New Orleans Saints LB
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
While other guys are trying to adjust to this new defensive system, this is old hat for you?
“Right, this will be my fourth year in this system. So, fortunately, I’ve been at it a while and know it really well. I’m currently playing all three (linebacker) positions, so they’re obviously putting a lot on my plate, but it has been nice coming in and having that comfort level and knowledge of the scheme.”
Have a lot of the guys that have been here under a different system been picking your brain a little bit about positioning, lining up before the snap, what happens next, those type of things?
“Definitely. I’ve kind of been an assistant linebackers coach here for the first couple weeks of camp, and rightfully so. I want to be that guy that guys can come to and ask questions, be able to help them out, and give them some inside knowledge. I’ve been pretty popular here lately with my teammates, and I think its great and will do nothing but make us better.”
When you look at the defense that was run here over the last couple of years, it was very aggressive with blitzing from all over the place. Now when fans watch it, they will say, ‘Well how are they going to be able to get pressure?’, because it’s all up to the front floor to do something. How can this defense be successful based on what they have had in the past, since it was the exact opposite?
“Right. In the past it has been sort of an all-or-nothing type of deal, whereas here we will bring pressure but, as I’m sure you are seeing, we’ll bring anybody and everybody, all different looks, all different angles, lots of disguises. So here we are kind of an overloaded zone defense, whereas before, I think they played a lot of zero coverage and just outnumber everybody. It’s definitely new for the guys, but they’ve done a great job of picking it up and we’re looking forward to big things.”
It’s still an aggressive defense though. When you look at what Spagnuolo has done in St. Louis, the goal was to get after the quarterback.
“Right. I think you describe it as extremely aggressive. Coach Spags loves to bring heat and bring pressure, and I think you’ll see a lot of that. Having a great defensive line does nothing but make the system go.”
From a personal standpoint, you were a former high school quarterback. It’s always interesting to see a guy on defense play a little quarterback. You can understand where that quarterback wants to go with the ball.
“Yeah, it has kind of been a crazy journey for me. Like you said, I played high school quarterback so I know a little bit about what those guys are looking at and what their reads are, not near to the level that these (NFL) guys are at. But it gives me a little bit of experience and a little bit of help, but it’s been a fun transition.”
You’ve seen this defense installed before. How would you rate the way it’s being picked up here? Is it about the same pace, on course, quicker, or slower?
“I think I can tell you that Spags hasn’t tried to install this much this fast before. I think that’s a compliment to how the guys here are able to pick things up. He’s putting a lot of pressure on people right now, mentally, to learn their stuff. Obviously, game plan wise, we are going to cut it down and back off a little bit. I don’t think I’ve seen an install this fast, being picked up this well.”
What is it like to come to practice, be surrounded by all of these talented teammates and be able to contend for a Super Bowl?
“It’s fun, that’s why I came here: a chance to compete for a Super Bowl right away, a chance to win, going up against this offense everyday. Us guys in the defensive room talk about, especially coming from other teams, the weapons they have here and the players that they have on that side of the ball…we’ve never seen anything like it. Getting to practice against those guys everyday is going to do nothing but make us better and make our team better, so I’m excited about winning a lot of games.”
You’ve made it in the NFL right off of the bat because of special teams. What advice do you have for the young guys, as this is going to be a very difficult roster to make?
“That’s what I told them. I said when you get in there on special teams, when you’re on that look squad, take that rep like you are trying to win a job. You only have such a short window and so many reps to make an impression on the coaches and to own your spot, so you have to take advantage of every rep you can, especially the young guys. That’s how I was able to stick around. I was fortunate because a lot of guys don’t, and I think it’s because they take those special teams for granted. For a lot of these young guys, that’s their window in.”
New Orleans Saints LB
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Today y’all were able to get
“I think every day it gets a little bit easier for us. On the defense, we are starting to sync up and really understand what Spags (Spagnuolo) is asking out of each defense that he is calling.”
It looked like the offense really knew what was coming today?
“Yeah, I think we tried to scheme it up today. They’ve been getting a pretty good beat on us. So we threw in some things, just a couple of wrinkles to keep them on their toes.”
Are you enjoying the new defense that is being put in here?
“It’s a defense for linebackers to come down here and make plays. He (Spagnuolo) asks a lot of us. I think as a linebacker core, we are really advanced right now. We’re pretty much doing everything he is asking of us.”
Are you very dependent on that front four?
“In certain situations we are banking on the upfront pressure. It is just a gap sound defense. Everybody has a role. For us right now we are just doing our one eleventh. Everybody is just kind of learning their role in the defense and trying to master that.”
How different is this from what you played in last year?
“It is a lot different. This defense right here for the Will linebacker in my position is a downhill aggressive type defense. In Seattle, I was more of a fix all kind of guy. Just kind of scraping over the top and making everything right.”
As a linebacker is that a role you prefer to play?
“For sure. That is the role that linebackers dream of. That is how you make plays.”
