Saints starting offensive line practices full Friday, appears set for Eagles playoff matchup

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Terron Armstead, Mark Ingram II

Nine New Orleans Saints players were listed on Friday’s Injury Report for the NFC Divisional Playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams declared one player out for the Sunday afternoon contest.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Pos. Name Injury WED THURS FRI
T Jermon Bushrod Hamstring LP LP FP
T Terron Armstead Pectoral LP LP FP
T Ryan Ramczyk Shoulder LP LP FP
DE Alex Okafor Knee LP LP FP
G Larry Warford Knee LP LP FP
G Andrus Peat Hand LP LP FP
S Chris Banjo Knee FP FP FP
WR Ted Ginn Jr. Knee FP FP FP
WR Simmie Cobbs Knee LP (OUT)

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Pos. Name Injury WED THURS FRI
DE Michael Bennett Foot DNP DNP LP (Questionable)
QB Carson Wentz Back DNP DNP DNP (OUT)
WR Alshon Jeffrey Ribs LP LP LP
LB D.J. Alexander Hamstring LP LP FP (Questionable)
CB Sidney Jones Hamstring LP LP FP (Questionable)
T Jason Peters Quadricep LP LP LP (Questionable)
WR Golden Tate Knee LP LP FP
WR Mike Wallace Ankle LP LP LP (Questionable)
WR Shelton Gibson Hamstring LP (Questionable)

 
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-practice Media Availability
Friday, January 11, 2019

How would you evaluate the week in preparation?
“It’s been good. There’s been two weeks really, the first week, last week with our schedule what we did and then obviously this week’s been all opponent driven. Guys are doing well.”

How is it seeing Malcolm Jenkins on this stage?
“He’s a special player to me. Had a big part of what we accomplished his rookie year, he’s smart, he’s definitely a guy that you see on tape and you see his leadership and it jumps off the film and he’s just a real good football player and a guy that really in hindsight, we shouldn’t have let out of the building. But he and Darren (Sproles)both are doing well.”

The last game you didn’t let up on the gas pedal…
“No that’s not true. Listen if you pay attention to the film and you watch the film, it was one of those games where you’re playing a real good offense and late in the game we scored a touchdown, but we were 30 something at that point. But we played well.”

Do you realize they are going to use the game from earlier this year as motivation?
“It’s a divisional playoff game. My question would be, we’re all playing hard in these divisional playoff games right. Are you going to play harder? All right. Next good question.”

There’s new pictures in the locker room. Why did you change some things?
“What’s in there is our team’s business not yours.”

Coach how much has their secondary improved on tape than earlier this year?
“It has. I think they’ve been real consistent. Number one, they’ve minimized the big plays and they have gone up against some pretty good offenses. There is this period of the season where you can see on film this consistent lineup. I think prior to that there had been a lot of moving parts and I think Jim (Schwartz) has done a good job of getting that group settled in and you can see the communication when they are in their dime package. Certainly, Malcolm (Jenkins) is inside in their nickel (package). There are several packages (where) you see three-safety look last week to Chicago. We have to prepare for all of it. But I think they’re playing a lot better.”

Does it help to play a team you’ve already played this season?
“I think it feels a little bit like when, oftentimes in the playoffs it’s not unusual to play a division opponent. It happened to us last year relative to Carolina the first game we’d already played them twice and then Minnesota the next game we’d already played them early in the year. I think it happens more often than you think. Now that game seems like it was a long time ago, relative to the season so that film is important, but all the games (are important) we’ve got all 16 weeks and the playoff (game). You have all that on your video screen, cut ups and everything in (between). But having played them, certainly for both teams, I’m sure there’s a familiarity with personnel that I think is probably most important.”

Did they play more man than you expected last game?
“Yes they did and over the years I’ve always followed Jim (Schwartz) and respected the job he does on defense. He’s been a great coach in our league and I just remember the last game going back and looking at every tape trying to find cases where maybe a top receiver was getting help and getting doubled. There have been some examples and yet in our game it was a ton of man and a ton of double on Mike (Thomas) and that really forced other players to have to (step up) (Keith) Kirkwood or Tre’Quan (Smith) or Dan Arnold. Other guys had to make plays. There are times where they were doubling Alvin (Kamara) and doubling and Mike (Thomas) literally and everyone else had kind of a cover zero look. It forced us to make some adjustments quickly, but that’s the fun thing about the games because there’s always some things that maybe we’re preparing for here that we’re not going to see Sunday and then quickly you have to adjust.”

