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New Orleans Saints player transcripts from day 4 of training camp

Posted Jul 29, 2013

Benjamin Watson, Nick Toon, Courtney Roby, Jed Collins, Jim Leonhard, Brian de la Puente and John Jenkins met with the media Monday

New Orleans Saints Tight End Benjamin Watson
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

What’s the secret for you staying in the league for 10 years?

“Just maintenance, I have learned a lot along the way about taking care of your body, stuff like that. It keeps you young hanging around these guys.  I have four kids of my own so they have to keep me young too.”

Are you excited to get out here and get your legs loose?

“Yes, the first few days, we have been out of football so what we have been doing for the last few months is kind of awkward. Your body feels kind of awkward, but now I feel like I am playing football again. My legs are getting back under me. The biggest thing I think for me is running the plays. It’s one thing to sit in the meetings and kind of know what the chalkboard says, but when you actually go out and run it, that’s when you really learn and it becomes your own, so I am out here doing that this week.”

What is it like to be in a room with guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady?

“You have to be on it because they are. And those types of quarterbacks really challenge the whole offense to raise their play to another level because they are able to do so much. There is a lot on a quarterback like Drew Brees or a Tom Brady or a Manning, these are quarterbacks that can kind of orchestrate the game under center and get you out of bad situations. So, on offense as a tight end you have to be ready for any possibility, and so a new player makes it a little tougher sometimes because you have to learn so much. But they do a good job of breaking everything down and building you up to a place where you can be confident to go out and play.”

How much do you feel like teams won’t know what to expect from this offense when you and Jimmy Graham are on the field?

“It can play out a lot of different ways, offensive football a lot of the times is about mismatches whether it’s two tight ends, two running backs, empty, or all wide receivers, you want to be able to disguise what you do.  I think one aspect of this offense is before we line up we kind of blitz the defense in a way and to kind of give them different looks.  As far as Jimmy and I go, I am here to help this team win in any way possible and if that means coming out and both of us playing tight end creating those mismatches on linebacker and safety that would be great.”

How is it with a new team and missing the offseason?

“It’s definitely an acclamation process, and again, especially by missing the offseason as far as being able to go out and actually run the plays there is an acclamation process, getting your legs underneath you. I haven’t played football since last December, our last game in Cleveland. The training staff here and the coaches do a good job of what you can handle and increasing your workload every day. The biggest hurdle I think is learning what to do and be confident in what you are doing. Each day I am getting better, each day I am hearing the plays come out of Drew’s (Brees) mouth at the speed of light and trying to remember what to do, but the more I hear them, the more second nature they become.”

In what way do you and Jimmy (Graham) help each other?

“A funny thing about football, you end up having more conversations about non-football issues than football, and that’s the great thing about being in this setting where you are with these guys all the time. You end up talking about stuff that’s not football related, you talk about the fact that I have a wife and four kids and he is single and what would that look like for him one day or maybe not one day. What are the pitfalls? What are the good things? What are the bad things?  You start to grow together; all of us in our tight end group are starting to gel. And then on the football end, I remember coming into the league and there was a guy named Daniel Graham, Christian Fauria in New England, and those were the guys that kind of taught me what it meant to be a pro. Obviously, Jimmy is at a place where he’s athletically gifted and he’s an awesome player, he really is. But he wants to know how have you played this long? What are some things to take care of your body? What are those things that I am going to look to when I get in my seventh or eighth year so those are some of the things we talk about as well.”

Your reputation is that you are a good locker room guy, how important is that?

“With the teams that I have been on that have been successful (all of them) had a good locker room. They had veteran players who were professionals, who came to work every day when they didn’t feel like it and they were hurting. But they were able to set a good example. They had guys that were willing to sacrifice sometimes and it wasn’t always about them, maybe it was about the team. They kind of set the tone.  I just learned from guys, I just learned from guys like I talked about Daniel Graham, Teddy Bruschi, and Tom Brady and all of those guys that I looked up to when I was a rookie and I was coming into the league.  They kind of set the tone in those locker rooms.  So, a lot of success in football is obviously about the x’s and o’s, but a lot of that goes behind that to the discipline and how your locker room is.”

When you first got into the National Football League, did you picture yourself being in the league this long?

