Metairie, La. - Sean Payton's team has six practices under their belt in training camp and will close off their next two sessions to the public as they prepare for the annual Black and Gold scrimmage Saturday morning at 8:50 a.m.
The following are coach's thoughts on the team and Wednesday's practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening statement: "First off, a couple of scheduling notes. Tomorrow we will be inside in the morning, so that practice will be closed to the public. Of course open to the media, but we are going to go inside in the morning. In regards to Saturday's Black and Gold scrimmage, our times will be just as normal, 8:50 a.m. start time. We will probably not go past around 11:00 a.m. The gates will open at 8:00 a.m. Saturday's timeslots will be just like we have been on like we have been out here in the morning."
Have you seen improvement from year one to year two with Travaris Cadet?
"For me it's year one. I have seen a season of him playing. He is versatile. I think he is handling some of the base stuff better, so you see him running the ball between tackles a little better. But, he has good ball skills. He is smart and some of the things I have seen him do are encouraging. I think in the return game he is going to improve."
What is your take of the spread option?
"It's here, especially in the NFC when you look at Carolina, San Francisco, and Washington. During this past offseason, even when we went through the coordinator search, we spent time with a handful of coaches just on their thoughts and what they are doing to defense against it. I think that's one of the key things that we do in our league every year. There's an action and then there is some kind of reaction in regards of getting familiar with an offense or a defense. Certainly, that is one element I think everyone is studying a little bit closer and bringing in a college coaches to visit with and those guys that see it more frequently than we do (can help). It is just about coming up with a sound plan that you feel like gives your players a chance to slow that down."
Do you think, when you look at the kind of game Colin Kaepernick had against the Green Bay Packers when he rushes for almost 200 yards that NFL defenses would make adjustments and that would be few and far between that a quarterback would have that kind of game?
"That's one game. I think that a lot of people have looked at, and I know every team in our league has spent more time than normal in regards to some of the nuances when the offense gets their man back from an advantage standpoint. When you take a snap under center and the quarterback is not the ball carrier, there is a little bit of 11 on ten that is taking place and so when he becomes or has that element of the run in that read option, now you have your numbers back. So, it is going to stress the defense, especially some of the tempos that are involved with is, but it is a handful especially when you have your players running it like Colin is."
What is Seneca Wallace's injury?
"Seneca has a groin. We are waiting on (it) right now. We just want to make sure we don't hurry a couple of these guys back."
What about Ryan Griffin?
"I thought he had his best practice to date. I thought he made some really good plays. There are some things he did with protections that are really impressive as well, getting the right guys blocked. He made some big throws. He has picked things up pretty quickly and I thought he played really well."
What has Bill Parcells meant to you?
"I have said this before. It was later in my career as an assistant coach, but it gave me a chance to spend three years with someone who is very talented. It was a lot like going to law school for me. More than just the Xs and Os, he was so good with personnel. He was so good with his ability to get the best out of everyone and not just the players, but the coaches, the trainers. He is very passionate about football and just to have that opportunity, I think anyone that have had some success in our careers, generally we have been fortunate enough to be around some people that have been successful. That certainly has been the case for me. He is well-deserved (to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and I really am excited for him. I think it is a special honor."
Can you talk about your decision to go in shorts today?
"Yeah, there is not really a whole lot of difference between the pads that they might wear on their legs and shorts. But, I thought it was a good changeup here. We are kind of at the middle of the week. Tomorrow we will change it up by going inside and maybe get out of the heat for one practice. I think just paying attention, those are things that are on the itinerary or calendar, but I think those are things you just have to feel for, you feel like the pulse of your team needs a little bit of a change. We focused on third down, a lot of nickel today, so you can still have a good physical practice with that type of dress."
Do you think everyone is adjusted to the new CBA? Do you like it?
"I don't think it really has affected us. There are a couple of things, you aren't in pads twice in the same day, but we never used all of our OTAs. So, the specific rules that are in place are ones that if you went back it really would apply to training camp and two-a-days the way we remember two-a-days. And now we are really on just a single practice schedule."
Is the feistiness out there something you expected?
"It's pretty normal."
What was it about secondary coach Wesley McGriff that you liked when you interviewed him and eventually hired him?
"He was someone who wasn't really on our radar initially. We had a series of interviews that took place here and a number of interviews that took place at the combine. I had received two text messages and they were from a coach down in Miami that I knew, Michael Barrow, and he just kept going on and on about Wesley McGriff. It was almost to get Michael to stop sending me these text messages that I agreed. We flew in Wesley and had to squeeze him in in one of the mornings at the combine and when the interview ended, I think it was that process that's important. Normally someone will jump out or stand out and when he left I think everyone felt very impressed with his knowledge, his experience, his discipline, his communication skills, and his passion for football. There were a lot of things he did well in the process. But he was a last entry."
Jabari Greer said that McGriff was very competitive, did you get that out of him in the interview process?
"He is very confident, but with that being said he knew what he was talking about. I think it is more about someone who really enjoys the game. His passion for the game came through during the process. I think when he finished, anybody that sat in which was the defensive coaches, myself, that anyone who sat in the series of six or seven interviews we had, unanimously had felt that he had done an excellent job. It was kind of interesting how that worked out."
Marques Colton, Curtis Lofton, and Patrick Robinson all sat out. What is their status?
"We are treating them. We will wait and see."
How is Kenny Stills picking this up at this point?
"He is picking it up well. I would say he is a quick study. You would never really know that with test scores. You try to measure intelligence. Often times, intelligence on the football field can be much different than a test score or how a player does with his grade point average. But, I would say he is someone that has picked things up very quick. I am not going to say it comes easy to him, but he is playing a couple of different positions (and) for a rookie, that is impressive. I think from a mental standpoint, he is pretty sharp."
Have you been pleased the way the offensive line has been playing so far?
"It is early on here. We are still in the first week of camp. There is a lot of moving parts when there is a defense that gives you multiple looks. And, I think I am most pleased with their conditioning level. I think they had a good offseason in regards to the weight room program. I think we are stronger there. I think minimizing those opportunities that defenses have to sack the quarterback or hurry the quarterback. Part of that is establishing the running run as well. That can really help them, but I think that we have good competition at several positions there for depth, not only for a starting position. They are handling it well."
You have seen examples of the offensive line picking up blitzes from the defense, right?
"We expect that to happen and I think that the thing we emphasis a lot with the quarterbacks and certainly Drew Brees is someone who would be protection friendly. The ball comes out pretty quick. Getting everyone on the same page that is really Drew and the center in regards to how we are going to block a certain look and actually doing it is two different things. It is assignment and the execution to the assignment."
Can you talk about Baraka Atkins getting some time with the second team today?
"We just keep rotating these guys through. I have said this during the minicamps too, in the staff meeting last night I said I wanted to continue to rotate players. I wouldn't read into it other than I think it is important for us to see sometimes a guy can be in the third group and because of the breakdown somewhere else, you never get to see each player's talent. The same thing happened on defense, so we have tried to rotate a lot of players either with the ones and the twos, the twos and the threes, and then there are a handful of players that are working potentially with all three groups. It might be a substitute defensive back or receiver, but he is picking things up. A lot is being thrown at him too."
Can you talk about Jim Leonhard?