From a different stand point, what is it like coming out of TCU to now?
“It’s a lot different. It is way more advanced. You have to study. It’s like taking a test every time you go out to the field. You have to know how your opponent is trying to attack you and its helping us out a lot going against Drew (Brees). You aren’t going to find a better offense to get some practice against than Drew. He is going to mix it up for you.”
You have a lot of family in east Texas, Shreveport and all over, are you turning them into Saints fans?
“They are already loving it.”
Can you talk about joining a contender for a Super Bowl?
“It makes a difference. You feel like going into the season, it’s not a rebuild. It is a team that has a formula of success. It’s coming in and being a part of that defense. When you have an offense like us, it makes your job a lot better. You can go out there and just know that everybody is counting on everybody.”
New Orleans Saints WR
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
How are you feeling right now?
“I am feeling good right now. It is still early obviously. So far I have been doing well. Hopefully I can just continue to stay healthy and come out here and continue to make plays.”
What are the things you have worked on this offseason to prepare for the upcoming season?
“I already know the system, I have been in this going into my fifth year right now, so the main thing I was trying to work on was my lower half. (I wanted) to get my legs stronger just to endure camp. Camp is a grind.”
Talk about your chemistry with the quarterback staff.
“I think I have always had pretty good chemistry, I just didn’t get too many opportunities. Now that I am getting more of an opportunity, you are kind of seeing the chemistry I have had the past couple of years.”
Does your time here show that the Saints and the coaching staff have faith in you?
“Yes. That is one of the main reasons I chose to stay here when I had some opportunities to go elsewhere. They have kept me here and I haven’t really played much. They wanted to keep me around. We have had a lot of good competition come in here and I have been competing with a lot of good wide receivers. For them to keep me here, it shows they have confidence in me and they want to keep me here.”
With Robert Meachem gone, how is this camp different than in the past?
“The main reason is that I am getting in there with the first group now as opposed to before. Now I am getting in there and working with Drew (Brees) and we are getting our timing worked out a little more. It is just me getting an opportunity to come out here with the first team and make plays.”
Do you feel that injury is the only thing that can keep you off this squad this season?
“That is what I say. I know the things that I can do. As long as I stay healthy I think I can go out here and continue to make plays every day. As long as I stay healthy, I figure that I have a good shot of getting a roster spot.”
Are you tired of being patient?
“I am always tired of being patient. Just being a competitor, I always want to be out there. You always want to be out there and playing and showing everybody the things that you can do. I have been patient and I think this is my time now.”
What has made you stay with the Saints even when being offered other opportunities?
“The main reason is that I knew that they wanted me here. I like the guys here. I have always had good chemistry. We had a great wide receivers room. Like I have heard (Marques) Colston say before, it is a brotherhood. I just love those guys so much. I love the offense here. I love the system. As a wide receiver, what better system could you want to be in? That is partly why I chose to stay here.”
“For a guy his size, he runs great routes and has great hands. The main thing that I notice, for a guy his size, he gets in and out of his breaks real well. He is a smart guy. He is picking up everything real fast. He doesn’t make mental mistakes out there. He might drop a ball here or there but we all do that from time-to-time. The guy is a real smart guy, he is real sharp out there.”
Has Drew Brees ever taken you aside to provide motivating words?
“Not really. For the most part, I have been doing well so far. He hasn’t really had to say too much.”
Over the past few years while you were being patient?
“It was just kind of expected. He didn’t have to say much just because I knew going in that I was behind those guys. There was not too much to be said, it was just me going out there and fighting every day and just keep playing football.”
Are you approaching this as a last shot?
“I approach camp the same way every year. It is always a make-or-break year for me not being a starter. For anybody who is not a starter, you have to go in here year in and year out and show every year in the camp the things that you can do. That is how I look at it. I always put pressure on myself because that makes me perform better. I look at it the same as the past three or four years.”
New Orleans Saints DE
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Your role could expand quite a bit with
“Right now, I’m just trying to get better. I’ll find out exactly what my role is when Will’s not able to play those first four games. My job is to step up. I just need to step up well.”
Is the new defensive scheme a d-lineman friendly scheme?
“Without a doubt, it’s very d-line friendly, especially with the linebackers coming down here as quickly as they are. They’re definitely helping us out up front.”
Can you talk about the defensive line’s need to get more pressure this year?
“I believe with the talent we have on the defensive line, we’re going to do our job. Right now, we’re just trying to prepare to be the best. I believe we’re definitely going to do that. They’re expecting a lot from us up front, and I believe we’re going to achieve that.”
“Definitely, we move pretty much side-to-side. It definitely gives us a chance to show our athleticism and how we can get upfield, so I definitely think it will help us in the long run.”
Is this a system where you guys are trying to create disguise and try to get to the quarterback from a different angle?
“We definitely have our own gaps that we need to attack, but up front after we attack that gap that we have, it is going to be a hard time trying to block us.”