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Drew Brees and other New Orleans Saints players transcripts from Day 7 of training camp

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Thursday's practice was moved to the team's indoor facility

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
August 1, 2013

Sarah Thomas is out here today. She’s been with you for a few years, maybe. Through a players perspective, there is a little bit of history there. What is the difference when you’re out there? Anything with that?

“No, she is a pro. She’s been out here, like you said, the last couple years. So there is a comfort level, as with any other official. It is an opportunity when they come out here to fine-tune their skills and get ready for the season. It is their training camp just as much as it is our training camp. When you kind of follow the history of really all officials, you know we have an officials report every week before we play every game, and it kind of details the history of this official. For example, Walt Coleman’s out here too. You know, he started, maybe, I don’t know this for sure about him specifically. But maybe, an official started in the Pac 10 Conference, and they coached these bowl games, and then became a side judge this year, and five years later, they became a head referee, and they have refereed this AFC Championship game, and this Pro-Bowl. It just kind of goes through their list of accomplishments, and it’ll talk about what their job is outside of being an official. They have a family. You know, you learn about them on a personal level. It is not just all business, like it is out there on game day and such. We can have those personal conversations as well. They are as if they are one of your teammates or something.”

Do you want to see a woman on the field while you are still playing?

“Sure. I mean they are as qualified as anyone else who is out there. You see, there is a protocol that they all go through. It is not easy to become a NFL official, just like it is not easy to become a NFL player. There is, like I said, a list of qualifications, experience levels; there is a process by which they go through. But, certainly, it seems like she is deserving if she is going to be out there.”

Are we mislead with Benjamin Watson? He was always a run-blocking tight end. But, I have been impressed. As a pass receiving tight end, he seems like the complete deal. He is good at blocking for the run, but he can really catch the ball. He catches it cleanly. He looks good out there.

“Yes, for being a 10-year veteran guy, he has been around for a long time, (and) been on some really good teams. He has won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. (He is) extremely athletic, fast, and (has) a rare combination of the ability to be a great route runner, catch the ball well and also (be a solid) blocker. We really have a good one in him.  He is going to be great for Jimmy (Graham). They get along extremely well. It is going to be a great combination. So we are excited to have him.”

Lance Moore is the longest tenured receiver. He says he does not like being called that. What are your thoughts on that?

“Is that just another term for you are old? Longest tenure? You know what though? Look at Lance’s career. He was an undrafted free agent. I think on Cleveland’s training camp. Ryan Pace has told me some of the stories. He has told me many times. He saw him in a scrimmage one time, snatched him in ’05, I believe, during the Hurricane Katrina year, when the team was displaced, and he was on our practice squad in ’06 and then kind of worked his way in, a little bit, in ’07, and then now he has been a mainstay since ’08, and has really done a phenomenal job. There is not a guy I trust more out there than Lance. The road that he has traveled to get where he is, he has earned it all. But we have a lot more good years together, but that experience is a good thing for him. I do not mind being called tenured. Not old, but tenured. It is good.”

Looking at those young receivers, at the three or four spot, do any of them stand out to you?

“A lot of them are standing out, actually. I mean literally, every single one of them. You put them in there and feel a level of confidence. So we will see how it shakes out. There is still a lot of football to be played, practices and then the preseason games, but I feel like we have a really solid group here.”

What was your relationship with Sean (Payton) like when he first came back, when you guys first started on the field? Was there any rust you guys had to knock off? Can you just tell me a little bit about that, having him back and how you all interacted?

“I would not say there was any rust. You know, you have those people in your life that you may not see for a while, but when you get together, it is like no time has passed. That is how it is with Sean. We had a little bit of catching up to do, but just in regards to ‘Hey, how has life been for the last fourteen months,’ and ‘What is your perspective as you saw from a distance,’ and that kind of thing, but other than that, it has been football as usual, business as usual. It is just good to have him in my ear in practice and have your head man back.”

Has his approach, in terms of dealing with you and interacting with you, changed at all?

“It has not changed. It really has not. We have been together now, this will be our eighth season, going back to ’06. So, we have had a lot of time together. We can draw on a lot of experiences together. Sometimes, we are at practice, and we will be like ‘Hey, remember when we played so-and-so in ’07, and we ran this?’ It is weird how you remember certain things. I can’t remember certain things that you told me yesterday, but I can remember a play in a game from ten years ago. And who ran it, or why we called it, or who we were trying to attack, or what the situation was. It is just that crazy kind of memory when it comes to football. So, we will sit there and do that all day long on the field. And it is good. We are in the moment. We are talking shop, and trying to find ways to get better, and kind of retool and fine tune this offense to make it better.”

