I saw him train in March in San Diego a little bit”.

Does he see you as a mentor? Did you talk to him about the transitions and maybe what’s required of you in the early years before you get your shot?

“I was asked to do that for him in March. My friend who was training him said, ‘hey, would you come out and just talk to these guys’. I said, ‘sure’ and came out and saw him and a couple of other draft picks. I just gave them my perspective in my experience, be it 16 years previous. What they do now to prepare those guys for the draft and what it’s like to be in the NFL is light-years ahead of where we were 16 years ago. But I tried to give him as much advice as I could”.

A review of how you did in that two-minute offense towards the end, how would you describe it?

“We moved the ball. That’s a tough defense. It’s a great pass rush. They have some really good secondary players. It’s one of those just take what you can get. I felt like we moved the ball down the field a little bit and then you’re just waiting for your opportunity to maybe make a big play. Once we got deep into their territory, I do know if you knew the situation but it was when you’re just playing for a field goal. We were right on the outskirts of field goal range so you know you’re going to get an aggressive look from them and (we) were able to hit a big play”.

Are you excited about Saturday, your possible only work this preseason? It has to be tough just sitting on the sideline in the first two preseason games watching?

“I get a little antsy. You prepare all week to play in games. You do not just practice to practice. I’m looking forward to it. Obviously it’s against a very good team. Hopefully as a first unit we go out there and we’re sharp and we execute very well and score points. This is all preparation for what’s going to happen here in two weeks with our first game at Minnesota. We still have a lot of work to do. It’s just steps at a time and this is the next step”.

What’s your philosophy on playing in the preseason? I know this is the only other time besides the oblique injury that you’ve sat the first two?

“I know that there’s a plan. I know there are a lot of reps that you’re trying to give guys. Times based upon what the rest of the unit looks like, decisions are made to hey let’s just take another opportunity to rest guys and get guys healthy. (The) Bottom line is how do we put ourselves in the best position to be successful Week One and be the most healthy (we can be). For me, I think having practice against Los Angeles for three days last week (was valuable), a lot of good reps there. So you can almost say that replaced what the value of 15 plays would have been in the game because we got a lot of reps. This being the third preseason game, typically is when we play more. I expect us to and we’ll see how we do. I think a lot of how long we play is dependent upon how well we do so we want to look good and we want to be sharp”.

How important do you think it is to get in the Dome tomorrow?

“I know they always put new turf down (every year) so we have to assess the surface. Just familiarity. But the Dome, is the Dome. I can picture it pretty well”.

Looking at all the reps you’ve had against Texans defense in two-minutes, talk about their progression, they’ve really played well.

“I think our defense is playing with a lot of confidence. We have the ability to do a lot of different things. We’re honing in on the things we’re good at. I think those guys are buying in and playing very well together and believing in one another. It just takes time, a lot of time on task. But I think we’ve tried to throw everything we can at them this training camp, and they’ve done the same today. At the end of the day, you feel like that makes both sides better”.

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