Following the first of three joint practice against the Houston Texans, QB
What was it like practicing against the Texans today?
“It’s the third year we have done this. I think both teams get a lot out of it. It’s an opportunity to compete against somebody other than yourself, get some new looks. Their defensive scheme is very different from what our Saints defensive scheme is. Our offense gets a brand new look with a lot of different things as well as our defense against their offense. I think both teams definitely benefit in that regard. You kind of see how you stack up against other teams in the league. It gives you a chance to study their personnel and game plan during the week. That makes it fun.”
Was there any carry-over from the tension from last year?
“No. I think we are all at the stage now in camp where we’re trying to get better every day. Its football, its physical, it’s tough, it’s hot. Obviously, there are times where you’re battling through a play and tensions can rise. We’re all out here to get better. We all want to walk away from this experience with everybody healthy; feeling like we got something out of it and it wasn’t just a brawl. We got good work this morning and hopefully that will carry through over the next two practices.”
There have been talks about shortening the preseason to two games and having 18 regular season games. Being the player representative, what are your thoughts on that?
“That has been thrown out as something that the owners want in the upcoming negotiations. There are a lot of things that would have to happen for that to occur. For us, as players, when you look at two extra games, especially when the season is so long at 16 games, what are the increased chances of a player getting seriously injured by having two more games that are very meaningful? Guys are already beat up at the end of a season, let alone if you tack on two more games. It’s a lot more than adding two more games or getting two more paychecks. How is this going affect our health or our longevity, our careers? There are a lot of things to take in to account, it’s not just about adding two more games and pay you two more paychecks. It takes a big toll on the body.”
Is there a rivalry with the Texans?
“Because we are in pretty close proximity, you might say that we have an intermingling of fans between here and Houston. Houston is a place that a lot of people, post Katrina, took refuge. Some of those Who Dats have stayed in Houston. Maybe the fact that we are so close, and we probably have a carryover of the intermingling of fans between here and there, that may be what creates that rivalry. These opportunities to practice against each other, the reason we are doing it is to help both of our teams get better. That’s the point.”
Have you had a chance to look at the Texans’ secondary?
“As we go through these practices, I look at film. I look at the first preseason game, last year’s practices, all of those things to try to study up on their personnel a little bit. Just like during training camp when we are practicing against our guys, I study the players. I try to find the match-ups and who I want to attack no matter who is on the field. It just happens to be the Texans. So, I am studying their personnel and their young guys.”
How do you feel about
“Before he got here, I had never met Ladell Betts before. Everything that I have heard about him as a teammate and a player, and everything that I saw on film told me he was a solid football player and a solid locker room guy. I am glad he is on our team now. It’s unfortunate about the circumstances, with
Is it a surprise to you that Brett Favre is back in Minnesota?
Did you expect that?
“Yes. The guy loves football. You just get the feeling that he is going to play as long as his body will allow him. That was the big issue, at least it seemed to be, was if his ankle was going to be 100%. If it is not at 100%, he doesn’t want to go out there at 80%. You want to be 100%. Certainly, I know what it’s like to go through offseasons with injuries. It’s frustrating and you just kind of wait for the thing to heal. A lot of times, it just takes time. It’s hard to be patient with something like that. For a guy like him, he loves the game and can still play at a high level. They have a great team, so I’m not surprised that he’s back.”
Does it make the first regular season game any more interesting?
“Never in my mind did I assume that he was not going to be on the other side of the field. It was just my expectations I guess.“
Some of the Vikings players said that Brett Favre was targeted. Are you ever concerned that you might be targeted like pitchers target players in baseball?
“It is what it is. The fact is when the guy on defense has a chance to take a shot on a quarterback legally, he’s going to do it. If he hits him illegally, he is either going to get a huge fine or a penalty and hurt his team. I don’t feel like our guys were cheap-shotting Brett at all. Were we trying to hit him and hit him hard? Yes. Absolutely. I am sure their defensive coaches were telling their defenders the same thing: if you get a shot at Brees, take it. I don’t think there was anything dirty about that. Brett stood in there and played a heck of a football game against us despite taking a lot of hits. Our defense was hitting him hard. I felt like it was all clean. It happened to be that on one of those hits, he suffered an ankle injury. I don’t think our guys did that on purpose.“