Saints sign local product Chris Clark to compete for offensive line spot
The Saints added another veteran to compete for a roster spot on their offensive line by signing New Orleans native Chris Clark, head coach Sean Payton confirmed Monday. The team also added fullback Shane Smith to the training camp roster.
Clark, a McDonogh 35 and Southern Miss product, started 13 games in his first and only season with the Carolina Panthers last year. The 10-year pro, experienced at both tackle spots, joins his sixth NFL team.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Clark has 66 NFL starts to his credit.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2019 Training Camp Presented by Verizon
Monday, August 12, 2019
Post-Practice Media Availability
“We signed two players, fullback Shane Smith and tackle Chris Clark, to the roster. Any questions about today?”
When you were looking to fill your special teams staff openings, what made (Darren) Rizzi and (Phil) Galiano guys you wanted to pursue?
“The late Tony Sparano and I worked together in Dallas for three years and he’s someone that I would say I was very close with. Tony hired Darren at the college level. So, I had heard a lot of good things from Tony about him. He was at Miami. I’d met him on a handful of occasions and overall I thought it was good fit for us, his experience and his ability to teach, his teams have played well. That’s how that began.”
The specialists were really strong last year. The coverage units were really strong too so for those guys to step in, they have that solid place to work in.
“Mike (Westhoff) did a tremendous job and Brad and Kevin. Very quickly we ascended to become one of the better special teams units in the NFL and you can look at, depending on how you want to look at it, but it played a key part in us winning 13 games a year ago, 14 when considering the playoff game. But there were a handful of games that went in our favor and there was a play that we could point to in the kicking game that had a lot to do with it. These guys come in with the same mentality as teachers looking to put our players in the best position, be aggressive and have enough things that we can do to take advantage of.”
There’s a bit more work to do before the team goes to California, but how much do you look forward to those two team workouts? You guys seem to get a lot of productive work in against the Chargers.
“Anthony (Lynn) and I worked together for three years. I feel like our last two times we’ve been with them have been real productive. Both teams are really wanting to get better. They understand that. It’s a good climate change this time of the year when you have that opportunity. You’re working against a playoff team, one of the better teams in our league.”
From an evaluation standpoint, can some of these joint practices be more beneficial than a preseason game?
“Yes, I think so. You might receive more reps at something that you might not receive in the game. You can essentially script out what you want to see and then who you want to see do it for your own team. And sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult in the course of a game.
You mentioned yesterday that the team hit a wall. How do you think they responded today?
“Pretty well. We had three good team periods out here. We’ll look at the film and make the corrections. We still need work at the end of the half. That’s what we were doing in that last drill. So, we have to continue to work that.”
What is it about Chris Clark that you like?
“He’s experienced. He’s someone that has played. He’s a guy that can come in right away without as much of a transition maybe as some others.”
Does that apply to Shane Smith as well?
We talk about Drew Brees’ longevity and him playing the game for so long. For maybe positions that are more physical, specifically for (someone like) Ted Ginn Jr. at receiver, what do they have to do to have that same longevity to be going into his thirteenth year?
“There is some good fortune relative to injury (and) health. Obviously there is a lot of training that is involved in it. They have to be able to run and be in shape, especially at that position.”
Are you surprised that Ted (Ginn Jr.) is able to run like that at his age?
“That’s something that he was blessed with. We have this, this term, we don’t need to see it every day, but we still need to see it. He’s a smart player. He understands what we’re trying to do from a scheme standpoint. He’s been a real good addition for us a few years back. We’re excited to have him back.”
Looking at Deonte Harris and the return game, he had a punt return and it was like 23 yards, but there is a penalty. How do you evaluate that when there is a penalty involved even though it was a nice return?
“We pay attention to the return and he gets a plus. Overall in a game there’s a negative impact with a penalty like that. And yet, he did some encouraging things.”
How is Will Clapp growing in his second season?
“He’s doing well, he’s receivng a lot of work. We have a couple of guys nicked up and so when you lose a few players, there’s more reps than you’re receiving. We cut a few reps out of the team periods today, but he’s doing well.”
Geneo Grissom is a guy who seems to be flashing with the second-team defense, third-team defense. What do you see out of him?
“He has a pretty good get off. I think he, along with a handful of those guys in that front, these next few weeks are going to be real important for him.”
Can you describe your relationship or friendship with Anthony Lynn?
“Yes, Anthony and I were with the Cowboys together working as assistant coaches and then we’ve always remained good friends. He’s done a really good job.”
Why is intelligence something you kind of try to identify in a player?
“Generally speaking up, the dumb players do dumb things during course of the game and the games are not really long. The smart players very seldom do dumb things. If you are looking at 11 or 12 series in a game, a dumb mistake might really erase one of them. You get a couple of dumb mistakes and all of a sudden you’re down in a game. The margin of error I think is just too close in our league.”
I know you talked about after the preseason game Friday, but can you speak on the separation issues that Lil’Jordan (Humphrey) is having? Is that the only thing keeping him out of being a consistent receiver?
“No, listen, there’s a lot for someone like him who is a rookie, but he’s competing and we’ve seen some things that we think he does very well. But I would say, not to be or sound cliche, but he’s a work in progress right now. He has some skill sets that we value and we like. He made a few plays the other night and with his body type, you’re not necessarily going to always get the separation you might want, but he’s going to give you a target area away from the defender.”
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