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New Orleans Saints player transcripts from Day 6 of training camp

Posted Jul 31, 2013

Kenny Stills, Kenyon Coleman, Travis Cadet, Ben Grubbs, Jabari Greer, Will Smith, Rafael Bush and Ryan Griffin spoke with the media Wednesday

kenny stills

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Kenny Stills
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kenny, it’s been pretty apparent in the last several days, especially Saturday being a good day, that a handful of balls have found you. Can you just touch on how from OTA’s to minicamps to now, it kind of seems like you are getting more involved. Are you starting to understand the system a little more or is it just kind of the luck of the draw when balls are flying at you?

“Yes, a lot of that is just the luck of the draw like you are saying. I just happened to be there, the ball happens to come your way, the defense spreads and the quarterback finds you. I have been getting pretty lucky there, and like you said, I am getting a lot more comfortable with the offensive system.”

Do you think that comfort is part of the reason we are starting to see you get some more time with the ones?

“No. Coaches are rotating how they want to and seeing and putting guys in different positions to see what they can do. The ones, twos, it doesn’t matter. I’m just feeling the system.”

Coach called you a quick study. We touched on it earlier, but can you talk about picking up the system so quickly to be able to really show on the field?

“It benefits me just in the fact that we have a similar type of offense at Oklahoma. Coming here and being that my dad played football. I have been around football for a long time, so knowing the schemes and being able to grasp them very quickly has helped me, get out there and be able to make the plays.”

Lots of players tend to think that competition brings the best out of people. You look at this receiving core, sure maybe outside of here, people may know Joseph Morgan, Marques Colston and Lance Moore, but there is a pretty competitive group of good receivers?

“Definitely. We are all learning from each other. At the end of the day, we know that they only keep so many guys, but we are trying to help each other in the receiving room, and we all have each other’s back.”

We are all starting to get to know Kenny Vacarro, but you know him from your days at Oklahoma. Our eyes are open a little bit about how aggressive he is, but you have known that for quite a while now?

“Yes, we have had some heated rivalries there with Kenny. I know what type of player he is, and he knows what type of player I am. I think it has taken a little bit for the other guys, and the rest of the team to get used to him.”

You have a lot of guys battling for those last few receiver spots. Talk about how that competition is going so far and what you are doing to separate yourself from the pack?

“We know they only keep a certain number of guys at receiver, but we have a really tight room, a really good group of guys, and we are all in there helping each other. We know it is a competition, and we know that we have to come out here and make every play that we can. At the end of the day, we know that we all have each other’s back.”

New Orleans Saints Defensive End Kenyon Coleman
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July, 31, 2013

After being in the NFL for so long, what’s it like to come to this franchise specifically and how well do you feel you fit in so far?

“First of all, Sean (Payton) is an incredible leader. I have had some good head coaches but Sean (Payton) has built an incredible machine here. It’s very impressive and as far as me fitting in, we have a lot of great guys here so it makes the transition a lot easier.”

Do you welcome the role being the veteran guy?

“The thing is with experience, you can help a guy out and I know that the same thing happened to me when I was a younger guy. I had great guys like Regan Upshaw, Greg Ellis, and some other great veterans that taught me a lot.”

What’s your role potentially in this defense? It’s a new scheme for these guys but how good can this defense be?

“We definitely have a high ceiling. There is so much talent here. I think that the skill set fits really well with what Rob (Ryan) is doing. There is a high ceiling for me and I am going to do whatever is asked of me.”

How comfortable are you playing in this defense?

“Rob (Ryan) knows what he is going to get out of me and there’s that comfort there. I am just going be me and that’s what Rob (Ryan) asked me (to do).”

You were out in training camp in Oxnard, California the last couple of years. What’s the biggest difference being here with Sean (Payton) and the heat?

“The humidity is brutal. You can’t even compare the two. There are different philosophies out here for skinning the cat and so far it’s working out here.”

Is this the toughest day of camp because you have been going for so many days in a row?

“To me it’s more of the mental grind. Your body wants to do one thing but the reaction is something else. For me, I look back and can’t believe this is my twelfth NFL training camp.”

You go back to the two a day days?

“We used to do two a days back to back to back and there were no rules. A lot has changed but it’s still a hard, grueling, physical training camp.”

How much did it change for the better?

“I think that they are doing the right thing. You could be smarter, protect the body, and still get the work done.”

New Orleans Saints Running Back Travaris Cadet
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What are some of the biggest differences between now and last summer, trying to make this team, to having a full year now under your belt, now, in terms of training camp?

“It just makes it easier because you know the transition. It was not like coming from college, and you are trying to learn the ropes. Once you get that year under your belt, you know how things go, you know how the system goes, how the coaches are, and you can go out there and execute, instead of just thinking.”

