Following this morning's practice, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees met with the media. In his availability, he discussed the return of wideout Robert Meachem to practice, today's goal line drill and areas that the offense overall is seeking to improve on.
How was it to have Robert Meachem back in practice today?
* *"It's good to have him back. Obviously he's missed a little time here but he's been working hard to get back and he's been doing everything he can mentally to make sure he was up to speed when he got back. Now it's just a matter of trusting the body and all the physical elements that he's going to need and just kind of getting back to getting the timing down and the trust factor."
What were your thoughts on the goal line drill?
"You don't get many chances to go live for that purpose and typically short-yardage and goal line situations are ones that you can't really simulate any other way unless you go live. I felt like we got some good live work on the goal line today. It was spirited and obviously guys were grinding through it. It was a hot one out there today."
What do you look to improve upon from the first preseason game to this week?
"Offensively, we'll just continue to practice like we practice. We still have a few installs left as far as parts of the offense and parts of the defense that we're putting in and wanting to fine tune. You kind of break that out into pieces as you go through training camp and as you go through these preseason games. Typically in that first preseason game you have a lot of new guys that are out there and trying to find their way through that first game and the tempo is a little different with guys flying around and hitting hard. Then you get to that second game and the first teams typically play a little bit more and then in the third game even a little more. So these next two games will be a good opportunity for us to come out with great tempo and great rhythm, mix the run and the pass and continue to work on some of those things that we've been working on all offseason."
Will you gameplan at all for the Texans?
"You don't really gameplan too much for any of the preseason opponents other than having scrimmaged against them the previous two preseasons and we're going to practice against them again this week so we'll have a chance to kind of get a feel for their personnel and what they're doing. Had we not had a chance to practice against the Patriots – I went back and looked at our game from last year anyway – I probably would have had to go back and look at a few more games to get a feel for their personnel. But teams are playing a lot of young people too so it's a lot of guys that you've never seen before and don't know anything about so you're trying to study on the run a bit."
What do you guys get out of your after practice work that you do?
"I think a lot of it is just a mental edge, knowing that you're staying after and putting in the extra work and how many people are doing that. But also there may be something that you didn't feel great about from practice. Maybe I missed him on a route or maybe he didn't run a route the way he thought he should have. So let's do it right and let's get the timing down so when we get in a game, it's pretty much just muscle memory and it just happens and you're not thinking about it. It's more just reacting to the play call and the coverage. I think a lot of that work also just builds rapport and confidence between all of us and you feel good when you step off the field; you feel like we got better today."
Is there an organization to it? Do you say who needs to stay?
"It's kind of understood at this point. We've been doing this ever since 2006 with all of those guys, so it's something that we…it's like a part of practice. It's just like you show up for practice, you show up for post-practice. That's just as important in a lot of ways."
How much better can this offense get compared to last year?
"I think we can get a lot better. When you look at some of the biggest statistics, as far as offensive football goes, turnovers – I think we were in the middle of the pack in turning the ball over so we can definitely get better there. I know were in the top five in third down efficiency but you always think about if we can just get one, two, three, four, five percentage points higher in third down percentage, that's another conversion in a critical situation in a big game where that leads to more points. A couple of percentage points in third down percentage might gain you three more points on average in a game and that's pretty crucial. You look at all those little statistics and just try to find a way to chip away at it and get a little bit better."
Do you like having the target on your backs this season?
"I feel like we had a little bit of that last year when we were on our undefeated run. All of a sudden we were 6-0, 7-0, 8-0 and everybody wanted to be the team to knock us off. Especially as you get late in the season and you're playing teams that are out of the playoff race and only have a few wins but they view you almost as their Super Bowl, that's their big game of the year. If they could be the team that knocks us off, that's a big accomplishment. So every time you step on the field, you know you're getting every team's best performance and you have to put your best foot forward in order to beat them."