What do you think of Kenny Stills at this point?

“I really like Kenny. He reminds me a lot of Lance (Moore). Just a very smooth route runner and a very natural pass catcher. Pretty elusive, sudden at times. Bigger than you think. So, he has impressed me a lot. I like his approach. I think he is very smart and has the ability to play a lot of different receiver positions. Move him around. It does not seem like it has ever been too much for him. You keep throwing it at him. He just absorbs it and is able to go out and execute it. It doesn’t seem like it is weighing him down at all.”

On the same lines, can you touch on Nick Toon a little bit? He got hurt in camp last year.  

“I think coming for him from OTA’s, being away from football for about a year, you can tell there was a little rust to work off. But, ever since he has come into training camp, you see the light bulb coming on, and the sense of urgency. He is making some really nice plays, and making it look really natural, which is great to see out of a young receiver, watching him develop like that.”

Who would you compare going against Keenan Lewis, compared to other corners? Is it bump and run coverage ability?

“Well, whenever you have big corners with long arms, that is typically something that those guys like to get their hands on receivers, and reroute them at the line of scrimmage, and that works in their favor. You see a lot of bigger corners enjoy that, and he is definitely one of those guys. He has made some plays out here too. He has made some nice plays down the field too, not just on the jam. But, as they get down the field, ball up in the air, his ability to go up and contest it.”

The renewed focus on the rushing game, how much easier does that make your job and what kind of role do you think Pierre Thomas plays in that?

“He will play a big role. All of the backs will big roles. They are great stable backs. They can do everything. All of them can block, all of them can run, inside, outside. They can all catch the ball at the backfield. They are all smart, tough, disciplined, reliable. And so, anytime you can get the run game going, especially early in the game, it opens up so much in the pass game. We want to be very complimentary. So, where the run game is setting up the pass, the pass is setting up the run. And you have a defense on your heels to worry about. And there is so many ways they can hurt us. On the run game with all these backs, and the receiving corps and the tight end corps, and that kind of thing. That is the world we want to live in. “

Ryan Griffin, you gave him a good nickname, and so far it seems like he is making good strides here.

“RG4. Yeah, he had a big day yesterday. As a young quarterback coming in, you are limited on reps, and it is a lot of terminology, a lot of stuff thrown at you. He gets the benefit of having played at Tulane last year, with Curtis Johnson. It is a similar system, so some similar terminology carries over. But, you’re still stepping into the NFL game. The speed of the game, the speed at practice, and just the amount that is thrown at you at once (is big). I feel like he has done a great job at absorbing it. So, Griff is doing a great job.”

What is your opinion on the changes to the Pro-Bowl eliminating that kick return spot?

“I was not aware of that.”

They are adding another defensive back, instead of a kick returner spot next year.

“OK. Does that mean that they are not going to kick off anymore?”

Yeah. They are eliminating kick offs.

“Well, I can tell you this. Every guy who is over there at the Pro Bowl, who gets to be the lucky individuals who get to be on the kick off team, they probably haven’t done that in 10 years, or maybe ever. (It’s) not something they look forward to. It is obviously a high-risk, high-injury proposition on the kickoff team and kickoff return. So, I do not know. It stinks for the return guys, who certainly deserve that opportunity. Guys like (Darren) Sproles, and (Devin) Hester, and some of these other guys who have been those return guys in years past, but I guess I can see why they did it. No one wants to go over there and play special teams.”

How do you like the top two vote getters being captains picking teams? So you could have AFC guys on your team.

“Again, all this stuff is news to me. I have not seen it yet. So, explain that one to me again.”

The top two vote getters will be captains. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, two fantasy football players from NFL.com get to pick teams. So you can pick whomever you want. There is no NFC versus AFC. You could be playing against your own teammate. Jimmy Graham could be on the other team if you are the top two vote getters.

“So, the NFL Pro-Bowl roster guys are established, and then, basically, they have these team captains, who then choice amongst that pool of guys who goes to which team?”

Right. The NHL does it that way.

“Interesting. We will see how it plays out.”

As long as you are there right?

“I just want to throw to my guys. That is all.”

Drew, what are your thoughts on the Riley Cooper situation.