“No, not at all.  I say all the time, I remember feeling like, man if I can make it five years I’ll be happy.  My first year I had an ACL injury. I had MCL’s. I had concussions. I had all these ankle injuries and everything.  My first five years I had a lot of those things.  It’s one of those things where God opens a door and you keep walking through it until he closes it and moves you somewhere else.  If he would have closed it after five years that would have been great.  It’s been 10 years so he obviously wants me to continue playing football.  He opened a door for me to come to the New Orleans Saints, so I know that my family and I are here for a reason because he has us here and just keep walking until he brings something else for me.”

Do you see similarities with the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots?

“Yes, I have been here (only) a short time, but I have also talked to guys like David Thomas and Heath Evans, guys who have played here and actually came (over here) from New England.  Coach (Sean) Payton will tell you that a lot of our organization we model after the New England Patriots with the success that they had.  Obviously, (he does things) with his own spin on things, but there are certain tenants of a good football team that you copycat around the league.  So, yeah there are definitely some similarities, but Coach Payton has done a good job putting his own spin on it and he’s a great coach in his own right.”

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Nick Toon
Post-Practice Media Availability
July, 29, 2013

How does it feel to be healthy and to be able to participate in OTAs, minicamps and training camp?

“It feels great to be healthy. Obviously this year is the first full year for me. Getting to go through all the offseason training, OTAs, minicamps, and all of that stuff is great. It feels great to be back out here and to be out here healthy.”

What was that year out like?

“It was really just trying to take advantage of my opportunity to learn. I sat back and observed, watched the older guys, sitting in meeting rooms, trying to learn as much of the playbook as I could, watching film, and just trying to watch and observe. I kind of got the opportunity to step back and learn. Obviously, I wish I would have been out there playing but last year was still a great learning experience.”

Do the young receivers see that there is a lot of opportunity to be the next addition to this crop of receivers?
                       
“The opportunity is definitely there. It’s a very prolific offense and there are lots of opportunities. My mindset it to go out there and showcase my ability, do my job, be in the right place at the right time, and catch the ball. The rest will take care of itself.”

What type of receiver do you think you can be for this team?

“It kind of goes back to what I just said. My job is to go out there, do what I can do, showcase my ability, and how i fit in. We will see. That’s something that I can’t really answer right now.”

Even before Marques was missing practice, you were still seeing reps with the first team. Just having that opportunity for you now must be a really good thing for you right now.

“It’s great. It’s a blessing to be in the position that I am in. I am just trying to advantage of the reps and the opportunity that I have and the rest will take care of itself.

Seeing more balls from Drew Brees must absolutely help you?

“Definitely. Drew (Brees) is a great player and one of the best in the game if not the best in the game. It’s awesome being out there with the ones and getting the opportunity to go out there and showcase what I can do.”

New Orleans Saints Center Brian de la Puente
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

Do you think that the offensive line is working a little better than last year?

“We have put in a lot of hard work. Communication is very important on offense, so as a group I think we are all on the same page. Our goal is to get better every day, stack these practices together and get a foundation set for this season to have a successful year.”

How far do you feel like you have come considering the route you had to get here two-and-a-half years ago?

“For me personally, it’s always to stay hungry and to always be getting better. This team breaths competition and having the guys in the right places to be the best you can be and having the coaches to put you in the best position.  The combination of those two, staying hungry and really staying focused and never taking anything for granted.”

Can you talk about Jed Collins and how the fullback position is becoming less relevant in some places around the league?

“We want to run the football and to be a tough downhill team and the fullback position is a part of that.  Jed and I have been on a bunch of teams, and Jed will get down and dirty.  He is an intractable part of this run game, getting in there and getting after it.”

Can you talk about the difference you have seen in this new defense and the rookie John Jenkins?

“Yeah, I think this defense fits our defense personnel really well.  I know the inside guys are real stout.  I know John Jenkins is a real stout guy, I’ve gone against him quite a bit.  He is stout, plays with heavy leverage and he will be a good addition to the defense for sure.”

New Orleans Saints Nose Tackle John Jenkins  
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

How do you feel two months into your professional career?

“Every day I try to find something to work on so I can improve. I think from a month ago to now I think I’m (progressing) at a positive standpoint.”

What’s the biggest adjustment to life in the SEC or life in the NFL?

