Sean Payton: We just finished getting these guys a good run out on the field here at the hotel and just trying to get through this first day of jetlag. We have some guys that are nicked up; I’ll have a more extensive injury report Wednesday when I have all the information in from Scottie (Patton). Obviously we didn’t travel with Reggie Bush. He went to Birmingham and I’ll have an update on him here shortly. Outside of that, everyone else came. There was one roster change: we signed punter Ben Graham and we waived Steve Weatherford.
It was a tough game for us yesterday. I said afterwards that we struggled in a lot of areas. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked. The focus now is going to have to be on this week here and getting ready to play a good San Diego Chargers team.
How is Ben Graham getting here? Was he on the team plane?
Sean Payton:He wasn’t on our plane, but he’s here now. He flew separately. One of the challenges of playing here during a normal work week – which this is – is any type of roster move. Any type of transaction involves the potential player flying in with a passport. Things that you would normally do at home maybe on a Tuesday or a Wednesday at the spur of the moment becomes a little more planned here. I just felt it was the right thing to do rather than fly Steve over here and then turn around and send him back. Ben was able to come on a flight separate from the team.
How does the loss of Reggie change the offense, if at all?
Sean Payton: I think it does, I think it changes. He has been a big part of we have been able to do offensively and it’s an injury that we have to deal with. Hopefully on a short-term basis rather than a long-term basis and it sounds like that’s the case. From a timing standpoint, it falls with this game and then a bye weekend, so there is a little bit of time there for him as it pertains to his recovery. We’ll have to make some adjustments offensively and some other guys are going to have to step up and play along with Deuce, be it Aaron Stecker or Pierre Thomas. It’s a lot like with some other of these guys getting hurt. But he’s a dynamic player. It’s disappointing. I’m sure he’s as disappointed as anyone that he’s not here.
How is Jeremy Shockey? Do you expect him to play this weekend?
Sean Payton: Yes. I’m sure he has some soreness. Last night on the plane it started to feel better. Both with he and Marques – and one of the things that I mentioned last week is that I have to be mindful that they’re just now getting back into it and you just can’t take for granted that they’ll come back and play at 100%. I think that right now he’s on course. He’s following all of the protocol with his doctor and our trainers and we just have to monitor how much and I have to do a good job of monitoring how much and making sure that there aren’t any setbacks. I’m anxious to see how he feels today, but last night I know he was sore after the game and certainly frustrated, but we just have to make sure that we’re not taking any negative steps backwards.
Is there anything that you’ve said to him because he was frustrated and said that the injury was mismanaged?
Sean Payton: There’s a frustration for all of us in that during training camp there was a timeframe where it went from groin to hernia. That’s not uncommon in regards to the diagnosis. Fortunately for us, we now know exactly what it is. He saw a specialist in Philadelphia and he did a great job with the surgery. I think it’s frustrating though because we’re talking about a player who is used to excelling at a certain level and I’ve seen that and certainly he knows what that level is. We discussed this a little bit last night even on the flight of how difficult it is when you expect to play at a certain level and this injury is keeping him from being 100%. But I do think he’s moving forward; I do think he’s getting better. We just have to be careful. I have to do a good job of monitoring how many snaps during the week at practice and how many snaps a week during the games and progressively get him better and better. But he’s an emotional guy and that’s one of the things I like about him. I like the fact that it’s so important to him. Coming off the field yesterday, there wasn’t anyone that was as disappointed as he was. Certainly all of us were frustrated in that loss, but like I said yesterday we’ll have to lick our wounds here in a short period of time and get ready to have a good week of practice.
How will do deal with all of the extra attention this week in London? Will it be a distraction?
Sean Payton: I don’t know. I like our location here. Our people have been great. The set-up – we talked a little bit about Indianapolis and how we had that week away – and the people have been very accommodating. The set-up here has been great. You kind of have to kind of want to find it first off, it’s out there in the country, and that’s a good thing. We were just out on one field here on the property and it’s in great shape. I could see us possibly even practicing out here. I like it. I like the set-up and I think our people have done a great job. So much goes into this from a logistics standpoint of moving everything – computers, phones, video – there are a lot of challenges that are involved. But the people here have been very accommodating and very welcoming.
With both teams having gone on the road and losing yesterday they are both now 3-4. Does that make this a must-win game for both teams?
Sean Payton: I think it is an important game for both teams. There are nine games left so there’s a lot left to the season, but I wouldn’t disagree in that both teams certainly have higher expectations than where they’re at right now. I know we do and I’m sure San Diego feels the same way. So it’s a very important game for both teams. We follow this game with a bye and to get to .500 at the break before we start the second half of the season I think would be the number one priority right now. It makes for just that much more importance for the game.
Was coming to London an idea that they had to sell to you or were you all for it from the beginning?
Sean Payton: That’s a good question. I think the challenge is when you come to London and it’s your home game. When you do that, technically you only play seven home games. When it’s an away game, you were going to be on the road anyway and it just ends up being a longer trip for you. But when it’s a home game, it involves one game where you’re not in the city of New Orleans and it’s one game where your fans by and large don’t have a chance to see you. There are some positives and some negatives with that. For the local people in New Orleans, the negatives are the loss of a game, but it’s a chance for our organization to put a good foot forward in a global way. It probably became better and better. At the beginning, I was very skeptical as a coach that we were going to have seven home games and technically nine games on the road. I’d be lying if I said that I was fired up, but I think it has worked out very well. I think our people have done a great job in putting this trip together. We’re all excited; I know the players are excited. All of us are honored to represent the league and come over here and play and we look forward to it.
Could you talk about your time playing over here?
Sean Payton: It was about 20 years ago, when I was right out of college. There was a league over here of American football but primarily of British players. Each team I think was allowed four players and I was up in Leicester, which is in the Midlands, and we lived here for six months and spent a whole spring and summer of 1987 playing for the Leicester Panthers. I’m not sure if they even play anymore, but we had some great times – certainly right out of college having the opportunity to come overseas and enjoy a different area of the world was a good experience for me. I met a lot of great people and made a lot of good friendships. My only concern right now is the ticket request list.
Was the decision to make the move with Steve Weatherford something that was a long time coming?
Sean Payton: It’s always difficult to cut a player that you’ve had for a while and to release a player like Steve. He came here as a rookie in ’06 with us, but I just think that in the end it became a challenge with consistency. We just felt like it hadn’t gotten any better and it had actually dropped off. Hopefully he’s able to land somewhere, but it was something that we did discuss prior to the game. From a timing standpoint, that’s always the biggest challenge. Again, we felt like we didn’t have the consistency that we wanted yesterday, but it wasn’t just one game. The evaluation was more than just one game.
How will the weather here affect your preparations?
Sean Payton: I think in a good way. Some of the issues that we have to deal with at home are the heat and humidity. A lot of times we’ll go indoors because of the temperature. But outside the little bit of rain here, there isn’t any thunder or lightning so you can practice in this. The one thing I remember from living here 20 years ago was that if you’re always waiting for a clear day to golf or go shopping, you’re going to be waiting a while. You just learn to function in it and that’s it. I think we’ll handle it pretty well. I like the climate and I think our players will as well.