Coach Payton and your teammates talk a lot about your versatility and being able to do a lot of different things. How much do you pride yourself on being able to do that many different things?

“I try to go out every day and give it my all. I try to separate myself from the average player, so I am around a great group of leaders and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful in New Orleans. It is a great group of guys. You have leaders everywhere and that is what is going to take to win. I am just proud and blessed to be in a system like this.”

Is there a certain phase that you enjoy the most? Is it the kick return game? Is it covering kicks, maybe taking a handoff?

“I really don’t have a favorite. I just love playing the game.”

To be an undrafted free agent and be with this franchise which obviously has high expectations, what does it mean to earn your way here and to be here with these guys?

“From day one, I have seen that this would be a hard team to make. In life, you want something that is going to push you to your fullest potential and that is going to bring everything out of you. You are going to get knocked down ten times, but you are going to get up eleven. You have a player to your right and a player to your left depending on you to do your part. It is about being a part of a hundred pencils. You can break apart one pencil, but you can’t break a hundred.”

The coaches have instilled a lot of confidence in you in the club trading Chris Ivory. Describe your journey from last year all the way up to now with him being gone, and you auditioning for a more extensive role at this point?

“I never really thought about the whole situation. I just controlled what I can control. Chris Ivory is a great back. I love him. I love everything about him. What he brings to the table, he brings to the field. I have learned from all those guys from day one. All of those guys welcomed me with open arms and always helped me. At the end of the day, it is a competition, but there is competition in life, period. I am happy for Chris Ivory, and I heard he is happy in New York. Things happen.”

New Orleans Saints Cornerback Jabari Greer
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kenyon Coleman, a veteran in this league, has been around a lot longer than most of you. What does he bring to this team?

“I think he has been incredible. Just to be able to have his maturity, (and) leadership in the locker room (has been beneficial to us). He is humble, yet has an assertive demeanor. You can tell that he is a man of strength, (and) a man of character. He comes out. He gives everything that he has. So, anytime that you can put that type of veteran leadership in the locker room, it bodes well for the youth of your team. Also, bringing guys in that embody the character of the team that they represent is good.”

Were things getting a little chippy today, par for the course at this stage of training camp?  

“Yes. Even though the heat was turned down a little bit, I believe the intensity has been ramped up. Coach (Payton) has done a good job of making sure that we are staying competitive. All in all, it’s football. Once we start hitting, things get physical. Personalities and pride start to flare.”

How much of a break was it to go out in shorts today?

“Not at all. I guess the best break was the weather. We had some cloud coverage. Ultimately, with the shorts, the only thing that you are lacking is knee and thigh pads. I think psychologically it is different, knowing that you are not fully clothed. Ultimately, physically it is pretty much the same.”

This is six straight days of working. Are you ready and looking ahead to the weekend?

“No there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We can’t see it. We actually just started. Even though it seems like we have been out here for two months, this is a process. We realize that what we are doing right now is going to pay dividends. We are just putting our heads down and working and making sure that we are really establishing something here. I believe the more that we expect to pull back and ease up, the easier it is for the feeling of comfort to come up and that can ruin teams.”

Do you have any special routine for yourself, at night, or between practices?

“Yes I do. As an older guy, you have to be much more attentive to your body. As a young guy, sometimes you feel as if the sky is the limit that you are going to be able to do this forever. As an older guy, you have to make sure that you are maintaining your body, that you get in the ice tub, that you are eating well, and that you are really doing the things for your body that pays dividends in the league.”

How has Wesley McGriff transitioned to the league? How do you feel about that?

“I feel like he has been incredible. He still has a college mind-set in some aspects. He is keeping us young that is for sure. He is making us chippy, making us tough. There are some times where personalities clash, but I think that ultimately we know that he is for us 110 percent. He is making us a better defense. You see the way that we are competing out there. Coach McGriff is really creating a culture at our defensive back room that is really helping us look at ourselves and look at where we are. We realize that we have a lot of work to do. He is challenging us. We are actually going out there, and we are challenging each other. Having him as a part of our defensive back room has been nothing but spectacular, but sometimes I just want to wrestle with him. He is like one of the players sometimes.”

New Orleans Saints Guard Ben Grubbs
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How did it feel with not practicing in pads today?

“I don’t think there was much of a difference.  We had shoulder pads, and as long as we have shoulder pads, we are still banging.  Our legs are tired right now.  Our goal is to go hard every day.  The team is stacking practice on practice and understand that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, so (we) just keep pushing forward.”

It seemed a bit physical today.  Is it getting more physical the deeper into camp it gets?

“Yes, you’re tired.  It’s hot.  Tempers are flaring.  The defense is trying to get an edge.  The offense is trying to get an edge.  We are scratching and clawing to get every yard and it’s a game of inches right now and every yard counts.  We are going to do everything in our will to get that.”

