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Posted: Thursday, 05 June 2014 4:11PM

Sean Payton, Pete Carmichael talk OTAs



New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
OTA Media Availability
Thursday, June 5, 2014

Did Jairus Byrd’s surgery go well and is he still on the training camp timetable?

“Absolutely.”

Can you talk about having Jonathan Goodwin back?

“It’s good to have Jonathan back.  One of the reasons for a June 1 (reunion) was just to possibly protect the compensatory pick if one exists.  He is someone that knows the system.  He is very smart and someone who we are very familiar with.  It is good to see him back.”

Did you think about bringing back Goodwin for months?

“Yes.”

How much institutional knowledge can he still have being away for three years?

“(He has) institutional knowledge, so he is familiar with our program.  He knows our system and he goes to San Francisco and obviously it’s a little different terminology, but he is an extremely smart player.  He still has a home here in Luling. I think he is familiar with our setup.  There are some nuances, I’m sure, offensively that might be a little different, but for the most part I think the transition for a player like him will be fairly rapid, which allowed us to not really weigh the handful of OTAs he’d miss and wait until (after) June 1.”

Is it fair to say that he is an advantage over Tim Lelito for the center position?

“No, that’s not.  Out here we are preparing for training camp, but both of those guys are going to have a good shot at playing for us.  Listen, that is the way it is.  It is normal.  You are never just given a position.  Tim has done a lot of good things and we are excited about his progress and a guy like Jonathan who has played a long time, I think it’ll make both of them better.”

How much better do you think you need to get on the offensive line?

“We’re always looking to improve.  It’s hard to quantify and say (if we need to get) 8% better or 20% better.  We’re looking to improve not just the offensive line but in a lot of areas.  That is part of the process and that is why we are practicing.”

Were you happy with the offensive line last year?

“Listen, you are never happy when you finish the season and you lose a playoff game. I thought there were a lot of things we did very well there and certainly there are some areas we want to improve on.  I was pleased we won (the amount of games we did last year).  I thought we played really well the last stretch of the season.  It is still an area (where we can improve).  I go through each position group and talk about areas that we want to see an improvement.  We are looking to improve as a team to catch the leader.  That’s really the objective.”

Does it feel any different this year than last year?

“Well it is different this time from a year ago just from the standpoint that, I don’t want to say new but, it is nice not to have that question until today.”

What have you seen growth-wise from Ryan Griffin?

“Well I felt in his case he handled a lot of what we were doing rather quickly, but more importantly when the preseason came it transitioned on the field.  You can see his confidence, he is getting through his progressions, he knows what to do very quickly and I think that is just a matter of putting days together of good practices and then getting in the preseason games and doing the same thing.  He has been real consistent and a good sign for us.”

Until Jimmy Graham comes back, how important and valuable is Ben Watson’s veteran presence important?

“All those guys (Watson, Josh Hill and Jimmy Graham) contributed so much last year.  We play them in different personnel groupings.  They are important ingredients to what we do offensively.  They have been carrying a lot of the reps.  We have some younger guys this time of the year.  I think it is real important to be careful to not all of a sudden come off a practice like today and see that Ben Watson had 38 team snaps.  He doesn’t need that many. During this time of the year we are trying to make sure guys are all receiving opportunities to get familiar with the system, but both Ben and Josh (Hill) know what we are doing and are going to be important to us this upcoming fall.”

What do you think about Brandon Coleman?

“I don’t see it being the hands as much as it just being all the nuances of playing receiver, transition, route technique.  There is a lot that comes on the play of a receiver just from a standpoint of the whole scheme of what you are doing and then the technique on how you are doing it, the corners, the backend is so much better than what he is used to seeing.  So far he has picked things up.  He is a big target.  We have a couple of big guys that are young that we are anxious to see them progress.”

How do you view Nick Toon going into his third year?