Is that a drastic change in how you call the game?
“It’s not a drastic change, relative to how you call the game, but it’s a drastic change relative to who might be within the progression of certain plays (and) What you want to do in the run game. It’s challenging when if Alvin’s a primary it just forces these other guys in the route to have an opportunity to make some plays and fortunately last time we played them we did.”

What’s your impression of Doug Pederson the play-caller?
“He came to Philadelphia when I left there. I was on Ray Rhodes staff in 97 and 98 and then went to the Giants and then Andy Reid got hired and Doug was playing and was a part of (Donovan) McNabb’s development (as his backup). His wife is from here. I consider him a real good friend now in the last year and a half. We’ve had a chance to play some golf and I think what he’s done there has been fantastic. I grew up in Philadelphia and can remember all those Eagles teams and when you’re the first to win a Super Bowl for a city like that, that’s pretty special.”

Do you think being the underdog persona starts with the head coach for being responsible in building that underdog culture?
“I think it probably starts with being the underdog. All of the above probably. I can’t speak for the mechanics or chemistry of how their season unfolded. I do remember the injury last year and then all of a sudden they started playing well, Nick (Foles) was fantastic and obviously there’s some similarities to the way they have been playing these stretch of games and all of them have been big games that they’ve had to win. But I know Doug does a great job and when you watch them as a team, the win they had last week on the road was impressive. I think we felt Chicago was one of the (most) dangerous teams in the tournament. We felt like, that’s a tough team. With the way they play defense and the way they’re improved on offense, that was a big win. That was a huge win for them. We have tried to this week, really our focus each week is more internal driven, with how we’re preparing, than it is at external.”

Drew Brees turns 40 next week, do you still find yourself amazed at some of the things that Drew is still able to do at that age?
“I’ve said this before, I don’t think you really see age until you see the children of your peers and then all of a sudden you realize wow and so when his kids come by the facility is when I feel like ahh and I’m sure he feels the same way when my children are here. When you’re around someone that much. His preparation and all of that, he’s had an outstanding season and I do not feel (like it’s) 40 for him. I think it has been really uneventful relative to seeing any (age). He is playing at such a high level. I’m glad he is our quarterback.

Is there anything that stands out from your first playoff game here against the Eagles in 2006?
“There are a few things. That was (when) Andy (Reid) was the head coach, the late Jim Johnson, who was a fantastic defensive coordinator in our league was part of that staff. That was our first year. We played them in the regular season and that was a hard-fought game. I do not remember a whole lot about the game itself. I remember Deuce (McAllister) had this run that lasted like 14 seconds. But that would be it.”

What do you see in Philadelphia’s screen game that impresses you and obviously a guy like Darren Sproles?
“He has real good awareness and I think Darren has got incredibly good instincts on setting up some of these screens and Philly does a great job of giving you five, six, seven different looks on screens. Quite honestly, we haven’t been as good this year as we have in other years in that area, but a lot of it depends on the opponent you’re playing. But I think it’s part of what they do and they do a great job of kind of giving you a direction here and then coming back over there. Obviously, you need to have good eyes and really spend time on the formation, the depth of the back all those things that might give you some indicators. But Darren and even the tight end got involved last week. It’s something they do well.”

How much does their gameplan from earlier this season offensively impact what your defense will do?
“We all have a system we run offensively and defensively and then there’s certain things you do off of it and I think that obviously there’s a different quarterback playing and yet they’re still in a system that they believe in and so look that’s part of the puzzle. But it’s not a greater piece than the game they just played. There’s some common opponents that help us more. It’s harder for us sometimes if we’re watching Philly’s defense versus Tennessee maybe with a (running) quarterback that is going to pose different threats. There’s some tapes that are more beneficial than others and I think that would be the case on the other side of the ball.”

Is it pretty amazing to see what Darren Sproles has done at his age?
“Yes, absolutely he’s fun to watch. Darren looks exactly like he did when he was here and in San Diego. He practices at a certain level. He’s fun to watch.”

Why did you sit Alvin Kamara the final week of the season?
“It’s hard to do (sit a lot of players) that when you’re playing a game because you have 46 guys (that have to be active). For him it made sense. The first four weeks of the season he had more touches than maybe you’d like. Just relative to what he was averaging prior and we looked at each player individually and just made a decision that we thought was best for us and he’s moving around well and doing well it wasn’t injury related. It was probably more rest.”

