Here are Payton's comments after Monday's practice:
Can you follow up on the reason for that decision?
“It was a decision we made to go with the younger players and those are always tough decisions. In Jon’s defense, he battled through an injury last season. He probably played his best football the year before that. It was a decision we spent a lot of time on.”
Did you want to see how he came back from that injury in the first two weeks of training camp?
“It was something we decided to do, and it wasn’t easy, but after a week here we felt like we needed to get Zach and Charles more work and get them in that position. Again, it’s always the hardest thing about what we do.”
Is that why it was so important to get Zach Strief back?
“No, because that would imply that was the direction we were going when we contacted him. We wanted Zach back because we felt like we had a good young tackle that we drafted. At that time, we wanted to get Zach signed and get Charles healthy but in this short time frame it’s something we decided to do with this organization.”
We saw Jonathan Casillas spend a lot of time with the ones and Scott Shanle with the twos. Is that something to expect for the season?
“We’re going to see those two compete at the Will and we’re going to see a lot of competition at the Sam. You’re going to see different guys with the ones and the twos in a number of spots and that would be one (position), but it won’t be the only position. You’re going to see competition at the Sam, you’re going to see competition at the corner position, and you’re going to see the same thing at right tackle and fullback. We have a fair amount of time to gauge as much information as we can on all these guys.”
Can you talk about how Will Smith has looked?
“I think he’s looked as good as I can recall. I think he played well the other night in the snaps he had. He’s in good shape and he looks to have his legs back underneath him. I’ve been pleased with where he’s at.”
How difficult was it to let Jon Stinchcomb go?
“(Jon) is one of the first players in Mickey Loomis’ first draft class back in 2003. We go back to 2006 in that first training camp, and he was one of the leaders. It was hard. I see that and yet I recognize it was still more difficult for the player. That’s the hard thing about it. He has a ton of respect in this locker room by his teammates and it was similar to sitting down with Deuce McAllister when that time came.”
Was it an option to think about keeping Stinchcomb around?
“We went through a lot of different options. The conclusion we came up with was that we wanted to devote a lot of time to both Zach and Charles.”
Can you talk about Charles Brown in this training camp?
“I think he did well in practice last week. He’s athletic and he’s smart. I’m anxious to watch him and Zach during this process. He’s someone who knows what he’s doing, and he staying healthy is important because he’s had the hamstring issue. We feel like he and Zach are going to fight it out and we’ll evaluate the practice tape and roll those guys through.”
Will Jordan Black be Jermon Bushrod’s backup right now or will he move?
“We’re flexible enough to take the one tackle that’s not taking reps with the ones and he can work with the second group at left tackle. Hopefully, both Zach and Charles can play left tackle and Jordan Black can play right tackle, and we can be flexible.”
Do you approach the game against the Houston Texans any differently than the game against the San Francisco 49ers as far as getting them ready to play? It is the same approach. It has kind of been the same approach for most of our preseason games. Most of the week, we are working on installs and working against each other. The last day and a half, we switch gears to plays that are geared toward the opponent. That would hold true this week.
So the lockout doesn’t change your preparations? I don’t think it changes. I don’t think it changes the way we approach. We have so much that we are working on that the last day, the day before, we will focus on a Texans game-plan.
Can you point out what kept the team from being successful on offense early on? We had the penalty on one. We had a big play to (Robert) Meachem that we weren’t able to convert on and we ended up punting after that. Those were a couple things. On offense, if you take a penalty then your percentages of scoring on a drive decrease dramatically. We’re just trying to stay ahead of the chains and stay on schedule. Those are some of the things that you look at right away.
You talked about pressuring on 18 of the first 22 plays. Over the course of the game, was that number higher? The total snap count, I don’t have. I know, going in, we had talked about this being a good game to work a lot of our pressure packages from the get-go. It just kept coming. It was good work for us. It was good work for our players. There were some things that weren’t perfect. The intensity level, the hustle, and the energy made up for some things that we will clean up. It is a tape that we can put on with the defense and say, here are the things that we did real well and here are the things we can clean up. It was good tape, and it was encouraging.
Was there anything that you didn’t like? I thought the sideline was clean. I thought our organization was clean. I didn’t feel like it was sloppy. I think the one aspect was scoring early on. That is the one thing that you come away from and say, ‘I wish we had more success early while Drew was in there.’ I liked the effort, I liked the energy. I thought we came out and we were physical. I was real pleased with the way we handled the blitz packages defensively and I was real pleased with the kicking game.
by Ed Staton