Saints put in strong practice Monday before day off - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Saints put in strong practice Monday before day off

Source: Sean Fazende Source: Sean Fazende
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Tuesday will mark the Saints' first off-day at training camp since hitting the field Thursday. Sean Payton was disappointed by the team's practicing leading up to off days in 2014 but the first such occasion of 2015 was a success, according to the head coach.

Payton met with the media after Monday's practice and the following is a copy of that session, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:

Opening Statement:

“Brian Dixon came off of PUP and practiced today. He’s doing better. I thought the work this morning was pretty good. These guys will be off tomorrow. Yesterday we felt like we got good work (and) today we felt like we got some good team work.”

Is there a difference in the tempo when players know that there is a day off coming the next day? Can you tell? 

“Well, the notes from a year ago on this practice weren't real good, so it was kind of a focal point for us in the staff meeting last night. These guys handled it well. I thought the work was good. We cut back a little bit and got some extra conditioning in, but I thought by and large (the) periods we ran it was a little more of third down today with that being kind of an installation. I thought overall, I don't know if it was any different noticeably, so that’s a good thing.”

Do you detect a different tone this year from the team? Just the way the guys interact with each other and interact out here. Just the overall feel of this camp.

“Well listen, I hope so. You know it’s early, and were just getting started. We've got a lot of work to do still. The tunnel is pitch black right now. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and yet I think guys have handled what we have given them. The tempo has been good, they are moving around, so I’m encouraged that way, but it’s early.”

When you bring in a Tim Hightower, what are you looking to see?

“He is a player that at one point we graded at an extremely high level. Before fans sat down at that Arizona divisional playoff game to eat their hotdogs, it was 7-0, and he’d scored a touchdown. He’s someone that has been a real good running back and had a setback with an injury and so you know you are always looking to see how that has affected him, has as he recovered. I think that last night was one of those long meetings. We went through the 90 players on the roster, and you know I would say the early signs with him have been good. He’s healthy, he’s pretty instinctive, he’s a smart player, and so that really is the gist of it. You are constantly paying attention to guys like that, that may be available that might be healthy. Kenny Phillips the same way. It was a good addition for us.”

After a couple of days of one on one work in pads, what are your impressions of Andrus Peat?

“He’s doing well. He is young and he is athletic and each rep you just keep giving them to him. I think he is (working hard and) all of a sudden you see it (improvement). Then it’s putting it (all) together and (showing) consistency. He’s in better shape than he was in the spring. We like him, a lot. He is versatile and he is smart, so he is just going to continue to grow, but you can see his feet, his athleticism, and obviously his size.”

So you’ve got Zach Strief, does he take him on the side and talk to him a lot?

“With all those guys, it’s a close room. You know Zach said it the best, no different than (Jon) Stinchcomb was with Zach when he was a young player (and Jon worked with him).”

So if tomorrow’s day off is a time marker, how does the first five days of camp, in what ways do you use that to determine what your schedule will be like with your team coming off the off day? 

“We have a schedule in place. Now obviously we make slight adjustments, we will alter (the schedule) sometimes like today, I just did that on my own. But I think we will come back Wednesday with good work, the officials will be here. You know it will be a base schedule or an ‘A’ schedule. Thursday (will be) the same way. Then Friday we will have a chance to you know change up kind of what we are doing. So more installation though, more situational football, a lot more situational football. Today we got into third down but we still have red zone, two minute, (and) a lot of other categories before we’re ready to scrimmage, and certainly before we’re ready to play our first preseason game.” 

Can you comment on a couple of these guys, looking at Joe Morgan it seems like he is catching the ball well, and then veteran Nick Becton at tackle? 

“Well back with Joe first, I thought he had a good practice this morning. He‘s someone who’s physical too, he is not afraid to block in the running game, (and) he appears to be moving well. Nick Becton is a veteran player that has played, has snaps (and) has experience. The key is just getting him enough reps. There is good competition at that receiver position. Going through it last night as scouts, coaches, everyone talking about each one of these players, there is good competition there and I feel the same way about some of these offensive linemen that are fighting for these roster spots.” 

How does the weather let you get more done and do you feel as good about coming up here this year as you did last year?

“Yes, I said this throughout the offseason, I think you've got to be careful you're not looking to correct things that aren't broken. The weather allows us to go how we go without having an eight minute water break. Maybe twice as many times. So there is times with the heat that at some point they just start going through the motions. I think it’s been perfect, I mean if you were to get up and punch up in what you were looking for weather-wise for practice, and I think it’s been a little warmer this year than a year ago, but you guys are here each day. So the breaks aren't as frequent and they are not as long and the players are recovered, and mentally you still have that focus where they aren't tuning you out. We will get acclimated plenty when we get back to New Orleans. Ten years ago, Phoenix, the first week of the regular season, that was 110 degrees back at Sun Devil Stadium. It’s different now when you look at the schedule and where we are playing. First thing we typically look at is travel. Where are those hot weather games? Or where are those cold weather games potentially? Are you playing Tampa on the road early? Carolina or one of those teams on the road early? I think overall though it has been ideal.”

Stephone Anthony has had a lot of work over the last few days with the ones with that Mike position, just how have you seem him progressing?

“He is doing well. The communication process is the first thing, he is getting the calls in from the sideline, he's got the wireless device. He is handling that well, digesting it. Much like Andrus Peat, you just can’t give him enough reps. There is a physical presence to him when he is out there, and you can feel that. We have been careful about how much we are installing, and I think that has helped him and some of the younger players on defense, still have a lot of work to do but it’s encouraging.” 

Are his football instincts in a way that you can mix things up naturally without you having to crank the stakes up? 

“Yeah, I think (they are) good. He just finished playing for the number one defense in college, so I think (they are) pretty good.”

Every year you guys take a day off during training camp, you said that you guys evaluated the ninety man roster last night, now often do you do that?

“Probably every three or four nights. Scouts are still here for another week or so. So every third or fourth night we’ll have that meeting and that might go until, last night, 11:40 or 11:45, but you’re going through each position group and you’re just talking about the progress of each player. So when you’re at 90, obviously, that can take a while.”

But you can’t see everything on the field?

“Well, it’s more than that. It’s the position coach talking, it might be a scout afterward, it might be a coordinator. Sometimes you might come out of that meeting saying ‘hey, let’s try to get this player more reps with the twos, or  the ones.’ There is a handful of things that take place when you’re in a meeting like that for that long. The days off are kind of set in stone, those earn’t us choosing, those are every seven days.”

Is it important for you as coaches to get away from football as well?

“Not the same way. Guys are getting treatment tomorrow, they’ll be in here three times a day, get a workout in. Coaches will have a chance to maybe to jump on Baltimore a little bit, maybe Arizona, and there is enough stuff we’re doing. The other thing we’ll do is, up until today these practices were planned in Metairie, so tomorrow we’ll meet and we’ll plan out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday scrimmage, and even the following week. We’ll plan out the next seven or eight days as far as overall schedule.”

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