Do you think last years’ experience in the playoffs for the younger guys will help for this year’s playoffs?
“I think so. Anytime you have experienced something, then you go back through it a second time, I think we’re all better for whatever it is that we’re doing. The big thing with that message is look we get in such a routine, relative to our work week and as the playoffs begin those can be a little bit more difficult to protect and there are a lot of different ways that you can be distracted and they’ve got a good week here and I think that playing at home there is a ton of benefits and yet this is one of those cities when someone says hey we’ll come see a game and you’re like I’ve been at other places where they say that and they don’t come, but they come here and so everyone will have a lot of visitors.”

New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, January 11, 2019

“Sean (Payton) was saying in the last game that they showed you guys more man coverage than you’re expecting to get. I’m just curious how that kind of affects how you guys go through the game and just what kind of adjustments you had to make last time?
“Well I think that you kind of got to be prepared for all situations as you go into a game. These guys do a great job mixing up their schemes by game plan, so I think that as the game progresses along, you start to get a feel for how that game is going. And you get to those things that you feel have a chance to have success against that.”

How have they looked since (the last meeting). I know they’ve got some new guys in corner and what you see from their defense?
“I think first of all, I think they do a great job getting pressure on the quarterback up front. They have a group of athletic linebackers. I think they have a smart, instinctive secondary. Malcolm Jenkins does a great job leading those guys back there. And then as you look at the defense as a whole, they’re playing great situational football. You know, they’re tops in the league and third down red zone and as of late, they’ve been forcing a lot of turnovers. So we’ve got a challenge ahead of us.”

As a fellow play caller, do have a respect for what the Eagles have accomplished with their two quarterbacks over the past couple of years. I mean how difficult is that to kind of switch things up late in the season like they’ve done the last couple years?
“I think Doug Peterson’s obviously done a great job and the opportunities that maybe you’ve had a chance to watch them offensively as you’re maybe studying a different defense you see that they’ve got a group of players that are all on the same page. And that’s a credit to the coaching and the players for them.”

With Drew (Brees) coming up on his 40th birthday, just what are some things about his approach that you think have allowed him to have the longevity and still playing it at the high level he is at his age?
“Well I think he just does a great job. I mean it’s a year round process for him as far as having a routine and what he does not only during the season, but once the season is complete. You know just everything, the way he eats, the way he works out, the way he trains. He always has a plan and a vision going forward. And so he’s obviously been able to continue that success and we’ve been fortunate for that.”

At this point in Tre’Quan’s (Smith) rookie year, do he and Ted Ginn do pretty similar things, or are there still some differences in their roles?
“I think that you would say that there are obviously are some similarities in their role. And yet, you would say that there’s also a few things that maybe we use them in different spots for. So I don’t know if I’m really answering your question, but I think that yeah they have a lot of similarities. And then there’s just a few things that they do differently.”

Is there anything about the stuff you guys do that changes based on which offensive linemen are playing?
“I think this – we have our offense and every week we pay attention, obviously, to who’s lining up for us, who’s going to be where. And for us, one of the biggest things we do is just kind of you know paying attention to matchups, not only up front but also out on the perimeter as well.”

When you’re sitting down – and you’ve spent a lot of time with Sean (Payton) over the years, what you think his greatest strength is as a play caller and a game planner? What have you seen out of him?
“Well, I think he has such just a great feel for how the game’s unfolding and getting to the call that is just, ‘Aw man, that was – in that situation, that was the perfect call.’ So obviously, he’s done a great job throughout his career. He’s not afraid to be aggressive. He just he just knows when the right time is for certain plays to come up. And I think one of the things is that him and Drew (Brees) are always so much on the same page. It’s been fun to be a part of.”

Is that something that is built during the week and seeing something on film and knowing kind of what you can do to either exploit or take advantage of that? Is it a feel for the game? Feel for how you or your personnel’s is playing? How does he do that?
“Well I think that’s all part of the game planning process throughout the week. You know, studying film and even part of it could be adjusted as the game’s unfolding. Boy, I said by the time we get to Sunday, Drew (Brees) and Sean (Payton) have such a good feel together of what they’re comfortable with. What they like that’s been put in the game plan and obviously have had success.”

