WEST SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVUE) - Friday's practice at the Greenbrier showcased Sean Payton and his staff's creativity when it comes to preparing a team. The techniques on display ranged from Payton rolling a volleyball to simulate kickoffs in the corner of the field to a myriad of cameras as part of a 360-degree video system.
Payton also spoke about a cryotherapy chamber that mimics the traditional cold tub in an in-depth media session after practice. The following is a copy of that conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Can you talk about using the volleyball in kick returns?
"Yes, look the drill itself would be (done with) a football but to try and get a football to do what you want every time and so the volleyball at least gives you a smooth path where he can, but we have done that before with a football and it's crazy how it bounces. But there are times where that ball's basically in the corner of the end zone and you have to make a decision and really you receive a clean look each time, if that makes any sense."
So they were trying to cover it on the line?
"If your foot is out of bounds and you field the ball inbounds it goes to the 40 yard line. If you field the ball and step out of bounds it goes right there. It is just a special situation, we call it straddle. But if any part of your foot is on the white and you field a football on a kickoff it goes right to the 40, it is like it is out of bounds."
Is that a drill that needs to be driven home every year?
"It comes up. In 2003 I was at Dallas and we played at New York on a Monday Night Game. They kicked a field goal to go up three with 11 seconds left in the game. They kicked off. Our returner was a rookie, Zuriel Smith, the ball went to the corner of the right end of the end zone. He kind of waited on it, waited on it, stepped on the sideline, picked it up, out of bounds. The ball went to the 40. We completed a deep out, (Billy) Cundiff hit a field goal to send it to overtime. We won the coin toss, four plays, five plays later, Cundiff hits a game winner. What a game for us in 2003. I don't know if Zuriel knew exactly what he was doing when he did it but I think it is something that you have to emphasize because we see it every year. We see a returner pick up a ball and go right out of bounds. If a ball is within distance to a sideline and you put your foot on the white first you can get it to the 40."
Are there any challenges with getting all four quarterbacks reps?
"Yes, I think any time there are four deep at a position. We will be smart about Drew's (Brees) reps obviously and then it is a little bit easier if you take an emphasis each day where hey one day Luke (McCown) might get more work, Ryan (Griffin) and then Garrett (Grayson). But I think to try and look at every practice where it is balanced is more challenging so there will be days where one of them gets more work than the other when talking about the other three."
What factored in to bringing Luke McCown back another year?
"Well he is smart and he is athletic and obviously we have to see something, we've seen something we like a lot. I think he throws the ball exceptionally well. He knows what we are doing and I think he is real athletic. He has won some football games in this league and I thought last year at training camp, the last offseason, this offseason he has been real good, real consistent."
Was Stephone Anthony playing the Mike and calling the signals today?
"Yes, so (Dannell) Ellerbe sat out this mornings practice. We kicked (David) Hawthorne to the Will and Stephone (Anthony) to the Mike. So he had the communication."
Was that just because it is easier to learn one position?
"He's played Will so he has versatility. There are a couple of things there, a young player learning the Mike and then obviously David (Hawthorne) has played both."
Would that be the biggest hurdle for Stephone Anthony to try and win a starting job because of the signal-calling that goes with it?
"No I think he is pretty good that way, but to receive those reps, I think he should be able to function that way fine. It is a part of the position yeah, just based on being a signal-caller and the middle linebacker but I think he will handle that transition pretty good."
What did you see from Hau'oli Kikaha today?
"We will look at the film. Just from watching practice is one thing but going back and watching the tape and kind of grading it is a little different."
What do you expect from Brandin Cooks this season?
"I think he's explosive and should be a big part of what we do offensively. He's in great shape. He trained hard this offseason. You guys heard me talk about his makeup and I think he will be a vital part of what we do."
How much do you want to scale back Brandin Cooks in special teams?
"I think one thing that is important and we talked about it going into the season, the special teams are snaps in a game that we are going to value, we value just like the offensive (and) defensive snaps. So you are going to see starters play special teams. That mindset of, because you really didn't have a lot of special teams snaps a year ago so certainly there is no carryover to his injury or special teams snaps so if he helps us in the kicking game he will be in there."
Can you talk about Brandon Coleman's development?
"I've said this, both he and Seantavius Jones had a year on the practice squad. Those guys are in real good shape. They were very consistent last year in their work that they gave the defense. They're both big. Brandon is smart. He knows what to do. This confidence kind of comes through reps, comes through getting reps in practice and ultimately it comes through game experience where in a game setting that matters but I thought his offseason has been very good and he is definitely in the hunt. He is performing and he is in shape. He knows what to do. I've made comparisons to Marques (Colston) maybe his rookie year but I think Brandon is doing a real good job. He is stronger now. He is healthy. When we got him he was coming off a rehab from his knee. You can see the strength in his lower body when it comes to the breaks he is making and the cuts he is making."
Can you talk about using a camera behind the linebackers?
"Yes, there is a company in today, I don't know the name, but basically it's a camera that's able to film 360 degree angles so there are certain drills that it is applicable (to) and it does not interfere with anyone. That film will get developed though and essentially if you wanted to take any of the young Mike linebackers you can put that headset on and they can see every one of those formations just like it was at their eye level. They can turn to their right and actually see the outside linebacker. They could turn around and see the safeties. So the camera's essentially filming a 360 degree view. We did it on offense too. I think the first thing that comes to mind is the quarterback, the Mike linebacker, personal protector where they can get additional reps up here, maybe a little bit more significant than just the two dimensional film."
