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Players talk about Sunday's padded practice

Players met with the media Sunday

New Orleans Saints Kicker Shayne Graham
Training Camp Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Can you talk about how it feels to be at training camp at The Greenbrier near your old stomping grounds?

"I think coming from a small town you never really expect something like that and I don't think anyone would ever expect that a training camp would be in West Virginia because there is no franchise here.  You can't ask for a better opportunity to be in your surroundings.  The scenery here is what I grew up with.  This is what I like.  The guys on the team really appreciate it too because they are not used to seeing this kind of place.  For me it is nice to be home, but it is good to see the other guys appreciate it too."

Did anyone pick your brain about what it was going to be like practicing here at The Greenbrier?

"There was a lot of that yeah, and you know, they all seem to think that we are so far up in the mountains that it doesn't get hot.  I know it still gets warm here but it is just not quite going to be the New Orleans humidity.  Even when guys think it gets hot, they have to realize that the New Orleans 85 degrees is really a good day.  It has been beautiful here.  And even today the rain, I think it feels awesome."

What about Drew Brees makes you think that he can play quarterback for another 10 years?

"You see a guy that in relative terms is not very old, but in NFL terms, him and I are both pretty old according to the NFL.  But you see a guy like him, the way he works and the way he performs, you don't see him slowing down.  The work ethic that he has and really, any guys that start getting up in age, they have to work harder because they can't keep up with the 22 year olds, just by natural ability.  You see him work.  There is no reason to believe he couldn't do it."

Did you ever think you would be in the league this long?

"When you originally have that dream as a kid you do, but then when you start to mature and realize what that dream takes to get there you don't set a timeline, you just get there and do well and then when you get here, then you start thinking I want to do this as long as I can do it.  As of now, I have seen myself doing it till I'm 40, but we will see how that plays out."

Can you talk about how you have been consistent throughout your career but still played for seven different teams?

"Just playing for several different teams doesn't make you inconsistent, it makes the job opportunity inconsistent.  When you play for a team where you a filling in for an injury, when that player's injury is healed, it is time to go and that person is back (to play).  So it doesn't necessarily mean your play wasn't good enough because a lot of those teams you don't even miss.  But their starter, it is fair for him to come back and get the job.  It doesn't necessarily mean the team didn't want you anymore, it just means your opportunity was what it was.  You knew what it was going to be and you move on."

What is it like to come to camp and not have a guaranteed job?

"Except for a handful of people, you have to imagine that is how everyone in the NFL is because you have to compete, it is a high level competition, it is the best in the world so you always have to come out and compete against yourself above all and then you have to do better than you competition."

But you are only competing for one job and not a backup job.

"For one job it is a competition, it is not really against anyone, it is against myself.  And even Derek (Dimke) thinks the same way, he knows that him and I don't go head-to-head, we perform our best and really that is all we can control.  So outside of that, it is just a matter of giving your best performance."

New Orleans Saints Cornerback Champ Bailey
Training Camp Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Can you talk about how this training camp is a way to see where you are?

"I think every player wants to get out here and compete and see where their game is and where they can and can't improve.  It is all about finding yourself and getting comfortable in what you do."

Can you take us through the stripped ball you had today?

"I kind of take it personally when a guy sticks his hands in my face.  He tried to stiff-arm me.  I'm going to hurt him. I don't know why he did that.  I just had to make him pay somehow so the best way is getting the ball from him.  (Rafael) Bush, I was not expecting that from him. I didn't see him coming.  All of a sudden the ball is back in my face again, I just got my head up and caught it and then we got the turnover."

Do you take offense to people saying that you are just a mentor?

"I don't really care about what anybody says outside this locker room. It doesn't bother me what so ever and I will be a mentor to a lot of these guys.  That's a fact.  I am definitely a part of this team.  I am out here competing to get a spot on this roster as well.  I do what I can to help them, but I am also out here to prepare to win this job."

How do you feel physically, mentally and everything with this defense?

