Saints coach Sean Payton post-practice press conference (Aug. 11)

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon

Friday, August 11, 2017

You mentioned that there were workouts today. A couple of them have been reported. Any comment?

“I have not looked at what has been reported, but yes there were. We will work a bunch of guys out. I am not interested in knowing what was reported.”

You mentioned yesterday that you needed the opportunity to come back and look at the tape. Now that you have seen it, what are your thoughts on Ken Crawley’s game yesterday?

“The one observation I have is I liked the way we contested the ball in the secondary early on. The first group did a good job. We have to clean up a couple of the penalties, but quietly, he and De’Vante Harris have been having a pretty good camp, as well as P.J. Williams. I thought on the back end, we did some things that were encouraging.”

With Ken Crawley and De’Vante Harris how do you distinguish a good camp from good performance, as they had good camps last year too?

“They had decent camps, but Ken has a lot more playing time now, having played last year. With De’Vante, it was a bit up and down. They are further along in their growth.”

Was there anybody that jumped out to you, surprised you, or impressed you?

“I don’t know if ‘surprise’ would be the right word. When you watch it all—some guys had really good performances. Tommylee Lewis did some good things. Yet, there are a few things that you look at, and you know you have to get them cleaned up. Alvin Kamara had a few plays early on that were encouraging. I thought it was good to see Manti Te’o out there a bit. He is making progress, which is encouraging. Those are a few from off of the top of my head.”

Can you get any sense of the depth of the defensive line, or is it still too early to tell that?

“There are a few things that you have a feel for. As much as anything, it’s not even your base. It’s how you want to handle the situational rush packages with regards to who’s inside. The thing unique to that position is that the final group will all receive snaps because of the nature of what they do. You need fresh players in there. That might not be the case at right guard or at other positions on your team. Certainly it is on the defensive line. A lot of those guys will play.”

You mentioned De’Vante Harris and Ken Crawley. How much better do you feel about the cornerbacks now, given all of the injuries last season?

“We have a handful of young players that have experience. When you look at P.J. Williams, Ken Crawley, or De’Vante Harris, there are a number of these guys that have game experience. I think they’re starting to play with some confidence. You see growth in practices. There are certain days when you come off the field, and that was a good day for those guys. You don’t just have confidence; it’s demonstrated ability at some point. When they demonstrate it, they get a little bit more.”

How much does a coach’s experience with them matter?

“Seeing them (matters). Our jobs when we put a gameplan together are to try to give them the things that they do very well, defensively or offensively. In other words, it is not just a matter of saying, ‘This is our scheme. This is what we run.’ There’s some flexibility that takes place with your personnel as to how you want to play the game. So, when you can see, time and time again, Michael Hoomanawanui block a defensive end in protection, I then feel a bit more comfortable asking him to do that in a game as opposed to simply asking whoever’s in the game at tight end to do that. So, that would apply.”

You have a crowded group at wide receiver. Tommylee Lewis had a great catch last night. Was that the kind of catch that can get you far into training camp and give you the confidence to make the team?

“You guys that have covered us before (know this). There’s a lot of competition at wide receiver. He’s one of those guys that’s obviously fighting (for a roster spot). How he plays in the kicking game and how he plays going forward, all those things will factor in. If he makes a mistake, it’s generally not an effort mistake. It was a good job by him to keep that play from being reviewed. He protected the ball in the way he turned and got a clean catch. It was a good play.”

When you talk to Bill (Parcells), does he bring him up every time?

“He generally knows. He will watch the games. He has a handful of players that he will ask about. Generally, if him and I speak, it’s more about how our team is doing. If he brings up his name, it’s not usually good. Fortunately, we have not spoken about him in a while.”

Al-Quadin Muhammad got in the game pretty early last night. How have you seen him progress?

“He is learning. He has a ways to go, but he is athletic, he is strong, he is a physical player, and he will play through a tackle. It is just a matter of him getting reps and the scheme down.”

How encouraging can a play like Hau’oli Kikaha had be for someone coming back from what he went through?

“I think it is important for him to receive a live look against someone else and to get those rushes. I think it is very important.”

What is your review of the camp Ted Ginn Jr. is having?

“I think it has been solid. I think it has been good. You always want to see the player still run, and I have seen that. I think he is doing well.”

He has battled drop issues in his career. When he has one in a preseason game, do you count one off because he has such a long track record?

“I am comfortable with the player. He is going to make more big plays than not. I like his focus, and I like the way he approaches the game. He is one of those guys for whom, if you run the ball 35 times and throw it a handful of times, it does not matter. He just wants to win. I think that is contagious in that room.”

How was it going through a game with all the new staff members?

“Fairly smooth, yet there are a few things we have to clean up, as you would expect. You try to think of all the different things that come up in a game. You think of your expectations of everything—from how you travel to what you want at the hotel and (on the) sideline. Overall, there is a list that I covered this morning with everyone. It was probably how I expected it to go. It was pretty smooth.”

It seemed like P.J. Williams had a good night in run support. How much is that a factor as you are going through these competitions?

“They have to tackle. The corners have to tackle. I know offensively, if we feel a corner cannot tackle, we can make him tackle. That is important.”

What are you seeing differently from Ryan Nassib?

“He’s a player who has confidence. That’s one of his really good assets. He hasn’t been here very long, but he can pick up and understand the offense and get through his progression. He can get in and out of the huddle. There’s a veteran experience element with him, and that’s calming when he’s out there. I think the other ten guys benefit from that. He will continue to get work, but he has developed a pretty good handle on what we are doing in a short amount of time.”

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