Head coach Sean Payton met with the media Thursday afternoon and the trade of Akiem Hicks to New England and an injury update on Drew Brees were the two biggest topics of the day.
Did the trade with New England come up rather quickly or is it something that had been in the works for a while?
“I would say fairly quickly. We have been looking for some depth at the tight end position, and at the same time we felt like we had a handful of young defensive linemen. Having had a chance to practice with these guys, I am sure that both teams were familiar with the other player. It was really a matter (that was taken care of) over two and a half days.”
Did the fact that Akiem (Hicks) was not content with his role, and giving him a change of scenery, did that play a factor in the trade?
“No, not at all. I spoke to Akiem yesterday and he has been fantastic as a teammate and as a guy that works. I mean that. We had good visits up in the office, talking about the position, the offseason and the weight that we wanted him at. He has been fantastic to coach. It was really a decision just based on the younger players that we were wanting to get more work with. I think it has a chance to be a real good fit for him, and vice versa. I think that that part of it was really the main focal point or the main reason for the trade. ”
Did the development of any one of those guys in particular make this a little bit easier?
“Well, Bobby Richardson is one player that we feel like is beginning to get good snaps. Obviously, (Tyeler) Davison is a player that is getting more work at the nose (tackle position). You start adding it up, there are two or three of these players, (Kaleb) Eulls and (Ashaad) Mabry, that have all found a niche and a role. There was a little bit of depth there. We were able to get a tight end that we’re familiar with and we understand the strengths and weakness he has, and kind of have a vision for how he will be used.”
How did Drew (Brees) look yesterday and where do things stand now? Has anything changed today?
“He went through all of practice and did well. He threw the ball different than a week ago at this time. After Wednesday, I thought that his progress has been good. We’ll keep evaluating it day-to-day. .”
Is there any way that you can elaborate more on the vision with the tight end (Michael Hoomanawanui)? I actually recall him when he played you guys in 2013, he was pretty productive that day.
“There are certain things that we do with Ben (Watson) and Josh (Hill), but we’ve never had (only) two tight ends on the roster for this point and time, so there is a little uneasiness with that in that if there is a nick during the game and all of a sudden, there is certain personnel groups, and you always have your jumbo packages and I understand that, but I feel like with Michael, there is some versatility that you see with him at the F. He is well-versed in blocking, whether it is pass protection (or run blocking). He is someone that gets comfortable in zone and has an idea of where and how to settle in zone. He has been in a real good passing offense. He is not a guy that you are going to put out there and isolate for the one-on-one matchups necessarily in man, but I do see him being a player that can handle the Y and the F role in our goal line or short yardage sets. I see him being able to handle snaps in some of our heavier sets. I know he is a good teammate. He is respected in the locker room. The vision is very clear.”
How long do you think it takes to incorporate a player like that when you make a trade? Is it as simple as just bringing him in and expecting him to play this week?
“There are two things that factor into that – the position and then the player. When the trade took place, immediately you’re looking for the first flight in. There was a flight that was leaving a half an hour from the time that we were on the phone talking, which was going to be impossible to make. He’ll get in this morning and we’ll have a chance to work with him on a limited basis today. (We’ll do) some film study. I know that he is a quick learner. There is a chance that he’ll be up this weekend. If not, clearly he’ll be ready for next weekend. If you flip that around, maybe by the position, a defensive linemen might have one or two roles and it could be quicker. Generally, within a week.”