METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - The Saints are in the midst of their third week of Organized Team Activities before a more intensive week of practice during minicamp. Despite the 2015 season still three months out, Coach Sean Payton is stressing a sense of urgency among his players.
The following is a copy of his session with the media after Wednesday's practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints Media Relations department:
Opening Statement: "We are basically in our last week of OTAs before minicamp next week. The schedule on the field is very similar when we move on to that minicamp phase. Today we had an emphasis on some of the two minute situations."
Is Junior Galette being held out for an injury?
"Yes, right now he is working through and we're waiting on and he is waiting on a final opinion. He has a pec injury and we just want to make sure we receive the right opinions on the direction we are going to go (with it). I will leave it at that."
Do you feel better about depth at outside linebacker if Junior Galette can't go?
"He is at one of the outside positions obviously. We have a handful of guys that are lining up at either Sam or Jack and yet there are some other positions where we feel like guys are receiving more reps because a player is nicked up a head of him or just not able to get the snaps. I think obviously coming after the draft you see more numbers there."
Can you talk about Delvin Breaux's progress?
"He is doing well. He has picked things up, (including) the mental element of it. He has handled (it) pretty well. He's in real good shape, you can see that now. We're just continuing to work on the fundamentals but he's handled things, the installation, all of that really well. That is encouraging. He made some plays today."
Is it that big of a transition going from the Canadian Football League to the NFL?
"It just depends on the player, some guys can pick things up fairly quickly, (and) other guys need more time. From a football standpoint, there a handful of things that are different, the motions are much different than what we see and yet they're still playing a fair amount of the same coverages we're playing."
Have you seen a jump from Brandin Cooks?
"He's in his second year, (and has) a lot more knowledge of what we are doing and so that allows a player to play a little faster. He's healthy and he's doing well. He has progressed well."
How strong was he coming on when he got injured last year?
"I think he is someone that is a quick learner. He was able to pick things up fairly quickly for a rookie and I think right now he is in good shape and obviously running around well. For him it is year two of a system so it is a little easier with the learning curve."
Is Andrus Peat done with school and here for good?
"Yes, he got in yesterday. He'll be out here for the remainder (of the offseason). He graduated I think on Monday."
How much sense of urgency do you want to see out of these guys?
"Yes (you want that), but ultimately you have to practice with a purpose. When you get into those situations it's something that when we've been good here as a team, we've been pretty good in the two minute and the fourth quarter and when we have struggled we have not been as good. Each year you look at about five, six, seven games that come down to that final drive so you do have to have that sense of urgency and guys are competing. That is something that is important."
Can you talk about the fans coming out next week and how the players feed off them?
"For us, it's great. We have a great fan base and they take a huge interest in our team. Always in the spring it is their first chance to get their exposure to the new players, both the rookies and the veteran players that weren't on last year's roster. So that is always a plus for our fans."
Is there a reason why Ryan Griffin was absent today?
"No, again, he's excused. I talked to him. We have a handful of guys like that throughout this on any given day. We had a birth with one player who was leaving. That's just part of the deal."
Is Cam Jordan in that same group?
"Cam (Jordan) was just who I was talking about. Yes, he is excused."
Anthony Davis from the 49ers just decided to sit out for a year. Do you envision a lot of players taking a look at themselves knowing the injury risk?
"It is an individual's decision. Each one is probably unique and different. San Francisco's had a couple obviously and it just depends on the player, the position and where he's at. These guys all out here are grown men that are capable of making those decisions. We certainly respect that."
Do you see virtual reality as a way to teach players?
"Yes I do, it was something we met on. There was a convention out east and I spoke at it in regards to certain topics like that. I think as teachers, we are no different than the teachers in the classroom. You are constantly looking to improve your ability to teach a subject and the minute you stop looking then you become stale. That is something that is another area that I am sure will get progressively better and I do see that down the road a way to train, not just the quarterback position but other players as well."
What kind of dimension can C.J. Spiller give this team?
"He's versatile. He has exceptional speed so he's a threat on the perimeter. The trick each time you're obviously getting ready to play each game is trying to find ways to get him the football in those space situations. He can run."
Guys who are fighting for roster spots, what do you want them to know?
"It is pretty simple, it starts with, the question is how do you evaluate a player and it starts with does he know what to do, how well is he doing it, is he trying to do what we are asking and then the last one is how is he doing it?"
Does it kick up a notch next week?
