You'd have thought a pass was being thrown in Cam Jordan's direction, the way the All-Pro defensive end batted down the inquiry of whether he takes pride in being the New Orleans Saints' defensive centerpiece.
"I don't care about the centerpiece," he said. "I don't care about accolades, I don't care about all that unless it's the Super Bowl.
"Accolades, being a centerpiece, talking about stats, that's all that we do from the end of the season to the beginning of the next season. Once we start the beginning of this season, we'll worry about this defense as a whole."
He may want to redirect the discussion, but it's impossible to steer around the season that Jordan produced last year, which helped generate the buzz entering this year.
En route to earning his third Pro Bowl selection – the only defensive lineman in franchise history so honored – Jordan stuffed a stat line for the ages: a career-high 13 sacks, a career-high 11 passes defensed, an interception for a touchdown, two forced fumbles, 62 tackles and (unofficially) 28 quarterback hits.
It was, for opposing offenses, a toxic mix of strength, agility, timing, hustle, wisdom, film study, instincts and confidence.
It's a potion Jordan has patented during his seven NFL seasons, helping him become the first Saint to have six consecutive seasons of at least 60 tackles and 7.5 sacks, and the first defensive lineman with six seasons of at least 7.5 sacks.
"He's played at a high level and I think (the next step) for him, it would be just defensive success, (the) team's success," Coach Sean Payton said. "All those things that go along with someone who is playing well. So, there's things that we're working on. He's pretty versatile and smart so he is a guy that can play the run well. Also, he's physical and is an active pass rusher."
Jordan said that, partly, his drive to improve this season is attributable to the Saints' heartbreaking finish last season, where they lost their NFC Divisional playoff game to Minnesota as time expired.
"Isn't it because of a season like last year?" he asked. "Because we went to the playoffs, because we fell out of the playoffs the way we did, I have nothing but the highest of ambitions to better myself in every facet of my game."
What that means is simple.
"Whatever the defense needs," he said. "We talk about this upcoming year, I want to be a top five defense. So whatever that means for me, whatever that means for our defense.
"I think our defensive line is star-studded and really, for the most part, unappreciated in terms of (defensive tackle) Sheldon Rankins, in terms of (tackle) Tyeler Davison, (tackle) David Onyemata, (end) Alex Okafor and the year he was having before he got hurt, we add in (end) Marcus Davenport (in the first round of the draft). I feel like we're going to be an underrated D-line for the first two games, and then we're going to start making strides."
Jordan already is in stride, and has been for several seasons. Hopes for a Super Bowl-caliber defense begin with him, whether or not he cares for being labeled a centerpiece.
"Without expectations, how do you hope to exceed expectations?" he said. "You try to put your goals high so you can reach those, and then reach for new ones."