The New Orleans Saints hit the field on Monday, with head coach Sean Payton calling it a "pretty good, physical practice."
Payton talked about the safety position after practice, including the addition of Roman Harper, a healthy Jairus Bird and veteran Kenny Vaccaro.
Talk about how Roman Harper is doing at this point. Not just the leadership part, but also the actual on-the-field (performance):
I think he is doing well. First off, he is in shape. One of his great strengths is his football intelligence. That allows you a step on a route. That allows you the ability to key in and diagnose a play, run or pass, and have a half-step on a play. I think that over the years has served him well. We’ve watched his reps, but I think he’s doing well. I think he’s moving around well.
Is his skill set unique, especially in pass defense where you can do some things with him that you might not be able to do with other guys?
Yes. He’s obviously a safety, and closer to the ball, for him’s a good spot—the low zones. He of course, is going to have to play some of the high zone positions, but again, his ability to study and see formations and understand what the tendencies are—those are all things that have allowed him to play going into year 11. That’s hard to do at that position.
In your eyes, what have you seen from (Kenny) Vaccaro and (Jairus) Byrd working together as a tandem, they have not had a lot of work together the last few years because of injury. Why have they been able to mesh so easily?
I’ve been encouraged with Jairus. I can’t point to a day or week, but this period of time from the spring to the start of training camp, he has really gotten himself ready. There has been a lot of work on that knee. He is a smart player. I think those two guys both communicate and understand the defense. It’s been a quick transition, yet nonetheless, even when Jairus wasn’t receiving reps in the spring, you would see him behind the defense or mirroring—trying to mentally receiving the same reps. But he is an experienced pro. He has played a while in this league. I think having him back out there and healthy is only going to help us.
The Saints did make a roster move on Monday, signing offensive lineman Tony Hills and waiving injured offensive tackle Ryker Matthews.
The team will take the day off on Tuesday.
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