"Next week we are still in helmets. Basically throughout this spring you are in helmets and jerseys and you have to learn how to practice. I would say that the OTA practice is identical to the minicamp practice. It's identical and then in training camp, when you add shoulder pads, it's really difficult for the interior players because they are on the ones who have to work with each other on every play so we have to be smart and yet there's a big portion of what we are doing that hopefully prepares them for training camp so that they are better equipped and understand the scheme better."
How much do you think your personality will change on offense based on the changes you have made in the offseason?
"I was asked this earlier, each year what we've tried to do is take our personnel and apply it the best way we see fit to move the football. The key will be how we utilize this group of players. I do not envision this drastic change if you will. In 2006, there was a certain talent that we had present and we tried to take advantage of the playmakers and progressively through the years we've done that. So I don't see that changing much."
A lot of people talk about running the ball more?
"That's my point though. When we've been good, we've run the ball (effectively). In 2009 we ran the ball really well, in 2006 we ran the ball really well, and in 2013 (we did that). Back to your question, I don't see this whole major shift in a certain direction. We're going to try to move the football and score and some weeks it may be running the ball well and in some weeks it may be throwing the ball more. That's just the truth."
Was it just by chance that Brandin Cooks was targeted a number of times today? Him and Drew (Brees) look like they are in midseason form.
"Depending on the progression, it will take you to that weak side X and you wile be doing so much that there will be a day where yesterday or the day before that there was another receiver. You know how it's been here. It's pretty difficult to chart where one receiver is getting a ton of the targets but back to the earlier question. Brandin knows what we're doing, he's smart and he's been out here and doing well."
With the new options you have at outside linebacker, is this some of the best depth that you have had in the three years under the 3-4 system and what do you think of (Anthony) Spencer and (Hau'oli) Kikaha so far?
"Let's talk about (Anthony) Spencer and (Hau'oli) Kikaha. Obviously one is a veteran player and another one is in his first year. Both (are) new to our program, both learning our defense. With regards to the depth a lot of it is what can they play in your base front, what's their position, and then when you are in your sub packages, what are they playing. I think that we'll receive a better indication when we get into training camp because right now we are still looking at numbers and it's hard to rush the passer right now and get an idea if someone is doing it well or not. I think time will tell."
Going back to (Andrus) Peat coming in this week, you have been through this with Pac-12 guys before, when they get in they are far behind are they, and specifically with him how far behind do you think he is?
"He was able to be at the rookie minicamp which he was, we're able to have communications with the technology now, go through the installs. He's coming from a pro system. I think there will be some catching up to do and yet at the same time, knowing him, he's a pretty sharp guy, he just graduated from Stanford so I'm sure he's had a few more challenges that are a little bit more difficult than that. But these next three or four days will be important for him, next week and then up into training camp so he will make it up and get up to speed."
How much more are you expecting out of Brandin Cooks this year?
"He's part of the package, he's part of what we do. No more than we were last year. As a rookie he was in there so he will certainly get more snaps, when he got hurt it was kind of incomplete so I think you will see a player who is healthy, in his second year, has a lot of knowledge on what we are doing, and looking forward to having a good season."
Can you confirm any of the additions to your scouting department?
"Yes, we've made three. We'll announce those to you guys at some point."
Joseph Morgan has had his ups and downs with you. What do you see out of him physically and with his mental preparation?
"He's doing well, he runs well, certainly fully healthy. He has spent a lot of time, there's a lot of training with him. That room has changed a lot with a new receiver coach, Johnny Morton, Greg Lewis is in that room also, and a handful of new players. He's like the rest of them, he's competing and really just trying to master that position. He's playing Z, we're moving him around a little bit but he's handling that well."
He is one of your older wide receivers now. Not in terms of experience but in terms of being in the locker room. Maybe that will help his maturity and his growing up in the league a little bit?
"I think at some point, all of these players understand how short potentially that time can be playing in this league and certainly the opportunities to be a part of a team. He's done a good job of training here and taking advantage of his opportunity and he will be competing, he's someone that's not afraid to block, so we will see how it goes. He's doing well."
When you look at contract extensions like Junior Galette or Cameron Jordan, what comes about before they actually play out their contract and you opt to reward them big money before the season?
"Well, typically there is a process that's involved. Mickey (Loomis) will spend some time (on it). We'll look at the player individually and there's not an exact science to it. A lot of times there's having a vision for the player and seeing it long-term. Obviously there's a benefit to the player and the club if you are able to get a contract done maybe before the expiration of his first deal. The player secures that financial gain, knowing that there is always that risk of injury and the club is able to work the contract that kind of allows more (cap) space, so with each player it is different."
Marques Colston has been out for two weeks is that one that you can sit on?
"He hasn't been out for two weeks, but I'm not really going to touch on the injuries."