New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Friday, January 11, 2019

“Sean (Payton) was saying in the last game that they showed you guys more man coverage than you’re expecting to get. I’m just curious how that kind of affects how you guys go through the game and just what kind of adjustments you had to make last time?
“I think that you have to be prepared for all situations as you go into a game. These guys do a great job mixing up their schemes by gameplan, so I think that as the game progresses along, you start to get a feel for how that game is going. And you get to those things that you feel have a chance to have success against that.”

How have they looked since (the last meeting). I know they’ve got some new guys in corner and what you see from their defense?
“I think first of all, I think they do a great job getting pressure on the quarterback up front. They have a group of athletic linebackers. I think they have a smart, instinctive secondary. Malcolm Jenkins does a great job leading those guys back there. And then as you look at the defense as a whole, they’re playing great situational football. They are tops in the league and third down (and) red zone (defense) and as of late, they have been forcing a lot of turnovers. So we’ve got a challenge ahead of us.”

As a fellow offensive coach and one with extensive work with quarterbacks, do you have a respect for what the Eagles have accomplished with their two quarterbacks over the past couple of years. How difficult is that to kind of switch things up late in the season like they’ve done the last couple years?
“I think Doug Peterson has obviously done a great job and the opportunities that maybe you have had a chance to watch them offensively as you are maybe studying a different defense you see that they have got a group of players that are all on the same page. And that’s a credit to the coaching and the players for them.”

With Drew (Brees) coming up on his 40th birthday, just what are some things about his approach that you think have allowed him to have the longevity and still playing at the high level he is at his age?
“Well I think he just does a great job. It’s a year-round process for him as far as having a routine and what he does not only during the season, but once the season is complete. Just everything, the way he eats, the way he works out, the way he trains. He always has a plan and a vision going forward. And so he’s obviously been able to continue that success and we’ve been fortunate for that.”

At this point in Tre’Quan’s (Smith) rookie year, do he and Ted Ginn do pretty similar things, or are there still some differences in their roles?
“I think that you would say that there are obviously are some similarities in their role. And yet, you would say that there’s also a few things that maybe we use them in different spots for. So I don’t know if I’m really answering your question, but I think that yeah they have a lot of similarities. And then there’s just a few things that they do differently.”

Is there anything about the stuff you guys do that changes based on which offensive linemen are playing?
“I think this – we have our offense and every week we pay attention, obviously, to who’s lining up for us, who’s going to be where. And for us, one of the biggest things we do is just kind of you know paying attention to matchups, not only up front but also out on the perimeter as well.”

When you’re sitting down – and you’ve spent a lot of time with Sean (Payton) over the years, what you think his greatest strength is as a play-caller and a gam planner? What have you seen out of him?
“I think he has such just a great feel for how the game’s unfolding and getting to the call that is just, ‘Aw man, that was – in that situation, that was the perfect call.’ So obviously, he’s done a great job throughout his career. He’s not afraid to be aggressive. He just knows when the right time is for certain plays to come up. And I think one of the things is that him and Drew (Brees) are always so much on the same page. It’s been fun to be a part of.”

Is that something that is built during the week and seeing something on film and knowing kind of what you can do to either exploit or take advantage of that? Is it a feel for the game? Feel for how you or your personnel are is playing? How does he do that?
“Well I think that’s all part of the gameplanning process throughout the week, studying film and even part of it could be adjusted as the game’s unfolding. I said by the time we get to Sunday, Drew (Brees) and Sean (Payton) have such a good feel together of what they’re comfortable with. What they like that’s been put in the gameplan and obviously have had success (with).”

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, January 11, 2019

What impresses you about Nick Foles?
“I think Nick Foles does a really good job of distributing the ball to his playmakers, gets them the ball and lets them do a lot of work for him. It is certainly going to be a big challenge. I think schematically there’s probably not a ton different in terms of what they do, but yet how they operate I think is probably a little bit different. I think, again, they’re a team that won a World Championship last year with Nick Foles as their quarterback and they have a lot of confidence in that.”

How tough is it to match up with all the weapons they have? So many different guys with different body types and athleticism.
“Certainly it’s a challenge. They have exceptional skill players with (Zach) Ertz and in and (Alson) Jeffrey and (Nelson) Agholor, and (Brandon) Tate and Darren Sproles coming out of the backfield. It’s certainly a challenge for us and we’re going to have to be able to do a really good job on those guys and I think our guys are up for the challenge.”

