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New Orleans Saints player transcripts from Monday, Aug. 5

Zach Strief, Keenan Lewis, Kenny Vaccaro, Marques Colston, Steve Breaston and Curtis Lofton met with the media

New Orleans Saints Tackle Zach Strief
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, August 5, 2013

Do you think the defense is making strides quickly?

"Yes, I think it's a lot for them with the installation early in camp.  There's a lot of stuff going on and I think you see earlier in camp that their minds are churning picking it up.   Then when they get a chance, I think you look at the scrimmage where both sides we kept everything pretty basic.  The game plans for the scrimmage were pretty elementary and when they aren't thinking and they are just playing, you can see that they get it.  They have been tough.  There are some unique challenges on our defense right now and that's good for us and that's good to see."

It seems that every team portion is a run play.  Is that different from years past?

"I think you go into every season with a focus.  There seems to always be something as a team, as an offense, as a defense, that you go in and this is the focus of the year.  That's our focus this year and I don't think that is a mystery to anybody.  You have probably heard that a lot that the emphasis is running the football.  So, we have changed some things and it's good to get the reps out here.  But, I think the dedication to it, (and) the commitment to running the ball again will benefit us."

Is this 3-4 defense a little bit harder to run against?

"I think 3-4s are harder to run against (than 4-3s).  It's a completely different kind of set of techniques as a (offensive) lineman.  There are a lot of gaps filled up and you have big bodies in the front of it.  We have always struggled a little bit against it.  It's been great for us to get into camp and play a defense that's going to play it and see 3-4 guys and work through issues that we had I think we will be a better team for it."

New Orleans Saints Cornerback Keenan Lewis
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, August 5, 2013

Are you looking forward to Friday?

"Definitely. I have the opportunity to go out and show the New Orleans fans what I have. I also have an opportunity to play against my younger cousin (Kendrick Lewis of the Chiefs), so I have to show him the ropes. I'll be looking for him and I'm pretty sure he'll be looking for me. I'll be ready to go."

Will there be some talking back and forth if you get out there with your cousin?

"Definitely. But right now I tell him not to call me until Saturday. I'm sure they wrote an article in the paper about how he is excited to come home and play. That made me kind of mad; I'd like to see him in the dome."

How are you feeling after having the scrimmage and finally getting a day off after going through training camp for that period of time?

"Today my legs still hurt. We deserved it. Everybody came out and executed their playbook. Everybody went extremely hard since day one, so that day off was very beneficial. Like they say: it's a new day and we have to come out here and just get better. Training camp is not over."

Was it nice that Coach Payton decided to have practice inside today instead of outside?

"Definitely. He's the best. I respect that opinion to come inside and practice. It's like 110 degrees inside my car so I didn't want to go outside. He gave us inside, everybody executed their assignments and we had a good practice."

Patrick Robinson is back today at practice for you guys. What do you think he brings to the secondary?

"That's a big help to have him back. That's a guy who's a student of the game. He's younger than me but he teaches me a lot. I go to him with questions and things like that. Just to have him back and his presence (is that of) a true ball player. When you get a guy like that back, it helps out the defense. Everybody on the team is glad to have him back."

New Orleans Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro *
Post-Practice Media Availability

Monday, August 5, 2013

What are your thoughts on the Black and Gold scrimmage?

"I think we did well. We had some mental errors out there but we watched film today and we're going to get all that stuff corrected."

How about your individual performance?

"I did alright. I made a couple of tackles, nothing spectacular. I can do better."

Does it make a difference having a day off?

"Definitely. My legs are back and I felt fresh out here."

How much do you like that nickel spot, covering the slot receiver?

"I did it all in college. Honestly, I was primarily the nickel back for four years. I've had a lot of experience doing it so I'm real comfortable doing it."

How do you feel that might change with Patrick Robinson coming back into the fold?

"I really don't know. Honestly they have me playing a number of positions. I've just been doing what I can at each position. I really don't know. We've got great defensive backs so it will be interesting to see which DBs are on the field at one time."

During the scrimmage did you notice an increase in the speed or tempo of the game?

"Not really. Besides the fact that we were taking guys fully down? Not really. We go full speed in practice every day, except we're trying to keep guys up. Besides the tackling it's kind of the same speed."

How much were you looking forward to being able to tackle? Obviously you play at a high intensity during practice anyway.

"I mean we got to wrap people up. I'm pretty intense at practice so there really wasn't that much of a difference except that I get to kind of take guys down. But (it was) not much difference for me."

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Marques Colston
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, August 5, 2013

Are you glad to be back out there?

"Definitely, I definitely feel good to be (back) out."

It's your first day, are you fresh?

"It was about time I started camp."

What is the hardest thing to get back to doing coming off an injury?

"Just really getting back up to speed. Guys have been out here working for a week so they are in pretty good football shape.  That's really the biggest thing I have to do early on."

Did you work your way back slowly because you know this offense so well?

