(WVUE) - The New Orleans Saints' offseason mission to overhaul the roster into a winning team will be put to the test Thursday night as the preseason begins in Cleveland.
Sean Payton spoke exclusively to FOX 8's Sean Fazende earlier this week about his memories of the past 10 preseasons he's coached.
"There's openers I can look back on and feel like I was surprised, good or bad. There's times you open the preseason and it's kind of what you expected. It's hard to predict," Payton said.
League rules changed this season to allow clubs to keep 90 players on their roster for the duration of the preseason, as opposed to the previous cut down with a game left.
Even still, coaches value every chance they get to evaluate the roster.
"The number one thing we're trying to do is evaluate the player so you've got to be smart and make sure that what you're giving them in this first game are things that they know and understand well so that we can evaluate them going full speed," Payton said. "It's hard to evaluate the player if he struggles with assignments if he doesn't know the call.
"Then, if the play starts, the evaluation is probably skewed a little bit," Payton said. "That being said, there is the evaluation of making sure the player knows what to do, what's been corrected. Has he applied what's being taught to him? So all of that information you get in the first week and really, the better part of the preseason."
Payton's full interview with Sean Fazende can be seen on the Saints Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night, which is broadcasting throughout Raycom's television networks in the region.