"I feel great.  I feel good.  My foot feels better.  Everything else is in place, I just have to keep it that way."

Do you believe Drew Brees will play another 10 years?

"Quarterbacks are a different position.  I can't really speak (since I don't play the position), I don't know what goes through it, how his body feels, but he looks like he is a young player.  He looks like he is in his 20s.  If he feels that way, he probably could."

What are the types of things you are telling Patrick Robinson?

"Nothing too specific, anything he asks me about his footwork or where your eyes should be, things like that.  Those are the things that make a difference between a good corner and a great one.  I just want to help him get that status."

Is that what makes you such a ball hog and a distinctive player is because of the nuance and the aspects of the game?

"One thing about corner is, you have to be a technician and if you're not on top of your technique (you will have problems), especially for me being the age I am now, I have to be on top of that.  If you learn that as a young player it'll help you throughout your career."

Can you talk about the difference of guarding a slot receiver versus being on the edge?

"It depends on the call, it varies.  There are a lot of calls where the slot receiver that is going to be helped by someone inside, (such as) a linebacker or a defensive end sometimes.  Being outside, there is nothing good about playing outside.  I still think to this day that playing outside is the hardest job in this game."

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks
Training Camp Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

What does it mean to you that Drew Brees is feeding off your youthful energy?

"It means a lot because it's coming from a guy like him, Drew Brees, a great quarterback.  At the same time, he is just giving me knowledge.  It is just a back and forth thing, I am keeping him young and he is giving me knowledge."

Do you take pride in how well you catch the ball?

"Definitely, I take pride in catching the ball because not being able to catch the ball you can't play. I can be as fast as I want to be but one of the things that I work on day in and day out is catching balls so I can be consistent in that area too."

Do you consider yourself contributing on special teams as a punt returner than a kick returner or do you think you will be asked to do both?

"I feel like I will be asked to do both.  I've been repping kick and punt returns, so it is just a matter of time of where they want to put me and where they feel more comfortable putting me at."

Do you feel like you are caught up?

"I definitely feel that way, the good thing was I was able to spend time in San Diego with Drew (Brees) on our little break so that caught me up right there.  When I came out here I was a little up to par and just gaining day by day."

Do you think you represent the little guys out there compared to the big wide receivers out there?

"We are special. Definitely, I take pride in that too.  Obviously you like your big guys, but some special things come with us smaller guys that some bigger guys can't do."

How long were you out in San Diego?

"I was out there about a week, a week and a half actually, working every day, getting those reps in, those mental reps, and training with him (Drew Brees) also."

What did you learn from these first couple days of practice?

"I'm learning that everyone's smarter on the field.  The pace is not that much faster than college, but those vets out there do this for a living and have been playing for plenty of years now so I have to gain more knowledge and watch more film."

Can you talk about the mentality of if the ball is up there you have to go up and get it?

"That, but he also threw a great ball, like the receiver said, if touches your head you have to go get it and that's what we take pride in, that's what we work at and I just want to make him look good."

When are we going to see bubble screens from you?

"Who knows, that is up to coach to decide."

New Orleans Saints Guard Jahri Evans
Post-Practice Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Is getting back on the All-Pro list a goal?
"Most definitely. The better I play, the more accolades I'll get and the better we'll be up front. My goal is to be the best player I can be every day."

Zach Strief said that you can eat the most on the offensive line. Is this true?
"I guess so. Me being the heaviest guy, that's accurate."

Was it a shame to see Carl Nicks retire?
"I hung out with him a little bit this offseason, so he was keeping me up to date on everything. He was a good player. He still left a lot of football out there, but he did what was best for him and his family."

What is this setup like for players here?
"It's awesome actually. Me being here since 2006 when we were in Jackson, Mississippi…(We had) 48 practices and we didn't get one ounce of rain during practice. The weather's definitely a huge difference here. The weather's actually good here. It's nice and cool. You're not getting beat up on the field and by the sun as well, so you can try to dial in and focus a little bit better. This layout is awesome."

