Erik, good morning and welcome to the organization.
“Good morning and thanks for having me, Who Dat Nation.”
You’ve got the Who Dat already down. Did you know about it from being in the division with Tampa Bay?
“Oh yeah, I was well aware of it, always coming into New Orleans once a year. I always was fully aware of the Who Dat Nation. Loud and excited and of course they have a pretty big social media presence. I’ve always been aware of it and now I’m excited to be a part of it.”
What’s it like coming from a division rival like Tampa Bay to another division team?
“It’s really exciting because I get to stay in my division, which means I’m comfortable playing the teams within the division. It’s really a pleasure to come to the Saints because from a far, I’ve really respected this organization and to be a part of it and to be a part of the next step in the organization is something that really excites me.”
No more hot games in September for you.
“Yeah, that dome is definitely an exciting place to play. I’m from Southern California so I’m a little spoiled with the weather so to be able to play in a dome is a big positive for me.”
Erik, you’re a guy that has played all over the field. Drafted originally as a defensive player. Going back to Stanford you started as an offensive player and didn’t you move to defense?
“Yeah, you know what I have played all over the football field since high school and even in college I played both sides of the ball. I played tight end and defensive end kind of splitting my time there at Stanford. I was drafted initially as a d-end. But I definitely had the potential to switch to the other side of the ball which ended up happening. Once that happened, I took advantage of my opportunity and ran with it. It’s just all coming together today.”
Here is what I know about you. You are an elite run blocker and have led the way for a couple of nice guys over there at Tampa Bay. That is a thankless job to say the least. Why have you embraced it so much?
“Well it’s a couple of reasons. One, I really do take a lot of pleasure in the physical part of football. A lot of people say that the game isn’t as physical as it used to be but I still think it’s there if you really look. It’s really important to me to take a lot of pride in physical run blocking, whether that is from the fullback position or up on the line of scrimmage. It’s definitely something I think about on a daily basis about getting better at. Also, you have to make it into an art. A lot of people think the fullback position or blocking just take up your aggression and attacking the defender as much as you can but it’s just the opposite. You have to make it and art and a craft. You have to work on it every day. It’s really an exciting and fun thing to do for me.”
At 6 feet 4 are you the tallest fullback in the NFL?
“I think it’s possible. Some NFL teams use the tight end also as their fullback so when it comes to that category maybe I’m in the middle. But definitely as a true fullback, I believe I am the tallest.”
What else do you like to do on the football field because Sean Payton is one of those guys that if he sees something he may use you in a way you’ve never dreamed of?
“I like doing everything. I really do. I really like taking pride in being able to do everything. Catching balls, running routes, running routes into the flats, stretching the field, pass protecting, just really anything that I can do to help on offense I will try to do and I will do it. It’s just something I’ve always put a lot of effort into.”
Tell me about the free agency process and why you chose the New Orleans Saints.
“Yeah, the free agent process was really interesting. I just sort of didn’t really think about it until everything really started to come to the surface. I think that was the best way to go about it. I kind of enjoyed my first month and a half off from the season and relaxed. Once everything started brewing up I started thinking about football again. With everything said and done, the Saints organization was the best fit. I thought the Saints organization was a great place for me and that’s how I ended up here.”
Erik, don’t take this the wrong way. Stanford guys are different. Why is that?
“There is that thing out there. I’m not really sure. I think they end up being different because I think the Stanford guy if you will, is all about being the best that he can be at all times no matter what the situation, whether that’s football, whether that’s training. I like to keep it in the athletics here. No one really knows that Stanford, you know it’s a good institution, but for the last 16 years it’s the best athletic department in the country. Every single sport and people sometimes forget that. Overall, it’s the best athletic department so I think at the end of the day people look at Stanford guys and they should realize they just want to be the best at everything on the field, everything in the gym, everything at practice. It’s just 100% perfect all the time.”
You also strike me as a guy who likes to do other things than play football.
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I was kind of excited to get out of college. There was a lot of stuff that we had to do besides football so once we got out of that we just got to focus on football. For the last 4 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to just thing about training. I love training and different styles of training, yoga, Pilates, Olympic lifting. I like to blend it all together. I spend a lot of the offseason doing that and with the vacation time that I get off, I like to travel. That’s one thing I like to do. I like to travel and do outdoor activities. I just got back from hiking Machu Picchu in Peru. That was a really big deal to me and something that I wanted to do for a really long time.”
“It’s awesome. That’s an elite backfield, what you just said. To be part of that and I can’t wait to get on rhythm with them. Day one of OTAs I want to be on rhythm. That’s what I want. I want to be fluid back there and help out any way possible I can.”
How soon can we see you in New Orleans?
“I was just there a week ago. I’m going to be there pretty soon checking it out. I don’t know much about the city. I’ve only been there once a year and never had time to check out the city. I’ve heard that this is one of the greatest cities in the world so I’m really excited about checking it out.”