“It’s never really an adjustment, it’s just where you fit and finding your role onto a great team. That’s pretty much the biggest adjustment.”

Some of the offensive linemen have described you as stout to go up against. How do you envision yourself and your role on this team?
                                           
For those guys to say that it’s a blessing. You got to realize this is a Super Bowl team that I’m on. For them to say that I’m stout means that I’m doing something to improve the team.”

Guys talk about the speed of the game. Do you feel like there’s been an adjustment or do you feel like the learning curve has been smaller for you? How have you adjusted to the speed of the NFL?

“At the end of the day, it’s practice. In practice you’re working on technique and when you get into the game, you’re in a game. The game speed and practice speed are a little different but you can tell the difference between college and the NFL because these guys are professionals. Every last guy on this field is a professional so you can tell the speed is a little bit different.”

Do you feel like putting on those pads finally gets you more acclimated than normal? There’s only so much you can do up front without the pads and it’s been that way up until yesterday.

“Yes, it helped a lot because my position itself, I get to take on two, hopefully three guys. If I don’t have any pads on I’m not making any initial contact it’s kind of like what do I do?”

How different is this defense here than what you did in college and junior college schemewise?

“It’s somewhat similar and somewhat different. I have a lot more responsibilities. I can do things and if I see things, I can react on them myself instead of just being in an assignment defense. That’s pretty much the difference.”

Have you been this big your whole life?

“No. I hit a growth spurt. I don’t know where it came from. My family is small and wide.”

What age?

“Maybe 15 or 16?”

Were you already playing football at that time?

“No. I was a basketball guy.”

Don’t say point guard?

“No, I was more like a power forward.”

Was it the size that brought you to football?

“My friends did. I had a tight group of friends and they told me to come out. Watching them practice by myself waiting for basketball season I was like why not?”

Is there a small athletic guy inside of you?

“Yes. All big guys want to be small at some point.”

But you’ve been small before you hit the growth spurt?

“Yes I know but you can’t do anything about it now.”

How much do you weigh now? I think you’re list at 360. is that right?

“No. That’s a lot of rumors. Nowhere near that. I’m about 347 to 348 now.”

How’s the food in New Orleans compare to the food in Georgia?

“I love the crawfish. I had crawfish when I was in Mississippi so I’m kind of accustomed to it now.”

You said the word responsibility and you mentioned taking on two or three players. Is there pressure on you to have that much on your shoulders?

“Like I said it’s knowing your role and responsibility. I like having that pressure. I like these guys to be able to tap and say, “Hey you’re doing your thing. I need this”. I’m use to that. I had (Kevin) Ogletree when I was at Georgia who would tell me they need the push up front. I like that responsibility and I like that role.”

Looking at this roster do you feel like you can step in here early and make an impact early?

“I’m just working. I’m just learning from these vets. No matter what these guys have planned for me, I’m willing to do whatever (they ask).”

How much of a role did playing at junior college have in where you are now and how much of an impact did it have on you? Can you reflect on your time at Georgia as well?

“It was a blessing to have the coaching staff that I had through the years of football. My junior college had some great coaches, Coach Little Davis, Steve Davis and Dorsette Davis and Coach Campbell. They all guided me in the right direction. Then going to Georgia with Coach (Rodney) Garner and Coach (Todd) Grantham and all those guys took care of me. Now having Coach (Bill) Johnson, he’s one of the best defensive line coaches around and having Coach (Sean) Payton and (Rob) Ryan, it’s just been a blessing. I’ve been set in the right direction.”

When you were sweating it out at Perkinston, Mississippi (Southwest Mississippi Junior College) did you ever see yourself here?

“I would have never thought, but it’s a blessing.”

What’s it like starting over at this level?

“I’m so used to it. Every two years I felt like I was starting over; from junior college to Georgia to here. I’m so used to it, I’m just trying to find my role.”

You don’t mind carrying helmets and shoulder pads?

“No. I’m used to it. I just want to find my role.”

What’s it like being mentored under coach Bill Johnson? What kind of impact has he had on you so far?

“He’s had a great impact on me. He’s teaching me and he’s not one of those coaches that gets in your face and you’re trying to block things out (he says or does). Coach Johnson understands the game. He’s teaching me how to be a student and showing me the way to be an effective defensive lineman. It’s an honor to be under his wing now.”

