Metairie, La. - Sean Payton took the Saints inside for practice sixteen of training camp hoping to get better tempo from the team.
The following is a copy of the coach's media session, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "The only mention of injuries would be Courtney Roby with the toe (injury) that happened a little bit past the halfway point. We got a lot of third down work down, some empty short yardage in the walk through and of course two minute at the end. I thought it was good to come in here. I thought the practice was lively. Defensively we made a lot of plays today, especially in the third down and obviously in the two minute, so it was good work for us."
You mentioned over the weekend that you aren't pleased with the way that the tempo was going, getting plays in and out and getting the right personnel on the field in certain situations. What in the last couple of days have you done to fix that?
"One of the points of emphasis was the alignment, (getting) in and out of the huddle on both sides quicker, being ready and being in position, (avoiding) where the ball's not getting snapped and we're not set or we have a receiver shuffling his feet at the last second getting set. Really in and out, up and down and then on and off. Those are things that I think that are areas we've got to be better at and we're working on."
You got a lot of guys back today, even in limited capacity. When you get a Pierre Thomas back, is he a guy that needs a lot of reps?
"For a guy like Pierre, it's not that he needs a lot of reps but he needs X amount of reps though from a running back standpoint to be in football shape. His weight's down. Mentally he's very sharp because he knows our system. It's just a matter of getting enough work (with him), so by the time we open up in September his body's comfortable and used to the physicality of the game. There's a few of these guys getting acclimated. Patrick Robinson is one of them and Marques (Colston). They're veteran players especially when you look at Marques and Pierre."
When you look at Martez Wilson and Junior Galette after having them switch positions this season, how important is it to have them back?
"I think when the time is right we will have them out there taking reps. In the meantime we have the young guys out there developing."
What are your impressions the way Rufus Johnson and how he's progressed?
"He's new to everything. He played at a small school. Each day he'll do something and today there were a couple spots where we saw some flash. I think it's easy to say go rush the passer but there's different elements of what he has to do. I think each day he's become better. I'm anxious to see these next two preseason games and see how he does from not only a pass rush standpoint, but also those other elements."
Since you drafted Jahri Evans back in 2006, how much of a progression has he made? How much of a veteran leader is he now?
"He's clearly one of our leaders on offense. He would be more of a quiet type player and leads by example. He's very strong and physical. His weight's down. He's been an anchor for us. When you look at the 2009 team he's the only remaining starter in a short period of time off that (offensive) line. He's been very consistent and is one of the top guards in the game."
How is Patrick Crayton doing?
"He's just pretty new to everything. He received limited reps today. He's someone that picks things up pretty quick, having been with him before. It's a matter of with a year off getting acclimated to what we're doing, the terminology and getting himself in shape."
Has Will Smith continued to make progress as he switches to the outside?
"Absolutely. I think a lot of these players are becoming familiar with what we're doing and then the specifics and the little things, with regards to details in their assignments."
For a big guy, is speed a concern at all?