New Orleans Saints Safety Marcus Ball
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
What was it like for your final practice at the Greenbrier?
"It's surprising to get this kind of weather but we don't let that dictate how we take the field. We take the field with the mindset of getting better each day and winning the day. I believe we did that. We got better today as a team, but there is still room to get better."
How anxious are you for the first game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and what are your expectations for it?
"They go up each and every day, expectations speaking of. Every day it is a different story from a different player or a different coach, a different person in the organization telling us or telling me what to expect or what kind of things to look out for and look forward to. It is on the up and up. I am looking forward to it though."
Do you feel like you have raised a few eyebrows at camp?
"That I don't know. I can only hope to get better each and every day and give the coaches what they've asked of me and do what I have to do to improve myself and be the best I can be for my team."
That o-line drill was pretty lively. Do you enjoy that?
"Absolutely, that's defense. That's our bread and butter. That's when we know there are no games, it's all downhill, and it's all serious. With guys like C-Lo (Curtis Lofton) and Akiem (Hicks) and Cam (Jordan) and Junior (Galette) leading the group, the intensity just rises with those kind of guys out there."
Was there any excitement out here being the last day at the Greenbrier?
"Honestly, it has not even been said. We just want to come out here and be better than we were yesterday. Nobody is talking about the last day this, the last day that, it is the focus of coming out here and winning the practice."
Were you unhappy with your performance at OTAs?
"I'm a heavy critic on myself. I always want to be the best I can be possibly. Coming into OTAs, coaches threw the book at me and they expected me to learn and pick it up fairly quickly. I didn't pick it up as quickly as I wanted to. I was decent I guess you could say. Coach (Payton) didn't say I was too bad, but I know for a fact that I can be better."
This is one of those, I'm not thinking as much, just playing?
Can you walk us through your football career?
"Coming out of high school I signed with Florida State. I spent two seasons down there. I ended up transferring out and went to a junior college, Pearl River in Mississippi. I spent a year there, got my grades right and ended up at the University of Memphis. I ended up graduating from Memphis. I didn't get a shot coming out of Memphis. The lockout hit. I spent the year off and got a shot at a Canadian open tryout. I went up there and I guess I gave them what they wanted to see. They offered me a contract and that's kind of been how it started."
How different is it playing in the CFL than the NFL?
"Football is football. It all correlates to each other. It's a little different. It is 12 guys (on offense, defense and special teams). It is three down football instead of four. The end zone's a lot bigger and like you said, the field's a lot wider. But once the ball is snapped you kind of erase all of that out of your memory, you just want to win your one-on-one battle."
Making the transition from linebacker in the CFL to safety, has that been difficult?
"Honestly, it is all about playing football. I'll play any position the coach asks me to. He could put me on the line. He could put me on back end, it doesn't matter. Once coach (Payton) tells me what to do and shows me or tells me the Xs and Os and details about it, I just go out there and try to be my best at that."
What do you want to tell the fans at home?
New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Nick Toon
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
How would you describe that goal line period today? Pretty lively, huh?
"Yes, it's an interesting period. It's a crucial part of the game, (and) always fun to watch for the (wide) receivers. We're not involved in that part, but it's fun to watch. It's a good, competitive period, just getting ready to play."
How do you sum up the three weeks you've been here practicing at the Greenbrier?
"It's been great. The facilities have been awesome. That staff and all the people who made this happen did a great job. It's nice to be in this cooler weather. Heading back to New Orleans (to get) back in that heat (will be a challenge). It's been great, we've just got to keep building off this (momentum)."
Are you excited to get back to New Orleans?
"Yes. I had a great time here, but I'm ready to get home and get back to work at home."
On a third and six or third and four, when you only get two yards, are you frustrated with not getting the first down on that play?
"Definitely. The name of the game is getting first downs and touchdowns. When you're not able to convert, it's hard and frustrating as an offense. One of our points of emphasis in the receiver's room this year is yards after the catch. That's something we've got to continue to work on in the preseason and continue to build on that going into the regular season. It's definitely something we'll continue to work on."
Being in practice not working with Drew (Brees), how much of a timing difference does that make for you? For you to be ready, you've got to work with him at least a certain amount, right?
"We got a lot of good work at the beginning of camp. The most important part is Drew's health and getting him healthy for the regular season. The other positive side of that is to get the other guys some work because you never know what happens. It's a lot of good work for Ryan (Griffin) and Luke (McCown) and the other guys. Obviously we're excited to get Drew back, and we'll be good to go and ready to roll."
It doesn't slow your timing down at all, not having him?
"Obviously it's different with every person. No two people are the same. I'm going to do what I'm going to do; other receivers are going to do what they're going to do. Let the quarterbacks take care of their jobs, and the rest will take care of itself. Timing is important, but it's something that we'll have plenty of time to work on when he gets back."
Do you feel like you and Drew Brees have really gotten on the same page? Early in camp it seemed like you two really had developed good chemistry.