“OK, again. That is not something that I (am really up on). I just saw that when I was literally walking out of the locker room today, so I am not aware of that situation, other than I kind of heard that there were some racist comments made. I am not sure of anything other than that.”

Does that surprise you?

“Sure. I do not know Riley Cooper at all. So, again, I do not know the situation. Obviously, that is not a good thing if racist comments were made.”

Do you foresee, should a woman make it into a line judge, or whatever position it may be, that a perceived bad call will be treated any differently by the crowd, the team, the coaches, if the bad call came from a female official?

“I do not know. Maybe? I think it would be hard for a coach to yell at a female official, like he would a male official. That is just being honest. But, I think there is going to be a track record with officials, as they gain experience as they have games under their belt and that kind of thing. I mean we are not going to evaluate officials any differently, whether they are male or female.”

New Orleans Saints S Roman Harper
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 1, 2013

With seven days in, can you kind of asses the progress?

“It’s moving along in the right direction. We got more installed in the past couple of days and we have handled it very well. The younger guys are moving along well. I think they did well yesterday but everything we have been doing they start to catch up. Now they are just starting to get the flow.”

It almost seems like you guys are doing a little more there, foreseeing the blitzes and seeing what Drew Brees does. How frustrating is that at times and also realizing your trying to improve but it’s not always showing up immediately.

“It is what it is. I have seen Drew do this for about seven or eight years now. You just got to understand he is not going to give you a lot, so the things that we can actually execute  and actually confuse him on is going to really work in the game. At the end of the day, it is Drew but we got to worry about what we can do on defense and get better at doing that.”

Even though some coaches ask for players opinions about things, where does Rob Ryan fit in that spectrum?

“He’s always worried about, how do we like this, or how do we feel about this, or how do we like this look and if we don't like something then say something. Especially some of the older guys that have played some ball and got some stripes on the wall (he communicates this with them a lot). He is all about it, where we got to be comfortable and he understands that we play the game. If we are not comfortable then it’s just not going to work. It’s not just about black and white defense if you just put something on the board. Football is not played well that way, it’s played on the field, and it’s played between the lines. The players have to be comfortable there and you got to make plays.”

Does he do that more so than other coaches?

“That is Rob Ryan's style. I’m not going to say who had more or what. I am not really going to compare apples with oranges. At the end of the day Rob likes for us to be comfortable players about our play. (He wants us to) just go out there and make plays. If you are making plays he is happy with it.”


What’s your view of Kenny Vaccaro at this point?


“I like this guy, he has got some things that you can’t teach. He has got some toughness he has got some fight about him. Those are things that you can’t coach. You don't want to have to tell your players to be aggressive. It’s always good to have to tell them to come on back a little bit. If we keep him in the yard, he is going to be really good for us.”


Have you told him anything at this point?

“No I don't tell him anything. I just let him go and we will correct him on Sundays. Right now he is too young for me to be telling him what to do and I coach him up on football stuff, but aggression and things like that I just let him go and if he has got to fight then fight. It’s like (a) playground out here, you got to get it done.”


You know Sean Payton and Drew Brees very well. How would you say their communication their interaction have been this season compared to other seasons after having that year away? What did you first notice about them together?

“They always have (had) a special relationship. They work closely hand in hand. When it comes to the playbook especially in the game plan, how we are going to attack teams. We won’t do too much of things that Drew is uncomfortable with. Sean has a great feel of what Drew likes. Sean has a way of putting everybody in position, exotic formations whether it’s with spirals or having three running backs in he is very, very good with mixing up personnel Drew understands that. It’s really good seeing he has got his (opportunity to) work back together (with coach Payton) again.”

Has anything changed? Is anything different?

“Not in the huddle. They always had a strong bromance. It is what it is.”

As a defender, how much more difficult does it make when the offense is able to run the ball efficiently?

“It makes it so much harder because now you have to actually come up field, really keep your eyes right, but then it makes it better for the offense because now they can pull out, (run) play action, heavy sets. They can bring in 20 personnel, make a throw on third (down and) it just really keeps you balanced, when they are in control of the pace of the game. It really makes it hard on the defense.”

New Orleans Saints, WR Lance Moore
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sarah Thomas, which was up here speaking. Did you notice any kind of stuff with the two female referees that were out there today?

“Yes, because you guys are all here. Sarah has actually been at our camp for the last two or three years, maybe even four years. You notice her the first couple times but after that you don’t really notice her when you’re on the field. Once the whistle is blown, we have to play ball. We can’t worry about who is up there wearing the zebra shirts.”

