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Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Jonathan Vilma post-practice interviews

Drew Brees Jimmy Graham, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma and Nick Toon met with media after Tuesday's practice.

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees Post-Practice Media AvailabilityTuesday, August 13, 2013Are the two minute drills at the end of practice a measuring stick for the offense?"All the drills are competitive, certainly two minute drills are what finish a lot of games in this league.  You get a ton of snaps during the year in a two minute drill, both in offense and defense.  Your ability to capitalize in those situations, both at the end of half and at the end of games, really ends up being the difference in games.  Our defense got us the last couple of times.  They have been good drives.  It has been very competitive back and forth where it's to sustain a drive, you are working the clock, and you are working your timeouts and your clock stoppage and such.  They got us on that last one."Is it frustrating at all that the offense hasn't gotten a touchdown against the first string defense in the game Friday or in the scrimmage?"No, if you are just talking about in the scrimmage, we had one opportunity.  In the game, we had the two drives.  There is a lot that encompasses a practice, you have third down offense, you have red zone, and you have move the ball.  You have different situations.  I think we are progressing and progressing the way we want.  We have to continue to improve no doubt."How important is it for Pierre Thomas to get snaps?
"He's been around a long time and been in the same offense for a long time.  He is a mainstay.  Anytime a guy gets banged up and misses a couple of days, he is anxious to get back.  He's not the personality like most of us, that enjoys being out.  He wants to be with the guys and be in the action.  It is good to get him back."Can you talk about Benjamin Watson?
"He's been great.  He has been better than I could have expected to this point.  Not only just his veteran presence and certainly the way he could help Jimmy Graham in that standpoint, (but) the guy can do everything.  Like all the good tight ends, you need to have the ability to block, run routes, separate, get open, catch the ball, secure it and make plays after the catch. He has all of those abilities.  That was a great find for us. We are lucky to have him.  Every day I see something else out of him that's kind of like, not only do we have a great veteran player, leader and locker room guy, but a guy that can be productive."What would you consider the run/pass ratio for third and two?
"I'm not sure exactly what the ratio is for us.  I would say maybe we have leaned a little more on the pass than the run.  I would say that is definitely an area that we can improve upon, that one to two range.  Typically we have been a very good third down team, but I would say maybe we have been a bit better in the third and long situations as opposed to maybe not as quite as good in the third and short situations.  That is definitely an area of emphasis because you think, man, third and one or two, it's got to be a yard, you should get no matter if everybody in the stadium knows you are running the football, it is kind of a test of will at that point."Will scoring the ball show to you that your group has taken the step?"I'll say this, it's not, I don't know exactly how much we are going to play, but just because you go out and maybe score one time does not play to a successful outing.  There are a lot of things that you want to do and do well.  I would say that if we don't score we will be disappointed.  I wouldn't say that all of a sudden we are backed in a corner, we are down on ourselves.  The expectation levels are insane.  Every time we touch the ball and don't score we are upset.  That's the way it is."Do you think Kenny Stills is ahead of where a young guy is supposed to be?"Yes, he has all the tools.  He is another guy that just because he is a young guy and grasping the offense, every day it is kind of one more step towards a comfort level with what he is doing, hearing the play call, getting lined up, executing a route, making the adjustments that need to be made off of certain defensive looks.  He is a smart guy who has a great feel for the game.  You can see a lot of things come naturally for him and it hasn't felt too big for him.  There are a lot of young guys and you can see their heads spin at a certain time in camp or situation.  I haven't gotten that feeling from him. There has been a fair share of mistakes just like any young player or any guy in camp.  It's a lot of material getting thrown at you at once, but I think he handled it very well."
Does it say something to you that he dropped a pass and then came back and caught another pass right after that?"Yeah, the ability to kind of calm the nerves and come back and make a play, and just kind of settle in the game.  We all get in those situations where you just kind of need a chance to settle in the game."
Are you paying attention to the young skill players that are having good drives with Luke McCown?
"Those guys are going to have roles on this team. There are a lot of young receivers (competing for) spots open for the taking.  It's extremely competitive.  You have five or six guys for a couple of spots so that's always the way it is.  And then you bring in veteran guys like Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton to go with the young players.  It is a formidable group all the way around, but this is a learning time.  This is learning time throughout training camp practices, into the preseason games.  You are trying to get a little bit better, trying to get a better handle on offense and just kind of watch the pieces fall into place.  Who is the starting X?  Who is the starting F and nickel?  What happens if we keep backing those guys up? What receivers can play multiple positions?  How does everybody contribute?  And you narrow it down after that."Do you pick up things that can help you by watching the other guys during these preseason games?
"We always watch film together, the receivers and the quarterbacks so we can sit there and be on the same page. Hey, I am seeing what you are seeing?  This is what I expect you to do. You are doing a great job at the top of the route on this. Or hey, this is the adjustment on that look. Can we see that again?  This is what I am expecting. That's the type of time on task that you need in order to take a passing game to the next level because so much of efficiency in the passing game is trust and anticipation.  I have to be able to trust those guys and they trust me as to where they are going to be, when the ball is going to be there and I can anticipate that and that usually equals successful plays."

