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New Orleans Saints players talk about return to New Orleans

Players met with the media Sunday evening

New Orleans Saints Tackle Terron Armstead

Post-Practice Media Availability

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How was practice here?

"We have to get acclimated to this weather, but I thought the practice went pretty well."

What did coach Payton and the coaching staff emphasize today after all the penalties?

"We pride ourselves on being a smart team, not making the dumb mistakes, so just play smart, police yourself, police the group. As an offensive line, if we get a penalty, try to monitor those things."

How long do you think it will take for you and the team to get adjusted to the weather?

"I honestly don't think you can get used to it. You just have to work through, it's part of it and I think it allows you to go through tough times in an actual game."

How difficult today was it with the weather?

* *"This was actually one of the better days (down here). It's important to us because it's training camp. You have to take advantage of it. It's pretty humid. We got a pretty good workout in today."

Does the quality of work change?

"You can't let it. (Zach) Strief always preaches the mental to me and the other guys. If you come out with a bad attitude it's going to feel 10 times worse."

I saw your college coach at Arkansas-Pine Bluff at SWAC media day. I talked to him about your success. What role has he played in your life and career?

"Coach (Monte) Coleman has called me a lot. He's a guy who went through the rigors of playing in the NFL for 16 years, so he knew a lot. Any knowledge he had, he passed on to me."

Can you talk about the progress you made through the 2013 season?

"That's perfect for offensive linemen when you're not noticed. You really only get talked about when you're giving up sacks. If you're going unnoticed, you're doing your job."

How much improvement can you make from year one to two?

"I think I made some strides and I think I can get a whole lot better. You have to keep working every day."

What was your biggest eye-opening moment in the NFL?

"Just working with the offense. Our offense is based on timing, getting the play call, getting to the line, tempo. Just getting acclimated to the timing and the tempo of the game."

What are your impressions of Brandin Cooks through two games?

"I've been amazed with the guy. He's humble, quiet. He comes in and works. He runs with violence. I expect great things from him."

You've gone against Junior Galette in practice. What has that been like for both sides?

"It's been great. Junior helped me a lot last year, during the time I was inactive. we always worked together. He taught me a lot, things I saw from other tackles. I watched a ton of things on my own. I honestly think Junior is the best pass rusher in the league. Being able to go against him, it's an unorthodox style. I have to watch film on it every day, because nobody else does what he does."

What's unorthodox since I know he's taken different things from different guys?

"He has some God-given ability everyone hasn't been given. The way he can move, his explosiveness and lateral quickness is something of a quarterback."

What do you think of him saying you have the best footwork he's seen in a lineman?

"That's big coming from him. I've seen some of the best and I have to take my hat off to him every day."

New Orleans Saints Guard Jahri Evans

Post-Practice Media Availability

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How was today?

"Today wasn't too bad. It was humid out here, but I think the rain showers cooled it off. That's not unusual, but it felt good to be back here in New Orleans."

What did you guys work on today in relation to fixing penalty issues?

"The biggest thing is bringing awareness to it. We knew going into the game that it was that crew's second game and they had a lot of penalties the first game. Coach (Payton) does a good job of telling us what they do previously. It's preseason, so they're playing tight now. It's preseason, we have to keep working as an offensive line. We had seven of those. We have to make sure our hand placement is a little better."

Do you think these first couple games with the penalties are an anomaly for this team?

"No, guys' legs might not be what they used to, so you get overextended bodywise, reach in, grab on a guy. We'll clean it up for the season. It's preseason."

Can you just turn it on in the regular season?

"No, you fix it now and that comes with practice. We still have a ton of practices before that first game. We still have two (preseason) games. Every day we're trying to get better. Like I said, a couple of those plays could have gone either way. I think that the referees would let us play during the regular season, but at the same time, we have to be pros and we have to understand what they want us to do."

Will you play this week?

"I should be playing. I plan to play this week."

With the offense not having Drew Brees, but still getting points and still getting production from backs, tight ends and receivers, what do you think of it?