Playing ball now with seven days under your belt, how would you asses how the guys are progressing? We see more defensive side, more blitzes.

“I think we are playing a little better. It’s still early on in camp. We have not gotten yet to intersquads (which we will do) on Saturday. We have not had any live action yet. Guys can look really good in practice, but not so good in games. Once we get closer to those game situations we will get a better read. Like I said, we are working hard, trying to get better every day and that’s our focus.”

It kind of seems, when you look at position battles with receivers and defensive backs and lots of players in there battling for positions. It kind of helps each other around doesn't it?

“It does. Anytime there is going to be competition especially on both sides it’s going to bring the best out of us. We got a deep group of receivers. From top to bottom I think this is one of the deepest groups we have had since I have been here. I think that is only going to make us better. Each day we go out we are trying to make the DBs better and I hope in turn they are trying to do the same for us.”

What does it mean the you are the senior tenured player among the receivers?

“I don't really like it (joking). I don't want Sean (Payton) to come up to me and call me one of the old guys. He has done it a couple times already during camp and I don't want to get that label. It is definitely a credit to the way that I work and coming from where I came from to get to this point. This is my ninth training camp and about seven days in it feels like it’s my fifteenth. I feel good and I’m just trying to continue on forward.”

Isn’t that a compliment?

“It is because I’m still here, but you don't want them to start to call you old.”

Coach has talked about wanting to have more balance on running the ball this year. From your perspective have you noticed them calling a lot more running plays?

“I would not necessarily say they are calling more running plays, but the focus is definitely there. Anytime we can play more complementary games on offensive, not only is going to help us more on our offensive team; but it’s going to help our team in general. It will give our defense a little more rest and hopefully gain more yards, more first downs, and (produce better) time possession as well, and definitely help our special teams out too in bad situations.”

Is that something you noticed as a receiver when you guys ran the ball better in the past if you have more room to work with out there?

“Yes. The year we won the Super Bowl I think we were top 10 rushing. That kind of gets swept under the rug because Drew seems to pass for a ton of yards every season. The more success we have on the ground then I guarantee the more successful we will be every season.”

Drew said that Sean Payton came back in here this year with a different perspective and a lot of fresh ideas. What have you noticed that you have brought to the table on your side of the ball?

“I would say, first and foremost just the sense of normalcy. The whole last sixteen to eighteen months have been different around here. He is such a creative and intelligent football mind. He is always going to be breaking things down. He was away for a whole season and he comes back and knows every single play that happened last year because he broke it down on film. Like you said he has definitely got new ideas and innovative things to put into our offense (we) can’t give those away now but we will see those here in a couple of weeks.”

New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sarah Thomas and the other female official are out here today. From a player’s perspective, what do you think of something like that? There is obviously a large amount of media covering this?

“The only difference today for us was all of the cameras.  Usually there aren’t this many cameras, but for us there is no difference. All I know is she is wearing black and white and she’s got a hat and a whistle so I have to be real nice to her. I can’t tell at all (in terms of how she does her job as opposed to a male official) and she is very helpful at explaining calls and giving us examples. For me, it was no different. “

Are you confident that something will get worked out with possibly extending your contract before the season starts or are you not really dwelling on that?

“I haven’t really thought about it. I’m in day seven of camp and I’m just trying to stay alive here, but for me contractwise, I haven’t really payed any attention to it. (I’m) just trying to focus on that first game against Atlanta and making sure that I take care of my body and I’m ready to go.“

What have you noticed about the approach on offense? How has that shifted a little bit towards having a more of an effective running game? What other things have you noticed so far?

“Well like you said, run game (is an emphasis).  Even in meetings just the explanation of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, the explanation of different checks that we’re doing is more in depth and out here every day, nine on seven has been pretty aggressive.  So definitely focusing on the run game and I think having Drew (Brees) here this whole offseason helped out a lot as far as our passing game.  Unlike last year, that’s when (training camp) we were trying to iron out some of the things and now to have him here this whole offseason, I feel like we’re ahead of where we were.”

Speaking of the run game, has Benjamin Watson given you an pointers because he is noted as an outstanding run blocker? Just talk about being the complete tight end especially in the running game.

