Saints quotebook: Sean Payton (July 29, 2018)

The courtship of the team's return specialists

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Sunday, July 29, 2018

After looking at the film, did anybody jump out at you yesterday?

“There were moments, plays. The big thing right now is just the consistency. We have too many snaps on the ground defensively. We'll have three or four good plays and then all of sudden there's a big play that we have to correct. That was a problem a year ago. Our return game is kind of like The Bachelor right now. We have about 12 contestants all with roses. We don't know who our returner is going to be. And if she doesn’t like any of them we will bring in more.”

Will you actually hand out roses?

“They have to do anything they can to become the returner. It is wide open. Limousine, whatever. Paris.”

Does Alvin (Kamara) have a chance to become the returner?

“Absolutely, but he has to show it. We are going to play our best player, punt and kick return. It's a two-part series.”

Will the kickoff rules change things?

“It's going to change things. I think there there's a little bit of unknown with it too, honestly for each team because the body types have changed and will change on that. The spacing certainly has changed with the restrictions and the changes.”

Does that make you feel more comfortable putting Alvin back there or someone that you expect to have a big role on offense?

“Yes, I do think there'll be more returns this year than in years past. I think that'll be a fluid thing.”

When you came into this season thinking about someone who could help you third down, from a body type standpoint or just player prototype standpoint who stood out to you in your mind that you thought could help you this season?

“From last year, when you put your third down plan together every Wednesday night, you're looking at certain traits. Someone who has good hands in traffic, whether it's Mike (Thomas), the backs, or the tight ends depending on what team you're playing and the kind of coverage you're getting. Generally, those are the same players that are helping you on the early downs. A guy like Shane Vereen, who has been a really good running back out of the backfield. Then we have some younger receivers that are competing in that area, a lot of it based on the kind of coverage you're going to get. Every team's getting the man-to-man, man-pressure, whole man-to-man. Guys that can separate and guys they can get open in traffic.”

When you’re evaluating the backup quarterbacks, how do you take into consideration times when the offensive line is struggling to protect them?

“We do. That's one of the challenges even into the preseason. At times, we'll try to get those guys work with the ones. We've done that before to create a little bit more opportunity for them. That's always been a challenge even in practice when we'll watch the video, we'll take that into account.”

Is there a balance between developing their skills and what they do well versus being able to fill in for Drew (Brees)?

“Yes. When that player becomes the starter, you begin to put your system around the strengths and things that he that he does well. In the meantime, even going into a preseason game though, there's a there's a playlist that we'll have. We know going into this game we're going to feature a handful of these plays with Drew (Brees), but that might tweak a little bit with the next quarterback or the next one. I think we always try to do that.”

What has stood out about (Tom) Savage so far?

He stands in the pocket and he's got a good arm. He made a couple good throws today. He was sick the other day, but he's feeling better. I thought overall before looking at the tape, there were some good plays.”

A few veterans got some rest today?

“Yes, and we’ll have a list of guys periodically on the third or fourth day and we'll just give them treatment.”

You’ve mentioned that nickel is the vision for Arthur Maulet, but it seems like you guys have been working him all over the place?

“He’s going to play nickel, and yet the first two days of camp here were in a lot of traditional pro sets. He's going to rep corner as well. The outside spot, but much like Patrick (Robinson), it's not like they're not going to practice (nickel) until we have nickel offense in. He's someone that we think has equal traits.”

Has Trey Edmunds’ role changed at all?

“No. He's going to be heavily involved in the kicking game. He'll be competing for those touches, especially in the first four games of the season.”

We saw him lineup at fullback a little bit?

“Part of that’s just in camp us carrying one true fullback and trying to give him more reps.”

We saw the bow hunting fishing trip this offseason. Could you speak to what that motto (Bow Up) signifies to your team and how much players maybe gravitate towards a new motto every year?

“It was more of a team building activity where we split them up in the 12, 15 groups. There was competition, obviously to possibly get out of the conditioning test. With regards to Bow Up that's just the term we used to get ready for this year. It was a unique experience obviously. Probably 95, 99 percent of the team (had) never done (it), including me. That was really it.”

How difficult was it?

“Harder than you thought.”

Did you ever settle the dispute over who won?

“We did. Craig Robertson’s team won. There was a mystery redfish that showed up on my team and that was the one that was in dispute.”

Josh LeRibeus looked to be in today for Andrus Peat at center. Is he the frontrunner for the Senio Kelemete role?

“There's no frontrunner. He's a candidate.”

The opening indoor practice, do you guys plan on doing that more?

“It just makes sense because there's a period of walkthroughs where you're really dealing with the mental element. Getting that done, stretching, and then coming out here (for) practice I thought made sense with the temperatures the way they are.”

Do you guys have sets where you have three safeties on the field at the same time?

“Absolutely. Depending on the down, there'll be a place for a buffalo package. We have played that the last really two or three years. You're seeing teams play that. You are getting a different type of player on the field with the hopes he can handle some of the three-receiver sets.”

A guy like Tre’quan Smith, you flashes every day. How much do you have to see it as a coach to feel really comfortable?

It’s a process. He's healthy now he's moving around well, and this is where you begin to see the growth. With young receivers, sometimes it comes early (and) sometimes it takes a while. Mentally, he's picked things up pretty quick and this will be an important camp for him.”

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