Is it a good thing how technical he is with the movement and leverage? It’s seems like every step you take to get to the quarterback, he has it mapped out what you should be doing.

“He has some of the greatest (techniques). He’s been a part of some great teams. For him to be that technical let’s me know that I have a lot of room to improve.”

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Courtney Roby
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

Looking at where you are at right now, in training camp, it seems like the last two years, you have really excelled at the wide receiver position. We all know what you have done in a Saints uniform, kickoff and punt coverage, always amongst the leader in tackles. But, as a pure receiver, it seems like that no matter which quarterback you go with, they have confidence in you, and they target you?  

“Well, I mean it’s just all about work. You know. Just trying to build chemistry you know wherever I am on the field. I just continue to do what I am coached (to do) and continue to push. Like I always say, everything else will take care of itself, so I come out here day in and day out and put my best foot forward and just work.”

Looking at special teams, we all know about your kickoff and punt coverage skills, but it seems like, almost with the addition of Darren Sproles, that you are almost like an insurance policy as far as a kick returner. How have you handled that because you have had big returns in a Saints uniform. I can remember one that you almost took it to the house against the Miami Dolphins. Then you set the tone during that second half in St. Louis the year you won the Super Bowl. How do you feel about that?

“I am a team player so you know whatever it takes to win. I go out there and just do whatever it takes. I don’t really pay attention to who is in front of me. I don’t pay attention that. I just go out here and do whatever it takes to win and continue to fight and do what my team needs.”

Where do you feel that you are at right now, going into your ninth year, trying to create a double-digit year career in the NFL? Do you feel like a twenty-two year old?

“I just take one day at a time. You are as young as you feel. I feel great. Like I said, I just take it one day at a time and just continue to come out here and work. Like I said before, everything else will work out. I just do what I am coached (to do).”

Can I ask you about the new rule with everyone having to wear the pads now, is it a good thing? I mean obviously it is for safety.

“Since I have been in the league, I haven’t worn pads, except maybe my rookie year, and even just then it was the stop-pads. It is an adjustment. It is something that everybody has to adjust to. It can’t be an excuse.”

Is it something that can protect you, or is it something that is just for show?

“I don’t know. If you get hit right, anywhere, it is going to hurt. Like I said before, it is the league rules, so I’m going to abide by them.”

How big of a difference is it?

“It is a little different. Especially, like I said, for myself, (since) I usually don’t wear leg pads. But in college, you have to wear them, so it can be done. Like I said, it is just a mind adjustment.”

Is it more of like a mental/personal thing or a like you feel like your pants are heavier. Do you feel slower? Does it physically affect you?

“Maybe at the beginning. Once you get used to it, like I said, it is second nature. Coming up through pee wee to middle school to high school to college, you have to wear pads, so it just a mind adjustment.”

What impresses you about a player like Jimmy Graham, you know his physical attributes but it seems like his work ethic is even greater?

“I have known Jimmy since he came in as a rookie, and seeing him blossom and just seeing some of the things he has done (is impressive). To become one of the best tight ends in the league, like you said, his work ethic is above standards, and he works at his craft day in and day out. He is obviously a very gifted athlete and everybody sees the certain things. Just how he works at it daily is special.”

What does it say about him for entering the final year of his contract and for it not to be an issue among the team, among the players, and how It’s not news for him? He is just focused on what is going on the field.

“I mean that is just the type of person that we have in this organization. We are not selfish. We put the team above ourselves, and we continue to work. Everything else will work out. That is the kind of mind frame that we have here. That is why we have such a special organization. Like I said everybody just goes out there and works.”

Going back to the special teams as far as your coverage ability and, you know, you have been here long enough, they bring in you guys no matter the position whether it be wide receiver, safety, whether you are a gunner or whatever. Do you maybe keep a few secrets to yourself that, maybe the guys that you are competing against don’t, maybe some tidbit could help them overtake you? You don’t give them all of the secrets right?

“I am not that type of guy. Like I said, whatever it takes to help this team win that is what I am about. I go out there, and if someone has a question, I am going to give them an honest answer. Like I said before, that is the type of guys that we have in this organization. We are all out there for one purpose. They are fast, they have good skills, and they come out here and work hard. I just continue to build.”