What’s the difficulty facing a quarterback that’s thrown the ball in 2.1, 2.2 seconds sometimes?
“I think when you look at it, our rush and coverage are going to have to work together. We’re going to have to be able to do some things in coverage to hopefully get him to have to hold the ball and maybe go to a second or third read. The thing for our defensive line is that we can’t get impatient. We’ve got to understand that he does a really good job of getting rid of the football and don’t get discouraged with the pass rush and keep going at it for 60 minutes.”

When you look at Doug Pederson and his game plans and play-calling on tape, how would you kind of define what he does? Obviously, he came up under Andy Reid. Just holistically, what is his offense and who is he as a play-caller?
“I think Coach Pederson does an outstanding job of calling plays and utilizing his players. I think he’s very creative in how he utilizes his players. I think he understands exactly what they do well and puts those guys in those positions to do those things a majority of the time. I’d also say that he’s an aggressive play caller. He’s going to look for his opportunities to take his shots. He’s going to look for his opportunities to pull out one of these gadget plays to try to fool the defense. He makes you have to work and focus and concentrate for 60 minutes. You can’t take one play and just kind of play the play because at that moment in time he’ll give you some sort of trick play, reverse, double pass, something like that that that’s going to hurt you. We’ve got to do a really good job specifically in the back end of our defense, linebackers, and DBs, and making sure we’ve got good eyes in this game plan because they do a lot of things to challenge you.”

Do you see any similarities between him and Sean (Payton)?
“Certainly I would say the similarities would be that I think both of those guys understand their personnel. I think both of those guys utilize their personnel and they’re always looking for different and creative ways to attack the defense. That’s probably the best way to describe it.”

Obviously, we all know he didn’t grow up playing the sport, but with that in mind what kind of growth do you continue to see from David Onyemata?
“I think he’s getting better every week in terms of just understanding NFL football I guess is probably the best way to say it. It’s a pretty amazing story in that he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but yet the growth that I’ve seen from him in these three years has been really pretty impressive. I think this year was the year you kind of saw a little bit more of the production step up for him. I think every day that he’s out there he continues to learn and continues to get better.”

We haven’t talked to you since Week 17. Did y’all end up pulling (Marshon) Lattimore earlier than some of the other guys?
“That’s been that’s been so long ago. I can’t remember exactly what we did. There was a plan to get some of those guys out of the game and certainly at some point in time, we decide to get them out.”

Not specific to anything, but just in theory, like if you’re in a game and an offense starts doing a bunch of stuff you’ve never seen before or aren’t expecting, what’s kind of the adjustment process like for you guys and the coaching staff?
“I think each NFL game you go into a game plan with how you want to play the game and then you’ve got to be able to adjust to you’re seeing from the offense. That’s pretty typical in a game, that as the game’s going on, you’re seeing what the offense is trying to do and how they’re trying to attack you. It’s just a chess match. They make a move and then we’ve got to make a move to try to be able to counter attack that and then we might have something that they haven’t seen and now they’re over there on the sideline trying to make an adjustment to that. That’s pretty typical of an NFL game.”

When you say Doug Pederson is an aggressive play caller ball, I know they go for it obviously a lot in fourth down situations, but in terms of the big plays it seems like they can really gash you. Is that something that he’s constantly looking for to really hit you big or is that kind of a function of repetition?
“I think as with all good play-callers, they’re always looking for the opportunity to get the explosive play. I’m sure just like everybody else, they’re watching what we’re doing and paying attention to how we’re playing and they’re looking for where’s the opportunity that I can get an explosive play. Then when they feel like that opportunity presents itself, I think he does a really good job of timing in terms of when he tries to do those things in and they do a good job of executing it.”

I don’t know how much attention you pay to him, but Drew Brees is coming up on age 40. Just watching him from the other side, is there anything about his approach that stands out to you?
“I think it is the best I have ever seen. Just watching him and how he goes about his daily routine. He’s very meticulous about his routine and what he does. That’s what the really great, great players do. They have a routine. They’re very disciplined in how they stick to their routine and it doesn’t matter what the game is whether it’s preseason or it’s in the Super Bowl. It’s a constant discipline and a focus on the preparation process and I’ve never seen anybody do it any better than him.”

Have you heard anything definitive either way from the Dolphins at this point?
“No I have not and quite honestly I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to them. I appreciate the organization, Sean, and Mickey (Loomis) giving me that opportunity, but really since then the focus has been all about the Philadelphia Eagles and trying to win a playoff game.”

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