New Orleans Saints, Tight End Jimmy Graham
Post-Practice Media Availability
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two weeks into training camp, does the focus change much or is it the same mindset at this point?

"Well, for us, it is definitely the same mindset as it was even the first day. We install short yardage in our empty package, we are still learning and implementing on increasingly plays. It's just like the first day."

Can you address the defense and Malcolm Jenkins posting an interception at the end of the two-minute drill today?

"Well, that is very arguable, because I caught a pass and I would not ever gotten tackled. It would have been a 60-yard touchdown and somehow they blow the whistle like Roman (Harper) was going to catch me. So I would say we won that and they got a second chance. Either way I would have scored."

It seems like right now whether it be tight ends, receivers or secondary it seems very spirited right now. The competition has taken another step. Would you agree?

"With the way Sean (Payton) and (Rob) Ryan are built, we have many, many competitive (team) periods. Today I went one-on-one with the corners and safeties they tried to spur on that, the competitive spirit after practice. Sean talked about how this game is played with a lot of emotion and how you just can't turn that emotion on and the ways of doing that is here in practice with a live two-minute drill. I would say that Sean and Ryan (are) being very competitive and challenging each other very well."

How do you think it has been different with Sean Payton coming back?

"It's been good, it's been back to normal. He is yelling at me again, making sure that I am perfect on every play. (Being) a guy who is always working on constant skill development is very important. It just makes it easier when he is there able to correct things like that."

New Orleans Saints Outside Linebacker Will Smith
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 13, 2013

Jahri Evans being a veteran like yourself, obviously he brings a lot to the offensive line. How much of a leader is he for this team?

"He's a big leader. He's a leader on and off the field. He works hard and he's been playing at a high level ever since he got to this league. He's an impact player, and the younger guys and offensive lineman look up to him."

Will, for you how much different was in actually being out there in the game being at outside linebacker as opposed to practice?

"It's a little bit different. It's obviously a lot faster. You're going up against different people. We don't really game plan for preseason games so you don't really know what to expect. It's kind of a weird feeling but I'm glad to get it out and keep working on it."

Did it feel natural at all?

"Yes I'm a football player so just being out on the field is always going to feel natural to me. Just learning the defense and adjusting to new things I'm seeing is the most difficult part of it."

The defense seemed pretty high following that Malcolm Jenkins interception at the end of practice. Can you talk about winning that drill.

"We always have a drill at the end of practice where we're competing against each other and we try to win every single one of them. This particular one was the two-minute and whoever won didn't have to run and we didn't want to run today. Everyone was jacked up and Malcolm made a great play."

We saw Junior Galette and Martez Wilson back out there today. They didn't do much but how are they coming along?

"I have no clue. You (would) have to speak to Sean (Payton) and Scottie (Patton) about that. I don't keep up with the day-to-day activities or the training room."

New Orleans Saints Inside Linebacker Jonathan Vilma
Post-Practice Media Availability
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

We have gotten different responses from the offense and the defense. Who won the two-minute drill?

"Malcolm (Jenkins) picked off the Drew Brees pass and we won."

Jimmy Graham said the offense should have won and that his touchdown should've counted.

