Metairie, La. - The Saints typically use Mondays during the regular season to review their most recent game but since the team doesn't have anything to review in week one, they looked forward to Atlanta.
The following are coach Sean Payton's comments to the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "These players were signed on Sunday to the practice squad, QB Ryan Griffin, WR Saalim Hakim, TE Michael Higgins, FB Austin Johnson, T Marcel Jones, and CB Jumal Rolle. Then, we added two more players, LB Rufus Johnson and T Senio Kelemete, to the practice squad, so that brings us to eight. Today's practice was focused on Atlanta. It was a bonus day that you usually receive at the start of the season or when you play on Monday nights. Players will be off tomorrow and our normal week will start on Wednesday."
Is there a reason Rufus Johnson took an extra day to sign?
"No, just the logistics of him to sign the contract."
Is it unusual to have 12 guys on your team that haven't played an NFL game yet?
"I don't think we pay much attention to that really. We look closely at how they are going to fit into the (game) plan, how they are going to play in the kicking game and the progress they have made in their position group. That's not something that we really look closely at."
You don't normally have 10 rookies on an opening day roster, did that kind of surprise you?
"That would be high. I would say we have an unusually (high) handful of undrafted free agents right now and that's encouraging."
How difficult were some of those last minute cuts?
"I think they are always difficult because you are wanting to make sure you are getting the right 53 (players on your roster). You are wanting to make sure you are making the best decision possible and any time that you have had players that you invested a lot of time in and they have invested a lot of hard work, it's hard for that to be final and to make that decision. It's just as hard the day you are having to do it with the players."
How do you feel about having Martez Wilson and Junior Galette getting back on the field after their injuries?
"We will give you updates on Wednesday. I feel our guys, healthwise, are doing real well. We will keep you posted each day."
Are three outside linebackers on a roster typical for a 3-4 defense?
"In a 3-4 defense it would be less than normal. We will be smart about what we are doing. Certainly (at the) the bottom of this roster there will be movement like there is with every team starting off the season."
Do you think your success with undrafted free agents during your tenure has anything to do with the number you have this year?
"I don't think so. I think at times it has helped us sign a player, specifically like a guy like Glenn Foster who had other teams interested. One of the selling points is we are going to play the best players and a guy who is a free agent out of college will have the same opportunities as the draft picks, so I think in that regard, maybe."
Has David Hawthorne shown you that he is ready to play?
"He is doing well. He had a good training camp and will be a factor for us defensively, yes."
Can you talk about how things have changed now going into the week of the game?
"You have less people that you are working with. Your practice periods are now spent offense and defense working against carded plays rather than against each other. We will have a competitive period each practice where we work first offense versus first defense, but we are into carding plays or carding defenses and working against the looks we anticipate seeing in the games."
What kind of impression has Parys Haralson made so far?
"He's real solid. He is a quick study. He's has picked up what we are doing and he is someone that you can tell he is a veteran who has played real good football. His impressions have been real strong."
How much do you look forward to the rivalry with the Atlanta Falcons in week one?
"It's an important game because it's the first game. It is the one in front of us. Obviously it is a division opponent, we kind of look at it that way (as) a team in your division, a team that played really well last year and had a fantastic season. It's a tough challenge right to start so we are going to have to have a good work week and play really well."
Is it hard keeping your emotions in check knowing the history and it will be your first game back?
"We play in a lot of games with a lot of hoopla around it, whether it's Sunday nights, Monday nights, or post season games, it's still about protecting the football. It's still about blocking and tackling. It's about all the things that we have control over, but those other things, we will try to eliminate as best as we can."
Do you think it's a possibility for Jonathan Vilma to play in the season opener?