"Yes. It's just repetition and consistency. Him trusting me, and me being consistent in my routes. It's definitely something we built off of from last year. It's something you build on from year to year: chemistry, trust, and repetition comes with time."
How do you feel leaving here at this point in training camp?
"I feel great. Obviously training camp's a grind and you get a little bit of training camp legs, but my body feels great. I'm excited to get going with this preseason and get ready for the regular season."
Have you started to notice how you're playing the defensive backs with this contact emphasis outside of five yards? Have you noticed much change from your standpoint?
"The biggest change for me was from college level to the professional level. The defensive backs just can't do as much as they could in college. That's something I try not to worry about. If there's a penalty, the refs are going to make a call but I've got to run my route, get to where I'm supposed to get to, and catch the ball. If there's a flag, there's a flag, but you've got to play through that kind of stuff."
It gives you guys more freedom of movement doesn't it?
"It definitely makes our job a little bit easier and puts a little bit of stress on the defensive backs. Everybody out here is such a tremendous athlete, it just makes for a more entertaining game."
Sum up this experience from the fans, to playing, everything.
"It's hard to beat this. The facilities Mr. Justice put together for us and the hospitality that we've been shown in West Virginia by the local fans and people traveling from all over the country, that's awesome. Our fan base is the best in the country. (It's) Hard to beat it, and we're blessed to have this opportunity to come up here and partake in training camp in this situation."
What do you want to say to the New Orleans fans waiting for you back home?
"We're ready to come home. We're ready to come home and get back to the local crowd so they can come out and check out practice, get back in the dome and hopefully get this W on Friday."
New Orleans Saints Guard Ben Grubbs
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
How did you feel in terms of your team work today?
"I was able to get a couple of periods in. Everything felt good enough for me to give it a go (at practice today). I'm not 100 percent (yet), but I'm working towards that and I'm confident I'll get there."
What exactly was it that kept you out?
"Just my lower back. It's been giving me problems. I've been getting treatments and do a lot of therapy. I'm doing well."
Were those goal line drills fun?
"Yes, anytime we're competing against the defense, it's a fun time. I think that we scored twice. They didn't give us that last one. The (Saints) defense is a great defense. We have a lot of great guys over there. We knew that we had to bring it as an offense. We know we have to challenge them each and every day and we do the same thing. It was a good day."
How do you score one-and-a-half times? Was that a defensive win?
"No (laughter). One-and-a-half. You can't tell? I think everybody's waiting for the film review. I think that we got in. Right now I'm giving us a tie."
How would you sum up this whole three weeks here?
"I think we accomplished everything we set out to accomplish when we got here. The weather has been great. We've been able to focus on practicing out here rather than dreading the heat, so I think that the coaches have done a great job of getting us prepared everyday to come to work and we've been enjoying it. It's been a wonderful time. I'm going to hate to leave. I'm missing my family though, so I'm looking forward to getting back home. It's been quite an experience."
Do you think you will play Friday or wait a week?
"I'm not sure yet. Honestly we haven't talked about that. I'm just going day-to-day."
Are you not as worried about missed practice time because you are a veteran?
"No, I don't look at it that way. I know that each rep is very valuable. I know even though I'm a veteran and even though I've played in a lot of games, I think that preparation is the key and I understand that I need to be out there and that's what I'm working towards."
You were plenty comfortable with the timetable?
"Yes, as the days go on, I understand that we're getting closer to the season. We do have time and I'm blessed to say that and I'm confident that as time continues, my body will heal."
Nothing like easing you back in with a goal line drill?
"Goal line live, they eased me back (laughter). I didn't have any problems out there."
How do you feel about going back to a much more humid practice environment?
"It's going to be a transition and I'm not looking forward to it, but I understand we're going to go back and work just like any other year."
Can you talk about the guys that filled in for you when you were out? You were really a mentor to them?
"Yes, standing back there I see a lot. Looking from that perspective, I'm able to give a little more feedback to the guys who have questions. Thankfully the guys were able to live up to it. Hopefully my experience can help them out with some of the things they need help with. I don't take that for granted."
Are you ready to be back in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?
"I can't wait to be back in the Dome."
Are guys more comfortable this year with the zone blocking scheme?
"Yes, I think we are much better than we were last year. We understand what the coaches want. As far as an offensive unit, I think we're all on the same page."
What's the difference between zone blocking and man blocking?
"You get the defense going from sideline to sideline. It wears them down. Right now, in the NFL, most offenses are transitioned to the zone scheme. If you can have a great offensive outside zone scheme, then it opens up the door for a lot more plays."
Is that good for the running game?
"We all have bought into what we are being taught and we are just trying to be the best offense we can be and improve each and every day."
Can you discuss the improvement of the running game late in the season?
"We really didn't have our own film to go off of, so I think the biggest difference this year is we have the film from last year to see the mistakes we made and correct them."