"I just tried to listen to the training staff and let them guide me in the best direction at this time.  It really wasn't a personal call I just listened to those guys and I got back on track."

Is it a coincidence that they have you come back on a day that the team loses some receivers?

"No I think it was just a coincidence.  Obviously with a couple of guys it doesn't hurt, but this was kind of the target date we set about a week ago.  So, it felt good to get back out there."

What have you seen from a lot of these young receivers?

"I have seen a lot of good things from every guy on the receiver core at this point.  Just to stress to them that this is an opportunity.  Obviously you hate to see guys go down, but there are going to be more reps opened up and I look forward to seeing those guys take advantage."

Is this injury a similar problem to last year?

"Well I think it is just a result of (that) its eight years now.  It's just one of those things that I have to manage and stay in front of.  I just wanted to make sure that I was fully ready to go at this point of the season."

Have you been a mentor and talked to some of the young receivers?

"Yes, you guys know by now that I'm not the most vocal guy out there, but I make sure that I am resource for those guys, anything on or off the field.  These guys have done a great job coming in here and picking everything up pretty quickly and it has translated on to the field and they have made some big plays.  I just continue to look forward to working with some of these young guys."

Do you see a similarity between you and Nick Toon?

"Obviously he is a bigger body guy, but that is probably where the similarities stop.  I think he is a little more sudden and faster than a lot of people give him credit for and that is just a credit to the work he has put in this offseason."

New Orleans Wide Receiver Steve Breaston
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, August 5, 2013

I know you worked out today and you probably have to study the playbook but what are your thoughts on being with the Saints? Obviously, they like to throw the football and you probably knew that coming here.

"It feels good being back out here. I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity. Like you said I have to go learn the playbook and keep working hard. I'm just glad to have an opportunity."

You've been in situations where the quarterback position wasn't stable. What is it like to have a quarterback like Drew Brees?

"He's a great quarterback. Just to catch passes from him is a great opportunity. I know the situations I've been in but I don't like to make excuses about that. I just want to come in and work hard and do my part. Just go out there and learn this playbook and get the opportunity to play."

What's been some of the challenges waiting to get the call this offseason?

"Just being mentally ready for the workouts. It's one and done. You have your one chance to go out there and run routes. You have to make the best of it. It's just the game of football to go out there and take advantage of the opportunity. Not just making it there but trying to finish off and making the team."

Who threw you the football?

"I was just focused on catching the football. I didn't even notice."

It wasn't Drew Brees?

"No, it wasn't Drew."

What was it in the workout that got you the spot?

"I pride myself on my route running. I think that's what it was. It all comes down to a point where you have to make it happen. I think I've always ran good routes. Right now going into camp it's all about getting open. Running routes on air is one thing but going up against completion is another."

Obviously, you wanted a gig but when you look around the league were the Saints a team that you wanted to play for?

"Definitely. Around here they play good football. You always want to go into a situation like that. They're going to push each other and no matter what the outcome is you know you're going to have a solid team out there."

New Orleans Saints Inside Linebacker Curtis Lofton
Post-Practice Media Availability
August, 5, 2013

Did you guys get a chance to watch the film scrimmage?

"We broke down the film a little bit earlier today. We still have a little bit left to do. Overall, I feel like we are really starting to come together as a unit. We are not where we need to be but there are a lot of positives in it. There are a few negatives that we need to clean up and I think we did that for the most part this practice."

How much are you looking forward to this Friday in this new scheme?

"I look forward to it because it's a chance to go up against someone you haven't practiced against.  Somebody that doesn't know your checks, doesn't know your plays. It also feels good to hit someone else and to be full go with someone else (besides your teammates(."

We talk about the 3-4 and how it will affect the pass rush so much but how is that for the run defense? Should that improve the run defense in theory?

"I defiantly think it's harder to run against the 3-4 just because it's tough to identify what front they are in. Sometimes there could a 3-4, it could be a 4-3, it could be a bear, it could be an inverted bear. It makes offenses have to think and we have to move and shift around more. I think because we are doing that it can make us more successful against the run."

Regardless of scheme, what do you guys need to do better? What are the two points of emphasis on run defense specifically after last year?

"Attitude, that's the main thing. We have to have this sense that no matter who we are going against, no matter who it is, we have to stop the run and, as a man, that's where you measure yourself against the run. I don't really feel like we did a good job of that last year and this year with a new system and new scheme, we have to improve our attitude."

Coming inside after the scrimmage, how does your body feel after a day off?

"Having a day off gives you a chance to rest your mind and also to rest your body. Get in the cold tub, hot tube, get a massage, and help you get back to being fresh but its Training Camp. This is the grind time. You're going to go through it and your body isn't going to feel great, your legs aren't going to feel great but you have to get out there and practice and that's the point where we are right now. Coach (Payton) does a great job of having us lifting weights, having us get in the cold tube, and helping us stay fresh."

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