Can you talk about Marques Colston and did you think he would make it 10 years?
"(In) that 2006 class, there are six of them now, (Reggie) Bush, (Roman) Harper, Rob Ninkovich, Jahri (Evans), (Marques) Colston, (Zach) Strief, those guys are all 10 years. We'll be smart with Marques. Look, the reps are the one thing, but making sure he is getting in football shape. I think that we will do a good job with some veteran players, he being one of them. His consistency, the thing that is understated with him is each game you know exactly what you are getting and there is a value in that, a strong value in that."
Does Brandon Coleman's development make it easier to give Marques Colston a break?
"Yeah and yet Brandon (Coleman) is playing some snaps over at the Z. All of those younger guys allow, look, regardless of the younger players, we have to be smart with where Marques is at. To answer that question, I do not know that a development of one player is allowing us to go slower with Marques. So there is a process with him and we will make sure to follow it."
Does upgrading the center position take burden off the guards?
"I don't know if it takes burden off the guards but certainly that group works in concert together and I think when you have someone like Max (Unger) who is real smart and has been in a real good system offensively that has done a real good job in Seattle. I think it is a plus for the line in general."
Are you confident Jahri Evans will be back to full health?
"Well that is why we (re-)signed him."
Have you introduced any new techniques to recover?
"Basically cold post-practice and pre-practice has been good. There's ways to do it. If you have ever just sat in a cold tub it is real beneficial but it can kind of take your breath away. So another technology is a cryotherapy chamber which is new which does it in a shorter period of time. Three minutes in there and that is not necessarily easy but I would say it is easier than sitting in a punch bowl. That would be new, an inflatable pressurized wraps that players are using. The key during camp and even during the season I think is just utilizing the technology to get the blood back in their legs, that can be from transitioning from cold to hot, that can be in the Cryo and that can be in the pressure wraps. All of those things we are trying to take advantage of especially during these training camp practices."
Do you want all of the players to use the Cryotherapy Chamber?
"Absolutely, I was in it this morning. It is cold. You have mittens on, socks so you want to protect your fingers and your toes. You have to be dry and it is kind of a stand up machine that is just around you. Rather than water it is a freezing air mixture that you will be in for three minutes. It is a long three minutes. But none the less coming out of it I know how it feels. I know how these guys feel about it. It is something that we spent some time on in the offseason, Mickey (Loomis) and I. We will have that available, one for our team, one for the Pelicans. All of these things are just to help with recovery."
Do you like what you see from the secondary so far?
"Yes, I think they are in good shape. Look, it is still challenging because you are not in pads. I think that the group of interior seven, the linemen on offense and defense, the linebackers, it is a little bit harder for them because at some point one of those guys have to submit if you will so we are not tackling and putting guys on the ground. I am encouraged by the shape they are in."
How has C.J. Spiller picked up the offense so far?
"Good, I think he is a quick study. He seems to have picked things up real well. We will begin to expand just with our installation just with what we feel like he is going to do. I thought he had a good first practice yesterday. We will look at today's film."
What are some of the things he does best?
"He catches the ball out of the backfield. If we could get him in space, he's dangerous, very explosive so he gives you some versatility that way. I think trying to get him in those types of matchups in space (are important to utilizing him). I think it plays to his strengths."
Can you talk about the competition at fullback?
"There are three of them and each one of them's a little different. I think it's important when you start talking about the fullback, can they play on special teams but we play enough two-back offense that we value that player as a blocker and as a receiver. I think it's challenging when they can only do one. It's a little bit like the tight end position. If they are one- dimensional, it becomes a little bit more difficult to game plan and put them in for certain plays. Both Erik (Lorig) and Austin (Johnson), they are different type players and yet both of them are dedicated, they are working hard. I'm anxious to see those guys compete."
How much of an asset is Luke McCown to Drew Brees?
"I think tremendously. He's an experienced seasoned player. He has a real good work ethic. His temperament is strong. I think it is something that is probably undervalued at times."
What do you think about Hau'oli Kihaha's progress so far?
"Well it's early so it is hard to evaluate linebackers without shoulder pads but I think he's picked things up."
Is this a time of year to pay attention to detail?
"We will typically throughout camp we will have a situational period that deals with something unique. That was today's emphasis. Tomorrow will be something different and then we will carry that throughout the year."
Does technology help you to do situational football better?
"I don't know that it allows us to do situational football better, it allows us to put it on film easier and gather the information quicker."
Is there anything else that you are doing besides the camera and chamber?
"Those are a couple of things that are uniquely different."
Have you used drones?
"No, we have been approached with it. We have plenty of different camera angles. This one is different."
Is it the first time you tried the camera today?
Do envision Brandin Cooks running the ball and lining up as a running back?
"Not necessarily, in some of the rounds and reverses and what not but lining up as a running back I don't see that."
With the new acquisitions this year, have they adjusted to the Greenbrier?
"I think overall pretty well. No one has been late. I think the itinerary once they got here takes all but probably your first day to figure out where you are eating where your meetings are. I think they have a pretty good lay of the land. So far, they have handled that well."