Upon the conclusion of this morning's two hour practice, cornerback Jabari Greer, doused in sweat, walked off to the corner of one of the team's grass fields and methodically went through a battery of special stretches that even a novice witness of track and field sporting events would recognize.
Greer was one of the litany of top sprinters to come out of the nationally prominent University of Tennessee track program and still calls upon many of the stretching programs he used during his collegiate days to help give him a competitive advantage on the football field. "I am just used to cooling down with some stretches that I think help the muscles," Greer remarked, "It helps keep the legs fresh for the afternoon workouts."
The 5-11, 180-pound native of Jackson, Tennessee was signed by the Saints as an unrestricted free agent after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Buffalo Bills. Greer was a notable addition to the Saints due to his speed, aggressiveness and willingness to attack the ball carriers despite his lack of prototypical size. Thus far Greer has done nothing to disappoint and has displayed a knack for getting his hands on, and intercepting passes in practice.
"I want more," Greer said of the interceptions. "I go out every single practice with the goal of getting interceptions, breaking up passes and making plays. That's what I expect of myself and what I want my teammates to expect of me."
Greer also stated that one of the main reasons he selected the Saints as his employer was for the ability to continue to challenge himself and improve as a player. "Let's be really honest," he said. "There are not too many, if any, quarterbacks that are as good as Drew Brees. There is a reason he is so good and that's because he works so hard and studies so hard. So if I want to be one of the best at my position, doesn't it just make sense that to get to that level that I need to work against the best every single day?"
Greer is a straight to the point shooter and doesn't minimize the challenge that Brees and the Saints' litany of receivers who range in all shapes and sizes present on a daily basis. "I will gladly walk up to them in the locker room after practice and congratulate them if they make a play on me in practice," Greer said. "But not on the field. That's competition and I'm out there to prevent them for doing what they are trying to do. I take it seriously and will battle."
So far, Greer has produced the most interceptions during training camp and is a willing combatant for the Saints wide receivers. "He has very fast feet and a lot of confidence in himself," said fellow Tennessee product wide receiver Robert Meachem. "He is a guy that makes a competition out of everything. I think he even tries to stretch better than the next guy."
Greer said the he feels like the secondary is coming together and learning to play with all the new faces, but that there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. "When you line up and play together, things start to become second nature and you know exactly where your teammates are going to be," he said. "That's why we are out here in 100 degree heat and busting our butts. I can assure you that there are a lot easier training camps in the NFL to be a part of compared to this. But, we know we are doing this for a reason. This is hard, hard work. Tedious, tiring and grueling. But, at the same time, are we getting better? Yes, no doubt in my mind."
Greer, who scored on both of his interceptions last year for the Bills, is hoping that the Saints' defense can produce points this season and find creative ways to get the ball in the end zone. "Each day at practice when a ball is on the ground, we are scooping and scoring. It's become second nature and I feel it will lead to some points for us this season," Greer said.
Thus, as Greer cooled out and concluded his stretching, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams walked over, patted Greer on the shoulder pad and simply said, "Keep it up! Good effort and execution out there this morning," Williams said. "Now do it again this afternoon."
Greer shot a smile, gave a knowing nod, and finished off another round of stretches. "Right back at it this afternoon," he said.
Click here for an mp3 interview of Jabari Greer on Sirius NFL Live from New Orleans Saints Training Camp!