Saints Head Coach Sean Payton’s rookie minicamp press conference

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

2019 Rookie Minicamp Media Availability

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Opening Statement:

“We’re in our second day. We’ve been inside both days just because of the weather.”

How difficult is it to get a read on guys in shells like this, especially with so many guys who you haven’t seen before?

“Look, it’s a series of impressions and for us more than anything, it’s the installation. How they’re picking things up. Are they learning it? Are they able to take it to the field? Obviously, we are not instantly evaluating (but) there are certain elements of the game without shoulder pads on, and you do not realize (that) until you get to training camp. Yet there are a lot of players here for (a) tryout, there are a number of players here that we signed as free agents, there are some veteran players, and then there are the players we drafted. There is a combination of four different groups of players.”

What was your first impression of Erik McCoy?

“He’s been good. He’s smart. He’s a guy that you can see is experienced at his position. He’s playing center, (and) is in good shape. Overall it’s been good.”

Can you recall a veteran who has been in a camp like this who has ended up staying (on the roster)?

“Billy Miller. He was one, but we’ve had a couple. Adam Thielen (Vikings). Thielen was actually a rookie tryout. We went through a list of players the first night they were here. But yes, we’ve had veterans who have been in this camp who’ve helped us. There’ll be a couple here we will look at signing possibly tomorrow or Monday. Hopefully, we can do the same with some of the rookie players.”

Why has this team been so good at getting undrafted free agents?

“I think more than anything you’re trying to find traits that maybe draw you to a player, and then just importantly, what is the vision you have as a coaching staff for that player. When you only have seven rounds, that’s not as many as they used to have. There are a lot of good football players that go undrafted. Each year history tells us that.”

Based on the size of your draft, does it make it easier for a free agent to make your team?

“I do not think it is relative or has anything to do with, specifically, the size of your draft. More importantly these free agents are really well-versed to studying the position group and finding areas. A lot of it has to do with (for example), are we thin at some certain positions? He and his agent are looking at possible landing spots, (and) maybe they have highlighted five (teams) that if they are not drafted, might have more of a need at his position. A lot of it has to do with the depth on the team that they sign with.

Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) looked like he was making some plays. How much can you take from that and seeing a guy come out here (and play)?

“He’s smart, and he’s quickly picked up the installation. He’s had a good couple of days. You can see he’s versatile. I think he can play over the slot in the nickel role, and also as a safety. He’s taken some one on one reps, even in corner. He has some versatility.”

What do you like about Kaden Ellis?

“Number one, he picks things up extremely well. I think he’s a good tackler, I think he’s a guy that has a chance to make it in the kicking game. If you start with some of those traits, that is the first thing that stands out. His vision, and our vision for him in the kicking game and playing on special teams, and then going from there. He has picked things up very well.”

Heard anything from the NFL about David Onyemata?

“No.”

Are you working under the impression he will or won’t be suspended?

“We are working under the impression that he is with us and no we have not (heard otherwise).”

Is there any normal timetable that you know of?

“No, again, I’m sure that there’s a protocol they’ll follow, but he’s doing well. He’s in the offseason program and we’ll kind of go from there.”

Would they give you a heads up about that in advance or would you find out the day a possible suspension might happen.

“I don’t know that that’s going to happen, but, but look, we would always find out before they notify a player.”

What did you think of Cole Tracy this weekend from LSU?

“Good. We have a number of these guys in here. I think the one thing you see is the (adjustment to the) speed (of the NFL). I think most importantly, the difficult thing for the tryout players is, ‘How did they make an impression without pads on?’ How did they jump out? And so part of it is how they’re learning in the meeting room and then how they’re handling what we’re asking them to do during the course of practice, but we’ll watch the tape here as a staff. We’ll look at it closely. We’ll talk about each player specifically and then kind of update our board”

Have you seen him kick as far as range?

Yes. Number one, I think it’s going to be difficult for a kicker (to make this team with Wil Lutz on the roster). I know we’d have an interest in a kicker of that possibly could be a kicker and punter (for training camp). And yet we still have long snappers, punters (out here at the rookie camp). For us, it updates the board. We update a short list. So I think if we were going to sign a kicker, a specialist that way, it probably be someone we felt would be a third leg that could help us in training camp – do both.”

What did Alize` Mack have to answer for you guys about wondering how he handled his Notre Dame experience? He obviously didn’t have the success he expected early in his career.

“A lot of it had to do with why he dropped to where he dropped to. So, for us, we think he has a skillset. There’s an evaluation we do and we look closely at it and there’s certain things that we felt real positive about, and other things that we want to see if he can improve on. But I’m sure specifically to his career, I’m sure there’s things that you would’ve liked (him) to (have) done more consistently, but that happens. So, we’re kind of focused on what he’s doing out here.”

What do you like about him?

“He can move well, I think you see him transition. You see him – he’s a little bit further along in the passing game than he is in the running game.”

Carl Granderson has a trial that begins in July, why were you comfortable bringing him in?

“Felt real comfortable with everything we knew, and so far he’s done a good job here.”

For tryout guys, particularly quarterbacks like James (Tabary), in this short period of time, what are you looking for them to pick up?

“Just the install. In and out of the huddle. Can you see some early signs of accuracy? Their poise. It’s a little bit easier to evaluate those guys early on because you get to see them digest the offense and you get to see them throw in one-on-ones. You get to see him throw on these drills. Probably a little bit more challenging if you’re an offense or defensive lineman.”

What was your first impression of him?

“Not bad. He’s receiving work. He’s receiving reps. I thought he’s handled it pretty well.”

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