New Orleans Saints Safety Jim Leonhard
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

Are you a guy that always wore the (leg) pads or did you not wear the pads and how do you feel about the new rule that everybody has to wear the pads?

“I haven’t worn the pads in nine years so it’s definitely a change. It’s a good thing; We probably should have been wearing them the whole time. I don’t see it as an issue. Guys are going to get used to it. It’s going to be the guys that have been out awhile that are going to complain the most. It’s not going to affect the game. You’ve seen the college game and it hasn’t changed anything. It shouldn’t be an issue.”

Is it more of a mental thing than a physical thing or does it really slow you down?

“You definitely feel them. Your pants are a little bit tighter. Your legs are a little bit heavier, but you wear them every day and it shouldn’t be a problem. Guys will adjust; we have a long training camp here to get ready. It’s not going to be a problem.”

Can you talk about your role here, Most of the attention has been on Malcolm Jenkins, Roman and even Kenny Vaccaro. Obviously, you’re a guy that’s carved out a nice career here and you’re here for a reason.

“I’m not 100 percent what my role is going to be at this point. I’m just trying to come in, work hard and learn the defense and be able to communicate with my teammates. I have no idea what my responsibility is going to be, whether it’s special teams or playing some defense. You just come in work and keep your head down and try to bring the whole team with you and see what happens at the end of the day.”

New Orleans Saints Fullback Jed Collins
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, July 29, 2013

It seems like in the NFL today you see less and less of the fullback. Cam you just tell us why?

“I think a few years ago they were trying to extinct the fullback but I see the coming back of it. Look at the Super Bowl, two great fullback offenses. A lot of teams are understanding you control the ball with a good run game. I think that’s one of the lessons we’ve learned here. With a solid run game you can control the clock and control the pass game and control the game overall. To have a solid run game here we believe the fullback is a necessity. I’m just hoping to keep earning that job.”

Jimmy Graham is trying to take the next step in his career and have another standout and healthy season. What have you seen from him out here with his overall commitment to getting better?

“Jimmy has grown up a lot since he’s been here. He’s trying to make that jump from good to great and that’s a fight and a battle. It’s something that you look at the guys who have done it like (Drew) Brees and (Darren) Sproles and even guys like Pierre Thomas and those kinds of guys that are out here that do it on a daily basis. That’s the lesson that I think he’s learned that he can’t have the drop in practice because that comes out in the game, he can’t dog it once in practice because that comes out in the game. He’s learned that every day has to be a great day if he wants to be great. You see it in him. He’s hungry. He understands who he is and what he is. It’ll be an enjoyable thing to watch a young man grow up and find greatness.”

Why do you feel like other teams have tried to push the fullback position out?

“It’s a pass happy league right now. Big scores keep the fans in the stands and people think if you can outscore the other team you can win. So a lot of teams have looked at it and said the fullback isn’t athletic enough to be a tight end and he’s not able to do certain things on the field. Myself and other fullbacks throughout the league kind of want to start changing that motto to the fullback can do a lot of the things tight ends can do and kind of flip the switch on it. Coach (Payton) talks about it every day, adding value to the team. As the fullback I’m out here long snapping, short snapping, playing special teams and I’d hold Drew’s helmet if it helps.”

Is it a badge of honor that you are kind of the old breed?

“That is. The guy who was up here before me, (Brian) de la Puente and I have come through a tough road. We talked about that, when you’re a veteran, this is year six for me so I guess I’m in that category, but you learn a lesson. A humbling lesson every year is to see how hungry the young guys are. Putting on pads you’re reminded of that and you’re reminded of what it really takes to make it in this business and it doesn’t matter what age you are you got to find that desperation and that hunger inside you to keep going.”

One of the things that helps you is your receiving skills; you see that more and more in the fullbacks. They want you to be able to catch the football coming out the backfield. It’s almost like a hybrid, tight end/fullback. You fit that mold?

“I try. I’m a secret weapon kind of thing. We have so much focus on the (Marques) Colston’s, the Jimmy Graham’s, the Lance Moore’s and everybody forgets about me and that’s when I receive my touches. I think our offense is built around making them respect my role and respecting me out in routes and I think it will help open things up for everyone else.”

What does the addition of Benjamin Watson at tight end bring?

“Ben’s a great veteran to learn from.”

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