“I’ll be honest with you, last training camp (was) one of the opportunities that he and Kenny (Stills) had because we were resting Lance (Moore) and Marques (Colston) and they received a lot of snaps in the preseason with the first team offense and I think it gave us the chance as coaches to see not just Kenny but to see Nick as well.  They made a lot of big plays.  I think that what was challenging last year was just our numbers and trying to work through the plays and the active list.  I think so far he is someone that really has practiced well out here.  I’m sure he sees himself as a guy that is going to be not just in the mix to play receiver but in the mix to get plays for him.  He is doing real well.  He had a good practice today.”

With the Pelicans being across the street, do you talk to Monty Williams at all about what you do and how you do things? It must be unique that you can have lunch with a head coach in another professional sport and he can have lunch with you.

“We don’t take that for granted. A lot of times from a scheduling standpoint, it might be months that you don’t see someone from the other side of the parking lot. Monty is someone that we’ve always stayed in touch via text or here at the facility. He’s doing a great job. We’ll have discussions at times just about coaching and some of the challenges (in both sports) and (in) building programs. Both he and Del (Demps), those guys have been great to work with and a lot of fun to work with. It just depends on the schedule (of both teams), and whether all of the sudden you have that interaction. A lot of times it’s just kind of happenchance.”

What did you like about Erik Lorig?

“We saw Tampa last year. It was just a sequence of games. When we were playing our next opponent, we’ll have four or five games in the cut-ups. It just seemed like we were following Tampa either a week later or two to three weeks later. Nonetheless, they were in the cut-ups (that we watched). The last half of the season, they ran the ball as well as anyone in the NFL. I don’t know statistically what their numbers were, but we felt like every time we put their offensive tape on, we saw a quarterback that was getting better, an offensive line, and a fullback. We really didn’t know much about him. We did our offseason homework like we would in free agency, and then you start going back and seeing that he was an outside linebacker converted to fullback. He’s a little bigger in stature, so when you watch him play he’s very physical. I don’t want to say there was a wish list, but it was (a thought that) let’s pay attention to and let’s see if we can get him on a visit. He and I share the same agent, which was just coincidence. It was interesting how the process worked out, and we are real pleased with how he’s progressed. He’s big, he’s physical, he can catch the football. He’s an interesting player, and when you look at his size and some of the production he had last year, and he’s young.”

How important is it to get off to a good start in the beginning of the season?

“I think every one of us sees the statistics of teams that start two, three, four-and-0 versus the other way around, and the percentages obviously tilt, marrying each other. I think it goes a long way. I will say this: in 2006, it was critical because we were a decent team, but all of the sudden playing with some confidence after a couple of road wins and winning at home. Obviously in 2009 we carried that momentum for a large part of the season. Each year is different. In 2011 we lost week one in a tough loss, and I think you try to come away from it and say, ‘Hey, we just played a good football team.’ I think it was the Super Bowl Champion (Packers) the year before. You lay out the schedule – we’re not even at the point where we discuss the schedule yet, we will in training camp – and you focus on your first challenge. Going on the road versus Atlanta is a big challenge. You really try to focus in on the next game. A fast start, though, it something that you’re looking for. Each week, you’re trying – especially in the beginning of the season – to improve and you’re in a race to improve against the other teams.”

There has been a lot of talk about the NFL in England and having a permanent franchise. What do you think about all of that?

“I really haven’t paid much attention to it. We were there against San Diego (Chargers) in 2008. I know that there is a passionate fan base not only in England, but in Europe…just as there is South of our border. It’s a credit to our league that it’s not just our country. The logistics, I think, are the biggest issue.”

Brandin Cooks won’t be able to join the team until the last week of OTAs, the week after next, because he’s on a quarter system at Oregon State (and has to wait until the completion of their academic year). Would you like to see that rule change?

“It’s challenging for the players who are at those schools who happen to be on the quarters schedule. I think that’s just a matter of the colleges and the powers that be in our league. I’m not familiar with the history of it, so it would be silly for me to have a strong opinion on it. It’s happened before with the players we’ve had, and I’m sure it’s happened to other teams.”

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