How does a younger guy like Travaris Cadet work his way into the mix of the veteran running backs?

“I think it all depends on what type of willpower they got to have.  You brought up Travaris Cadet, he is one of the guys that I would love to have on my team, and I’m glad that he’s in the backfield.  When you have a guy like Cadet, nothing changes whether it’s Pierre Thomas or Darren Sproles, you still are going to give all that you have to help that guy out.  That is our job as an offensive lineman, to open up holes no matter who is back there.  So, even if I get back there, I am expecting that hole to be open.”

What is special about Cadet?

“He’s just a great guy and I’m not even speaking about football right now. He’s just a great guy off the field and usually when you have that kind of character off the field and then he continues to work on the field, that’s the total package.”

New Orleans Saints Outside Linebacker Will Smith
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What does Kenyon Coleman bring to this team?

“I think he brings great leadership.  He is an experienced guy that has played in 3-4 his entire career.  He is leading those guys on the defensive line, giving those guys light to the new scheme and to the new position.  He is just a great all around guy that shows up every day and works hard.”

Can you sense that it is getting a little chippier as the more practices go on?

“Yes, that’s how it always is.  It’s about that time.  It’s getting hot.  Guys are getting a little tired, getting a little frustrated battling every day against the same guys over and over.  It’s about that time.  That is what we are here for.  We are here to fight through those periods, (and) have guys get better.  It’s a tough time.”

You look at Kenny Vaccaro and how physical he is, do you like seeing that?

“Definitely.  For the rookie, you don’t see that with rookies coming in just flying around and banging guys every single day over and over and over.  Now we have to see if he can do it in a game on Sundays.  We know he is going to be a terrific player and he has to continue to get better in coverages and tackling.”

What have you seen in the young guy Rufus Johnson?

“He is working hard.  Rufus played defensive end his whole four years in college and had to convert to outside linebacker. It has been a little difficult for him, but he is slowly adjusting to it.  He is playing well.  He’s making plays.  He is making a lot of mistakes, but he is still making plays and working hard.”

Can you talk about how David Hawthorne is doing?

“Hawthorne has always been a good player.  He brings his A game every day.  Tough kid, loves to fly around and hit people and he is doing what he always does.”

You spent your whole life playing a five technique and nine technique, and all of a sudden-have you figured how many different positions you are playing right now? How many different alignments?

“They have me all over the place.  Anything I can do to help the team (I will do).  We have so many different packages which they put me in three technique, defensive end, outside linebacker, right, standup linebacker, all over the place.  I am just learning and enjoying it.  The defensive scheme is very fun.  It is always challenging and always keeps us doing different things every day and I’m just learning.”

Is it fun?

“It’s fun because it keeps it interesting.  In (training) camp, when you are doing the same thing over and over, it gets a little frustrating.  You start getting in little cat fights with the other guys across the line. With me, I don’t have to worry about those guys every single day.  I am seeing somebody different, so it makes things a lot more interesting and more fun.”

Even though it’s camp, do you see the defense building a confidence?

“This is where we build our confidence.  This is when we start working together, knowing what the guys on the opposite side of us can do, knowing what the defensive line can do, what the secondary can do.  This is where we gel as a team and this is definitely where we get our confidence going into week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons.”

New Orleans Saints Safety Rafael Bush
Post-Practice Media Availability
July, 31, 2013

You have been playing a lot with the ones recently after initially coming to the Saints as a special teams guy. What’s it like to be playing with the ones on a more regular basis?

“I think Rob (Ryan) is trying to use a lot of guys. We have a lot of safeties. We are competing every day. We have a lot of guys that can do things differently. We are just trying to get a good mix and a good feel for all of the safeties. Of course, getting some reps with the ones is pretty good. I just want to make sure that I am out there and am able to do my job so they can count on me if they ever need me.”

It seems like they are playing a lot of three safety looks. How much do you feel like that gives you an opportunity to be out there on a more regular basis?

“We have a lot of great safeties. We have a lot of guys that can play different things. We have a lot of guys that can play different spots. We want to be ready mentally so he puts us out there in different positions to make sure that we can learn each others positions. He (Rob Ryan) puts a lot on us mentally but I think we do a good job of communicating and talking.”

You must be grasping it. Otherwise they wouldn't be throwing you out there.

“I think we are all doing a good job of communicating. We are doing a good job of taking everything in. He throws a lot at us but that’s what he wants. I think for the most part we have been doing a good job. We still have some things we need to clean up in film. I’m sure we will get that done, keep making corrections, and come out here and keep working hard tomorrow.”

What do you see in some of these young receivers who are fighting for spots on this roster.

