Conference Call: Sean Payton

Sean Payton held a conference call today with the media in regards to the Saints' upcoming game against the Redskins. Here is a transcript:

Opening Statement:

"Let's go through the roster: Hollis Thomas, with his triceps, we placed on injured reserve; we brought Matt Lehr back to the active roster. This morning we waived tight end Billy Miller and signed defensive tackle Alvin McKinley, and then signed David Roach to the practice squad; we had one spot there left from last week. In regards to injuries, Roman Harper – right hamstring – did not practice, Randall Gay – illness, he had the flu – did not practice, Scott Fujita – right knee – did not practice, Marques Colston – left thumb – did not practice, Antwan Lake – left groin – did not practice, Troy Evans – ankle – he was full, Aaron Stecker – hamstring – he was full, Mark Simoneau – back – he was full, Brian Young – knee – he was full, Deuce McAllister – knee – he was full, Mike McKenzie – knee – he was full."

What happened to Marques Colston?

"He has a left thumb that he had a procedure done on yesterday. It's a ligament in his left thumb and basically the surgery was to stabilize the thumb. It's going to take some time. He had that done yesterday. It's going to take him a while, a few weeks. By week's end, he'll be listed as out in this game. The surgery allows him to stabilize it. He had it done before with his right hand back in college, and weighing the options, it was definitely the best option for us and for Marques to get this done now and get it repaired the right way."

Do you think he'll be out about six weeks?

"It's hard to say; four-to-six weeks, we'll see. He's going to be in cast, though, for close to a month."

How much of a blow is that to the offense?

"We have to continue to work these other guys in. We're going to lose players and each team in the league is losing them. That's part of the game and it's the hard part of the game, but we'll have to continue and be able to function. We'll go from there."

Why the decision to put Hollis Thomas on IR now as opposed to when the injury occurred?

"It was really (Antwan) Lake's injury. He has a groin and we were hoping to keep (Hollis) alive, but we're banged up a little bit there and it really came down to having to get another body in here. That was the hard part about it."

Was that a tough conversation with Hollis?

"Yes. With last week's final roster, we talked about the options as a club and for him and we got thin there and now he just has to rehab and get better and we have to move on."

How tough was it to let Billy Miller go?

"He's a guy that has been real productive. Again, we're jiggling with the roster a little bit. That's the hard part, especially this time of the year. He has done a lot for us and has been a valuable player for us. We'll see where it takes us this week, but that's really where we're at."

With Colston out, how confident are you that Robert Meachem is ready to come in and contribute?

"We'll see as we get to the week's end how much that's going to affect him. There are other veteran players that understand what we're doing – David Patten, Lance Moore, Terrance Copper – those guys have all had plenty of reps and it's going to be important for Robert to be ready within the game plan. It will be an opportunity for all those guys to get more playing time. It affects Robert Meachem as well. That's something that we're going to have a chance to see."

Is Jeremy Shockey the kind of player that can do some of the things that Marques does?

"When you look at the touches and you look at plays and down-and-distances and field zones, he's a guy that we need to get the ball to continually because he can make plays for us. You have to pick up the slack. Two years ago we lost Marques for not quite the same length of time and we had Joe Horn out for several weeks. Each year that happens and you just don't know what position it's going to happen at. We have to move on."

Who is directly behind Colston on the depth chart?

"David Patten is the guy that plays the ‘X' behind him. How we'll play in base, we'll see on Sunday."

Reggie Bush said Sunday that the big plays are nice but he's trying to be patient and focus on maximizing play after play. Do you see him getting more patient?

"In the running game we did the other day. I was pleased with some of the gains of four and the gains of six; he did a great job with some of the checkdown routes that turned into bigger plays, but you definitely saw that in the run game. I was pleased. I thought he played very well."

Looking at the film of Tracy Porter, how did he play?

"I thought he handled things well. What you saw live and what we saw, it wasn't perfect. There was some missed tackling that we have to get cleaned up on defense, but overall we played with pretty good effort and we flew around. I thought we did a good job of containing them in what they tried to do on offense and really held them to 13 points."

When you looked at Randall Gay in the offseason, was his versatility one of the things that stood out?

"I think that was one of his strong suits. You knew that he was an intelligent player and that he had played both outside and inside and also at safety for New England. Bill (Belichick) felt like he had a player that was versatile and certainly we feel the same way."

What impressed you about Jonathan Vilma's game after seeing the film?

"I thought he communicated and got the defense in and out. We did a good job with getting the calls right and I thought he tackled well. He's now going 100% and he has asserted himself as a leader in the huddle and did a good job. That was a good start for him."

When your defense is playing as well as they did last week, how does that affect your play-calling?

"It can change. The last series of the game we were somewhat conservative, but we had a little bit of a clock advantage with Tampa having run out of timeouts. I said this before, knowing how we were playing defensively, it was easier to hand the ball off three times and then take the clock down as long as we could and call a timeout before we punted the ball on fourth down and put our defense back on the field. It's going to take all three phases to win games. There is a lot that we have to clean up after this past game, though. We have to do a better job with the penalties. In the kick return game, we had one long return called back because of a penalty. We had a stretch there where between the special teams and the offense, we had six penalties in one quarter. We had some leaky yardage in regards to our tackling. On some running plays there were some bigger gains than we would have liked. So there's a lot we have to work on."

What have you seen so far from Washington's offense?

"They're talented. You start with the receiving corps, the quarterback has a strong arm, they have a veteran offensive line. They have an outstanding running back and one of the best tight ends, a Pro Bowl tight end in our league. When you look at every position, they're going to be a handful. They have great weapons. The quarterback is going to be a handful. As someone who is poised now and has reps under his belt, we have a lot of respect what we're going to see. This group took it to us two years ago at home and it's really talented. On their offense, they have a number of weapons that you have to defend which makes it very difficult."

Do you feel like you're seeing the type of improvement you expected from your defensive line?

"I think we had good pressure in that first week. I felt that we hurried the passer and we got to him. We have a rotation going – we're banged up a little bit inside and that's challenging – but I thought the first week was good. I thought Charles (Grant) and Will (Smith) did a good job outside and Bobby McCray came up with a sack. It was noticeably different."

Is it easier for Grant and Smith to get out there and produce because they have McCray that can come in and replace them?

"It helps keep them rested and that's important in a rotation. That's one of the pluses."

What do you see in Washington's defense?

"They're physical. They're big. They run to the ball well. You've seen them in the New York Giants game and even in the preseason games mixing up the fronts and coverages; they do a good job of that. London Fletcher inside is someone that flows to the ball real well. I think they're very talented on the back end and they're strong up front. It's a good group and it will be a group that challenges us quite a bit. They play in a very good division; a physical division and that's the type of football that they're used to playing. We have our work cut out for us in this game and we have a lot of things that we have to do ourselves just to clean up and get better before we even head out there."

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