<span style=""> <span style="">Q: Does having three quarterbacks in training camp affect you guys at all?</span>
A: No, not at all. We've all gotten the reps that we would have gotten otherwise. I can't tell the difference in the number of throws. I still think that I'm getting a good number of throws in, not too much and not too few. I feel good about that.
Q: It seems that the defense has had some good practices the last few days. Is that a good thing, or does it give you concerns about your unit?
A: We always feel like we can do a better job and we're always our toughest critic. Certainly if things aren't quite right, I'll get frustrated or it's just kind of a way to motivate myself and continue to get better.
Q: Have you seen any improvement on that side?
A: Definitely. They're doing some new things and definitely kind of making us think on offense when it comes to protections and route schemes and that sort of thing. You play against each other enough to where you start to recognize calls and signals and this and that. It really becomes even more of a chess match between the two?
Q: Can you discuss that front four and what happens with it when it features Charles Grant moving inside and potentially Sedrick Ellis?
A: That's a pretty formidable pass rush. I think the scrimmage this Saturday will be a lot of fun. It's an opportunity for us to gameplan for each other a little bit. We've had all this practice time. We've kind of seen the things we've been working on and now it's an opportunity to go out on Saturday and not only put those concepts to the test, but also just kind of see who can outsmart the other.
Q: Is there anybody that's standing out to you on that wide receiver battle?
A: I think obviously we have our core guys that are doing a great job. Certainly Robert Meachem has come a long way from last year as a rookie. I just see the confidence in him by the way he plays and the way he practices. One more year into the offense and his knowledge is at another level in addition to that he's finally healthy. He was going through that knee (injury) and (he was) never quite 100 percent ever. Now you can really see him start to blossom. (Adrian) Arrington, the wide receiver out of Michigan is our late round pick, he's performing very well. At that receiver position, those guys run so much at camp and it's kind of a brutal position to play at camp because you're running a lot, you're legs are dead. You're usually fighting through a groin, hamstring or shoulder, just because of all the running and pounding. Those guys are all doing an exceptional job.
Q: Is Arrington's emergence similar to Marques Colston's two years ago in training camp?
A: It's hard to compare anyone to Colston because it was such an amazing thing for a guy who came out where he did. I think just maybe the day to day improvement that Arrington's showing, yes, it would be similar. He's showing up a lot on film, making plays, just doing the right things, lining up correctly, making the right split, running the right route, if the route adjusts, he's running the right adjustment, blocking the right guys, playing fast, playing physical. That's what we want to see.
Q: Are there specific improvements you want ot make in your game this season?
A: Yes. There always are.
Q: What are they?
A: I can't tell you. There's always little things that I just consciously work on. I'd bore you about it if I talked to you about it, because it sounds really technical. I know what they are.
Q: If you look at the slow start last year, is there anything different you are doing to try to counteract it?
A: No, I'm not going to sit here and try to make excuses. We've evaluated that enough and a possibility might have been is that camps have been pretty grueling here in the past. I think that last year, you go through that grueling, grueling camp and then you get to the season and you don't have quite as much in you as you want going into the season and so I feel like this year Coach Payton's done a great job of getting a beat on when guys need some rest and making sure that guys are 100 percent by the time the first game comes around so that we are ready to be at our best. Certainly you have to push guys here and the heat and elements are part of it and just the daily grind of meetings and everything else, but coach is going to also make sure that we are ready to go by week one.
Q: Do you like it here? Do you think the players would rather train in New Orleans?
A: I don't think you're ever going to have everybody be in 100 percent agreement. You probably have some guys who would rather be home and you probably have some guys who would rather be here or somewhere else. I think there's an element to getting away, eliminating distractions and kind of putting yourself in the position where it's you and the guys all day long. It gives you that time to bond and the camaraderie to grow as a team and put it all together.
Q: Do you like to go away?
A: Yes. I've done a little bit of everything. In San Diego, we spent one of those years that we stayed at our own facility. That was nice, but I kind of liked going away better because it was a mindset. It's kind of like flipping the switch. You can kind of get out of that zone of going to the same place everyday. You go somewhere different. It's new exciting, it's training camp and that just makes it nicer when you say camp is done, but now we're going back home.
Q: How is your chemistry with Jeremy Shockey?
A: It's coming along. It's one practice a day, making sure we take care of that leg and the injury that he's coming off of from last season. Just as far as us talking and getting on the same page with the concepts, the reads and some of these other things and the run game, I know him and Terry Malone the tight ends coach, have been talking about a lot of that stuff. You can see when he is in there; he's a pretty tenacious player and has a pretty good passion for the game. I look forward to us continuing on that road.
Q: Are there a lot more plays this season going to tight ends?
A: That's one of the toughest positions to play in camp because of what you're required to do. You have some of the better athletes on the field when you talk about run blocking, pass blocking, having to run routes, catch balls and all those things. It can be brutal for those guys out there. I know at the start of camp there was a few of them and we kind of added some guys to kind of make it a little easier for them to spread out the reps, but Billy's (Miller) done a great job and I think he's a guy who's now been in this system for three years, feels very comfortable with everything and he's a guy that I trust throwing the ball to. I know the rest of the quarterbacks do as well. Mark Campbell, same thing, coming off an injury where he missed all of last year, I think that does something to you, just like with me going through that injury a couple of years ago, you miss all that time and it kind of puts things in perspective. Mark's come out with this renewed passion. He's such a great teammate too. My point is that I love what we have at the tight end position as far as leadership, as far as work ethic, as far as being great teammates and guys that are very productive as well. I think that's a great group.
Q: Are you glad that the defense is playing better and that not having to play from behind at the start last year might help you avoid an 0-4 start?
A: Part of that was the offense's fault not scoring points. It's a complementary game at all times. The goal is to score one more point than they do. Sometimes they win 13-10 and sometimes you win 42-40. I know that I don't control what the defense does other than not turning the ball over and putting them in a compromising situation deep in our own territory, being able to sustain drives, keep them off the field, rest them up and make sure they're fresh, so that when they do go on the field fresh. I'm never going to point the finger at those guys. I'm always going to say what can I do to help them.
Q: Why was the offense so successful in the red zone last year?
A: We put a lot of emphasis on it. When you look at the statistics every year, right next to turnover ratio is third down efficiency and red zone efficiency. Certainly that's always something we put a lot of emphasis on. When you think about it, and I know your defense talks a lot about it, it's kind of that bend don't break. We'll let an offense drive on us down the field, but eventually we're going to make them make a mistake or get too aggressive, or we get down in the red zone and stop them. We can hold them to a field goal, that's a victory for us at times. I spin that around and say I know what the defense is thinking now, they're thinking bend don't break, be patient, wait for us to make a mistake. Let's not be the ones that make a mistake. Let's just chip away, chip away. When we get that opportunity make it. Certainly when we get in the red zone let's score touchdowns.
Q: Was that Sean Payton's big emphasis last year in camp?
A: Yes, we wanted to make improvements from the year before as we always do, but you just look at the statistics offensively. The top three are turnover ratio, third down efficiency and red zone percentage. That's where it is. Offensively if you can sustain drives, keep their defense on the field, tire them out, the better chance you have of scoring points. You're also letting your defense rest when they come back out. There are a lot of reasons for those three stats.
Q: What was your emphasis going into this camp?
A: To continue to improve in those areas. On third down, we were in the top five, which is good, but we could have been better. We were really better at third and long, which is usually rare. Usually you're not good at that. What we need to improve on is the third and two to six. That's where our percentage was lower than it could be. Imagine if we can pick that area up and sustain everything else, then we're first or second in the league in third down efficiency and that's saying something.