"Yeah…he said should've. They didn't."

How competitive are those drills?

"Very competitive. You're talking about the number one offense over the past six or seven years. For us, we want to make our way against them. Any time we get competitive periods like that we take them very seriously."

How did you feel about the success the defense had in practice on third down situations as well at the first preseason game?

"We like the fact that what we're being coached to do (things for game) and what we're executing on the field and practice is correlating to the game. Granted, it was only one preseason game and they didn't have their whole offense in and we didn't have our whole defense in, but the fact that we can just take the coaching from the meeting rooms, to the practice field, and to the games and have them translate is encouraging."

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Nick Toon
Post-Practice Media Availability
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How did it feel to get back out in a game again?

"It felt great to get back out there on the field. It was great to start with a win. There are a lot of areas we can improve on, but it's a starting point."

Is it as big a deal for the offense in that two-minute drill as it is for the defense?

"Yes. Everybody wants to win. All football players are competitors and everyone out there wants to win and have success, so it's competitive on both sides of the ball."

Malcolm Jenkins made it a point to tell us that the defense has won the last two two-minute drills. It's a way for them to kind of measure where they are as a defense in a certain situation and the same for the offense, right?

"Yes, (it's) definitely a crucial part of the game. Two-minute is something that determines the outcome of a lot of games in this league so it's a crucial aspect of the game both offensively and defensively."

What do you have to work on even after your success in the first preseason game?[internal-link-placeholder-0]

"There's always stuff you can get better on and clean up. There were a few mental errors, stuff like that, all the little stuff that comes along with playing the game. Some of the things (are things) that Lance (Moore) and Marques (Colston) and those guys have developed over time. They have been playing in this offense for a number of years and there are some little things that come with time. I'm just trying to go out there and get better every day."

Can you talk about what Benjamin Watson adds to the offense?

"Anytime you can add an athlete like Benjamin to the squad, it's an asset. Him and Jimmy (Graham) are both phenomenal athletes. He (Watson) has had a lot of success in this league and we're happy to have him."

New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 13, 2013

You made at play at the end of practice and a lot of guys made plays. What does a practice like this do for the defense?

"I think it's big for us. Sean (Payton) challenged us a secondary yesterday, so we came out with a goal to compete and play fast. Guys really answered that call. Everybody has something to prove, especially on our defense. The more and more plays we make in practice to more confidence we have in ourselves. When I can trust (Jabari) Greer and trust (Keenan) Lewis, when no body's playing tight and I know that I can make a mistakes and I know someone else has theirs it makes us that much faster."

Does that opening drive tick you off from last week?

"I don't think it was overly disappointing. Whenever you have a 14-play drive you look at it like you didn't give up a big play and we kept everything out in front of us. They did a lot of screens to their running back. I think the most disappointing thing was on the third downs we could have gotten off the field but either didn't get lined up fast enough or we're a little out of position and they converted. If you can make an offense go 14 plays, I don't many offenses (that) are going to want to do that or can do that. Once we got adjusted to the tempo and got some signals going (and) got our feet settled, I think we played well. I think the goal going into this game is to start fast, start with some tempo and get aligned so we can line up and play football."

We saw a lot of pass break ups today in practice. Is it partially because of the pressure up front?

"I thought we got a lot of pressure today. These guys were just affecting the throw where there's someone in the quarterbacks face or there was a free rusher. That allows us to play a lot more aggressive on the back end. Our coverage has been really good this year. I'm really impressed with our corners are playing and our slot guys. Once you add that pressure in there it makes us pretty dangerous. Especially on those third down situations and that's what we practiced today as well as two-minute drill."

Do you think the secondary could be strength for this defense?

"It could be a little bias but yes I think so. I think we have the talent to and we have the versatility to really make the secondary a focal point of this defense. Not that we are the most talented but the versatility in our room allows us to move guys around in different positions. When you have guys that can cover man to man, that gives our front time to get to the quarterback. That allows our linebackers to play downhill and focus on the line. It makes us that much better when you have guys that can cover and guys that can be versatile and be put in different positions and rush the passers as well. I think the diversity in our room is really the strength of this defense."


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