Metairie, La. - Monday's Saints practice was marred by Martez Wilson's elbow injury and Saalim Hakim's severe cramps due to the heat but, overall, the team is showing great progress.
The following is head coach Sean Payton's session with the media after the team's fourth practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "On an injury note. Martez Wilson, we took in with an elbow. We will see where he is at. I thought today was a little bit better from an overall tempo standpoint on both sides of the ball."
What is the challenge of Martez going down with already being down one outside linebacker after Victor Butler got injured prior to training camp?
"Right now, we will see where he is at. We said the next guy would be up. I don't anticipate it being a real significant injury."
What happened there, with Saalim Hakim?
"Yeah, he is fine. Cramps."
Whether it is the next guy up or whatever, can you touch a little bit on Chase Thomas and Eric Martin at linebacker and how they have been able to move up a little bit?
"They are getting their reps. We are going (with) three groups right now, so a lot of these guys are receiving plenty of work. At some point, two to three weeks from now, we can begin to reduce those snaps, but they are all getting plenty of reps. Today's installation was our second installation which was really what we had done two days ago. There is a lot of repetition here that they are getting familiar with (on) both the defense and offense and what we are asking them to do in the kicking game. But tomorrow will be onto a new installation. So, the first two non-padded practices that we had were the same from a scheme standpoint as the last two padded practices. Tomorrow will be different."
Looking at the depth at wide receiver and the competition, what is your take so far on Preston Parker, considering he had 40 receptions in 2011?
"Number one, I think it is going to be important to see how those guys (competitors at wideout) contribute in the kicking game. It's early, and there are a lot of guys after those first couple (who) will get more work because of Marques (Colston) being out. We are resting him, so I think the kicking game is going to be important for those guys, to be the fourth or fifth receiver. I think they understand that, so they are going to get plenty of snaps as we head into the preseason. This upcoming Saturday, we will have a scrimmage. Those guys will all get a lot of work. He is certainly a guy that is comfortable. You can see that."
What kind of progress do you want to see out of him?
"He is one of those players that I talked about two days ago. You want to make sure that he can still do it. You know he has been a valuable contributor for us in the kicking game, and so it is just showing us that (while) it doesn't have to happen every day, you still have to still see it."
How is John Jenkins adjusting to life in the NFL so far?
"I think he is doing well. He has got his weight down. He still has a little bit of ways to go, but I think he has handled it well. He is pretty sudden and explosive. Those guys have a lot that they are learning, but he is specifically getting most of his snaps at the nose, and his adjustment, so far, has been good. We will see as we keep going."
How has Benjamin Watson gotten back up to speed?
"I told him when we started to make sure that he was smart and that he didn't have a pull because he missed the spring, but he is a smart player with a lot of experience. He is picking things up from a mental standpoint. Now, he is just getting his legs, to get himself in football shape."
These last couple of years, we have heard a lot about the fullback position falling to the wayside. What is your philosophy on it?
"I don't know. My point is that I would disagree with those who have said its going to the wayside. The two teams who played in the Super Bowl last year had established fullbacks. We believe in having a fullback. Now, there are snaps where they are not on the field, but for us, it is much like one of your inside linebackers. You may not play them every down, but they are going to be an integral part of what you do. And so Jed (Collins) has done a real good job there, and he has competition, but we think it is important to run the football within the framework of our two-back offense. Again, that doesn't mean every play, there is so much situational substitution football going on that would include that decision."
How much does Benjamin Watson's previous credentials catching the football, really affect him in the passing game and help bring another dynamic?
"Well, he is someone that on film, we felt did a lot of things well. A lot of times you get a tight end and you say, 'Well his strength is more in the passing game, and he is limited in the running game.' I think in Ben's case, I know he is a good locker room guy, and he did a good job in the protections in the running game as well as the passing game. He gives you versatility that way."
I know you have been asked about Charles Brown a lot, but how have you enjoyed or what have you thought of his attitude and approach through some frustrations early on in his career?
"I think it has been good. I think he understands the opportunity and the challenge, but I think he has put the time in, and he has worked hard to prepare himself for this. I think as time goes on, we will have a chance to see it."
What do you say about the competition at the backup quarterback spot right now?
"Well you have two veteran players who started in this league in Luke (McCown) and Seneca (Wallace) and, obviously, the young player Ryan (Griffin) from Tulane, so that gives us some flexibility, but I think those guys are handling what we are giving them pretty well. Luke has been here for a prior training camp before going to Atlanta, and Seneca is really completing his first offseason and now into training camp. All three of those guys are doing well."
Does Seneca still have it?
"Yes, I think (so) watching him. I think one of the things he can do is hard to judge out here, but when you get in a game and plays come down, he can escape and make some plays with his feet. We will get a chance to see that in the preseason."
Is he the kind of guy that doesn't need a lot of reps and that kind of makes him a luxury in that regard?