“I think it comes down to special teams. You have a lot of guys that do a lot of things differently but I think a lot of people understand that they have to make their mark on special teams. They are getting good reps out here but I think for the most part they have to make sure that they understand the concept behind special teams.”

How special is Travaris Cadet out there in the return game?

“He can do multiple things. He is a threat offensively, a threat in the return game, a threat in the kicking game, he can catch the ball well out of the back field, he can run in between the tackles, he has speed, he has vision for our kickoff returns, and he can also cover kicks. The more you can do the better.”

How has Wesley McGriff transitioned to the pro game and where do you see him as a position coach?

“He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He keeps us in tip-top shape. You can see us over there working a lot on our individual drills. We are buying into what he has. He brings that college mentality. He is going hard just like we are. We respect that and me buy into it.”

How much of a challenge is it to coordinate the front with the coverage this year as opposed to last year?

“I don't think it’s difficult. You just have to communicate and make sure everybody is on the same page. I think that comes with every defense. You just have to communicate.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Ryan Griffin
Post-Practice Media Availability
July, 31, 2013

Head Coach Sean Payton called today your best practice yet. Would you agree with that?

“I thought it was a good practice overall for the whole team. A lot of guys lined up right and did a good job with the assignments. I don't think it was just mine. I think it was everyone’s.”

It looked like moving up to the third team agreed with you?

“Seneca (Wallace) didn't practice today so I was able to get some more reps. It was just good to get out there and learn some more and get better.”

It kind of looked like for some of the passes you threw today, some of them were under pressure when you hit those deep balls but you looked like you were anticipating things more and you have to be able to have that speed at this level wouldn't you agree?

“Definitely. At this level, the windows are smaller and the margin for error is smaller. A lot of it is post-practice work. He (Sean Payton) has been doing a great job of getting us out there and throwing extras. That’s where it comes from.”

Did the ball that was picked off sail on you a little bit?

“I was trying to fit it in a tight window and the safety (Rafael Bush) made a great play. I should have gotten my eyes on him immediately and I didn't.”

Are you feeling more comfortable?

“Day-by-day. It’s definitely a process. I’m just trying to come out and get better every day.”

It seems like you’re really poised out there because I know at times a quarterback can get frustrated. Does any of that have to do with the adversity you faced at Tulane?

“I think a lot of that just has to do with practice. You try and anticipate things that are not going to happen and you try to anticipate things going wrong. A lot of it comes from that but me and Jeremiah (Warren) have been getting together after practice, before practice, before walkthroughs, and after walkthroughs. Today was perfect. We didn't have one missed snap. There was just one confusion with the snap count. Every day we are coming out, getting better, and trying to get it right.”

How similar is this offense to Tulane’s?

“The terminology's pretty much the same. Obviously, we weren't able to do as much at Tulane as we are here but having the terminology be pretty similar is a big help.”

Does that make it a little bit easier to adjust to the pro game and how are you adjusting?

“The terminology being the same helps because usually that is the first thing you have to memorize and get in. I kind of got a jump start on it so I was very fortunate.”

Coach Payton said that the thing he was most impressed with was not only making the throws but the protection calls. How important is that at this level?

“Coach (Rob) Ryan definitely brings the heat, so you need to find where the pressure is and pick it up. That’s not me. That’s the center and the offensive line. I thought we communicated very well today.”

When you have a good day at practice, is it rewarding in the grind of training camp?

“Definitely. You always enjoy having a good day. There’s more autographs to sign so it’s just fun but you can’t get high and low. You have to stay pretty even.”

At this point, do you feel like you are doing everything that is necessary to earn a place on this team or even the practice squad?

“That’s not up to me. I’m just trying to come out here and get better every day. That’s the coaches’ decision (roster decisions), so I am just going to worry about what I can control and come out and give my best.”

Do you feel like you are doing the things you can control correctly?

“I think its (a) process day by day. You have to come out and work at it. Extra work in the film room and studying your plays in the playbook (are a big part of it).”

As far as the young receivers, which one of them has impressed you the most?

“I think all of our receivers are doing great. We have 12 receivers from 12 to one, any team across the league would love to have. I think they are all doing a great job and I am really excited to get out and start working with them in preseason games.”

Speaking of young receivers, you had a nice connection with Saalim Hakim that ended up going for a big gain. Just talk about what you saw on that play and what the coverage was giving you.

“Saalim is a very fast guy. I think he ran a 4.2. I knew when he was running a post or a go he was always an option. He was able to slip past the defense and get out there. I was trying to get him the ball. It was a little under thrown but he made a nice play.”

Is this really the first time that you have had to fight for a spot on the team like this?

“There’s always competition at any level. When I was at Tulane, there was defiantly a competition with guys that came in every year. I don't know if that’s the case. I think it’s been the same ever since I got to Tulane. It’s a very high level and there are a lot of guys you are competing with.”