“Ben Watson is a beast. He looks like he is 19 years old and he’s definitely helped me as far as telling me to stay low.  One of my bigger issues is I’m so tall, but I’m going to do anything that this team asks me to do.  If they want me to go out there and run block and hit someone off of the ball that’s what I’m going to do. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s going to help us win. I’ve been working on that this whole offseason as always and I’ll be ready for my turn.”  

What is your view on Kenny Vaccaro?

“He’s a good player.  He’s aggressive which is good at the safety position. He’s been doing very well and been showing what he has and I’m excited to see his progress. I’m excited to see him in a game.”

You’re OK with the aggressiveness out here?

“Yes, just as long as he’s not aggressive with me, we’ll be fine (laughter). “

New Orleans Saints Pierre Thomas
Post-Practice Media Availability
August 1, 2013

It’s seven full days now of camp already and I know you guys want to get that running game going and with the pads you can kind of tell how that offensive line is doing. What is your assessment on how the offensive line is playing in the run game?

“They’re doing an amazing job up front getting to the defenders (and) getting on them quick, especially getting us to this outside zone which is something we really need to work on. Like (coach) Payton said, he wanted to establish a run game this year and we’re showing that a lot.  He is calling a lot of run plays in practice and we’re executing them very well.  Guys up front, but not just them. You have the receivers and the tight ends doing their job and our fullback also.  Everybody is taking a hand in this job of trying to get this ground game going, something that we really need, being balanced on this offense.”

It kind of seems in the past that a 3-4 defense always gave the Saints offense a little trouble. Do you think it will help practicing against them every single day?

“Definitely. It definitely helps us out.  It’s a lot harder running against a 3-4 defense. You have to change up your schemes a lot more and (in) a 4-3 defense, you’ve got more backers you’re trying to get up on, a lot of fast guys, you know some of the linemen can’t really get to (you), but practicing against these guys, seeing that is going to make us better. Like they say, practice makes perfect and as long as we keep practicing against these guys, (and) they keep giving us good looks, we’re going to eventually get better at it and you can see it as the days go on.”

Have you been working on the run game at this point more than you were last year?

“I can’t remember, but I know we’re focused this year a lot on the run game.  We’re really trying to get down to the point to where we need to get our blocks, get on guys and how we can pick up certain blitzes if we don’t get out of the call just in time.  So we really focus on the ground game more than anything this year.”

For you personally, does it seem like you’re getting more reps in this training camp?

“The reps been going out the same because you have Travaris Cadet. He is our other fourth back, if you want to look at it as that.  Even though we did lose a good running back, Chris Ivory, we always had a fourth guy. If you want to say last year, we had a fifth guy, we had Travaris.  He can be in the rotation too.  No matter what, we still had a three back rotation in the past and we’re going to try and keep it going. If one of us goes down, we got another guy that can step up and do everything. “

What is the reason why you think they got away from running the ball as much last year?

“I’m not really sure at that point.  Maybe we were down in a game and our opponents were up by a lot and we were trying to catch up so we didn’t really get to the ground game as much.  The ground game hurt us last year a lot. We weren’t balanced. More teams were looking at us to pass the ball a lot more and they stopped the run game a whole lot, but this is something we really need to focus on, something we said ourselves and we looked back last year ‘what can we do to get better,” and just looking at our games in the past it was really one of the run games that we needed to focus on and establish and be more of a balanced team. “

You had a couple of female officials on the field with you. What was it like having them on the field with you?

“It good, it’s amazing. I’m glad they’re into it.  It shows them that they want to be involved in this sport also and they can go out here and ref with these guys out here and understand the game and be with some of these players, stay tuned and stay focused on the game.”

Can they keep up with you guys?

“Definitely, I see some of the women out there running.  Some of them look faster than some of our guys out there.”

What did you notice with Sean Payton and Drew Brees when Sean first came back, about their communication and interaction.  Is there anything different with the two of them on the field?

“One thing I noticed about Sean when he came back, he was pumped and ready.  He is always pumped and ready for the season, but for some reason this season he is, you just see a glow about him. I don’t know if it’s the CrossFit that go into him, but you just see another glow about him. He is excited, he’s pumped, he’s ready.  He got a chance to see how our system works from a fans point of view. So he’s seen the whole outline of the offense and defense.  He gets to say ‘Ok, this is what I want to add into it,” and I know he is excited to be back and ready to go for the season.”

What’s he brought that’s been different?

“He’s bringing a whole lot of energy.  We’re working harder than we’ve ever worked before. Hands down, we’re working harder than we ever have before in the past.”

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