"It's great. It's a tribute to the work they've put in. Guys are playing well. Luke (McCown) is playing well. Ryan's (Griffin) playing well. The running backs are hitting the holes. The line's been getting their landmarks, pushing. We have to keep getting better. It's still early. We have a lot of work to do. We just have to continue to get better."

How do you feel to be back?

"It felt good to be out here today. I didn't have any issues. It felt great being out there. I took every rep. It felt good."

Why were you out?

"I just had a lower back issue, trying to be smart about it, but I'm getting better, feeling good out here today."

What do you think of conditioning in practicing tomorrow in the heat of the day?

"It's going to be hot tomorrow. There's nothing you can do about it. You just have to prepare for it. We'll get out here and work hard tomorrow. Coach (Payton) was in it today. It will be hot tomorrow. The key is to hydrate over these next several hours and we'll be alright."

It seems like the message moving forward is to police yourself with the penalties moving forward?

"Yes, despite all those penalties, we played well. We got the W. That crew had the most called this preseason, so they were a tight crew, calling it close to the vest, but the big thing was those guys played well. They overcame the penalties and got the W. The defense got a lot of turnovers. That helped. We do need to be precise on things and understand what the refs are looking at and calling and that they made a couple rules changes that are making it a little bit tougher. It's just something we have to pay attention to detail to and be prepared."

What did you see from the younger offensive linemen in your absence?

"I see those guys playing very well. Those guys, they played well, getting their landmarks, pushing guys off the ball, making holes. They're putting up points. That's very encouraging for them to get out there and perform like that."

Can you believe you've been in the NFL for nine years now?

"Nine years, it's not hard to believe, but it's a lot of miles."

What's the difference between you now and as a rookie in '06?

"Just knowing what I can do, what I'm good at, what I need to work on and continuing to grow, adding to the things I can do to become a better player. Getting familiar with the playbook, being on the same page with my QB and center for the calls, stuff like that, being comfortable."

Do you have expectations like that heading into a ninth year?

"Of course, we always want to be the best player we can be. We always want to be good at the run game, average four yards per carry in the run game and put up points as an offense. We've done that over the years and look forward to executing that this year."

What do you see from Marcel Jones in his versatility and the difficult in transitioning between guard and tackle?

"When Marcel came in he was a tackle and they moved him to guard. I think he's actually, it's a little different being on that edge, but he's a big body guy. He made the transition to guard very well and has been playing very well there the last couple of years. It will be interesting if they move him back out to tackle and if he can play tackle. I'm pretty sure it's a familiarity there that he just has to recall and get back to it."

Can you talk about all these injured players returning?

"It felt good to get back in there and run around and get some banging in, but it's good, with guys getting healthy, getting back out there, getting ready for the season and getting ready for this preseason game this Saturday."

New Orleans Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham

Post-Practice Media Availability

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Had you and Sean (Payton) addressed dunking? Maybe one time was OK?

"At the time, I scored and I dunked. There was a little emotion there, but we'll get it corrected."

How do you get it corrected?

"Obviously I would never do anything to hurt this team in the regular season because obviously the game is bigger than any individual player. I'm just trying to win games, and that's all I really care about. Week one through however many we play, I'm going to do what's best for the team."

Is it almost instinctive at this point?

"It's natural. But again, I would never do anything to hurt this team."

So there are no issues with Coach Payton?

"Over the last couple of weeks we (he and Coach Payton) have met quite a bit and talked about a lot of things. That's what makes him so special, is that he has a personal relationship with each and every one of us. He treats us like men, and he expects us to act like men."

After the contract dispute, people wondered if there would be any lingering animosity between you and the team. Having a shouting match with Coach Payton raised a lot of eyebrow. Is there any relation (between those two things)?

"No, none whatsoever. He's my coach and I listen to him. We were having a conversation between me and him, so…"

Was the second one maybe the over the top one? Would just the first one be funny?

"Some people were saying it all was. It's a penalty and some kind of fine, which is unfortunate because I'm not hurting anybody."

Can you unequivocally say that you won't dunk again?

"Well, I don't really know you like that (laughter). I can't guarantee you that, but I would never do anything to hurt this team."

Have you been told that you've been fined?

"No I haven't. That's just the rule, so we will wait and see what happens…which is unfortunate because I just love the game. I have a lot of passion for the game. When I go out there on Sundays it's fun for me. It's just fun. I feel like a little kid out there  and sometimes I act like it."

Was it spur of the moment or had you planned it?

" (It was) Pretty spur of the moment. You can never plan scoring a touchdown, so it was spur of the moment."

Were you trying to send a message to the league?

"No messages. For four years and however many touchdowns, I've always dunked it. I've just got to stop doing that now."

Would you rather talk about this or your contract?

"Neither, really (laughter). No one has asked me how I'm doing, but I'm good."

Scoring two touchdowns, it seems like you are doing good.

"Luke (McCown) did a great job, obviously, with the first team. All of the quarterbacks did. Today, Drew (Brees) is out there and it's good to have him in the huddle, commanding us, and leading us."

What's the new celebration going to be?

"I've just got to keep scoring, really. I don't know, we'll see."

Do you regret it at all?

"I can't take it back. It's preseason too."

Your thoughts about getting Drew back on Saturday?

"Yeah, obviously we're all excited to possibly have him back – I'm not sure what's going on with him, that's between him and the training staff. He's the leader of this team and he's been my leader since I've stepped in this building. We're all excited to have him back and get this thing moving."

Your impression of Brandin Cooks through two preseason games?

"He's special. Some guys who are really good at running those short routes, they don't have that deep speed. He just seems to have it all. Really the concepts of our offense and how diverse it is and just how much demand it puts on the receivers and the quarterback, for him to pick it up so quickly just shows how intelligent he is. He's just a star. He really is."

* *

New Orleans Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro

Post-Practice Media Availability

Sunday, August 17, 2014

* *

Kenny obviously, getting the five turnovers is a plus. But still, that first opening drive, they are putting up points, talk about that.

"Yeah I mean, this is what happened last year. We have to start faster. We can't let them score on their first drive. We've got to correct that. We're working on it, that's all I can say."

How concerned are you guys about all the penalties?

"It's a big deal; it can make or break a team. Today we did up-downs every time we had a penalty. Drew said something really good after the game, he said, 'Police yourselves. It's our team.' And we've got to get that under control."

New Orleans Saints Safety Rafael Bush

Post-Practice Media Availability

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How does it feel to be back in this hot weather?

"It's good to be back home. I think that the weather actually did us a favor today. To be back and get acclimated to what we're going to be facing over these next few weeks, it feels good."

What did you think of the crowd today?

"There were a lot of people out here, man, it was good. I figured it would be that way…first day back to practice in New Orleans, Metairie, so this is what we expected. So the fans came out and I hope they had a good time."

Talk about the position of safety as a whole.

"Well first and foremost, we are a competitive group. We compete daily, and we just push each other to be great. Everyone is playing well right now. (Kenny) Vaccaro is good, Vinnie (Sunseri) has made some plays, (Marcus) Ball and Pierre (Warren), that's something we look forward to. So once you get all of these people playing at a high level, the competition goes up. It's good that we are all playing well. That's good."

Jairus Byrd is back tomorrow. What has it been like to know that he's a big free agent with a lot of expectations, yet he can't play on the field yet?

"He's there mentally. He's not quite back physically. We'll see where that goes, hopefully sooner than later. He's intensive; I think he's ready to go and I'm excited to see him play. I think he will hit the ground running."

* *

Is it frustrating to a defense to start with your backs up against the wall after the penalties, the Jimmy Graham dunk penalty, does that hurt a little?

"Well it kind of hurts your kickoff team, putting them on a short field, the defense trying to defend a short field. It kind of puts us in a bind. We don't want to make excuses. It's our job to go out and stop the offense. Those penalties hurt and we are going to try to correct those ASAP."

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