Do you ever take a trip to Jackson, just for nostalgic purposes?
"No. I've never been back. Jackson was fun. As a rookie going into that, it was just put your head down and go. Nine years later, this is awesome too."

How is your facility here at the Greenbrier?
"The rooms are great. It's a hotel to us. We're always in a hotel, that's just part of our lifestyle. The grounds are great. What I like about it is that everything is in close proximity to (everything else). It's not a lot of travel time. When you travel far, that knocks into your rest time. Short travel time is good."

What do you think about the high expectations for you guys this year?
"I think it's been like that for a while for us. With Drew Brees being the quarterback that he is, we're going to have high expectations on the offensive side of things. Coach Payton and his play-calling ability, we've done some great things in the past. We kind of set the bar high. The defense with their play last year, we're looking to come out and be better. We want high expectations, it means we're doing something good."

Last year you played through a few injuries and still made the Pro Bowl. Did it frustrate you that maybe you were being held back by injury a bit?
"Yeah at times it was. Just recognizing it, understanding it, and doing what you have to do to get out there and perform is important too. With the injuries, just getting in the training room and rehabbing it, stuff I'm doing now, just maintenance stuff, making sure that everything is good and just doing the best I can do to be healthy."

If there is a positive about that, Tim Lelito was able to receive some playing time in your absence and is now competing for the starting center job. Can you talk about how you saw him grow through those two experiences?
"He did a good job. He had some bad plays and he had some good plays, but the good plays outweighed the bad. Anytime you can get experience as a young guy in that game experience, you're going to be a better player for it. When I was hurt, he was able to step in, and we got two wins out of it. He did well."

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Joseph Morgan
Post-Practice Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

You always stay late after practice to sign autographs in Metairie and also here in West Virginia. Is there a reason that drives you to make sure you sign every autograph?
"The fans stand out there for at least two and a half or three hours. The least we can do is sign a couple of autographs for them. I remember being in the same position, being at the Hall of Fame Game (in Canton, Ohio). Some guys would come over to the fence, and I want to get an autograph and they just run away real quick. I understand how it is when you're out there waiting for an autograph and you don't get one."

What was the best autograph you ever got as a kid?
"I got one from Barry Sanders when he got inducted. That was awesome. I got one from Deacon Jones; I sat down and talked to him for a minute. He was a phenomenal man."

How did you get one from Barry?
"Well I'm from Canton, Ohio. When they would be at the hotel they used to stay at, there was always a line of people outside. One of my stepdad's sisters or something like that knew some people, so I got to actually sit inside in the lobby where all the guys were hanging out. I ended up getting a bunch of autographs from people."

How old were you?
"This was like middle school, so like 11 or 12."

After a tough 2011 and 2013, and a promising 2012, what can you say about the faith that the fans express in you?
"It's a blessing. I hate letting people down, especially good people like the fans that we have. It's always motivation to just work harder and try to get it."

You have returned kicks and punts during the preseason before. Is that a job you are legitimately competing for this year?
"It's something that I'm capable of doing. If coach Mac (Greg McMahon) wants me back there, he'll put me back there. It's always a competition no matter what you're doing, so of course I'm going to compete for it. It betters my chances of making the team. We had (Darren) Sproles, a Pro-Bowl player, so there was no sense in putting me back there."

Does it feel like a wide open battle?
"(Travaris) Cadet was the two, so I guess there's no one now since Sproles is gone. There's a battle. Coach Payton even said himself that there's an open spot, so if a guy wants it he's got to go out and get it."

Is five weeks difference that much better, health-wise?
"During OTAs and minicamp, I felt fine. I was running and stuff like that, running routes and everything. It was more of taking baby steps and trying to ease back into it. One day I could be feeling 100% and the next day I could be feeling like 75."

That's still the case? Or is it all 100?
"I wouldn't call myself 100 right now. Right now it's still doing my thing and trying to get there. I'm close. I would say I'm like 85 or 90 right now. The thing that I'm doing is trying to transition from doing a lot of the rehab and stuff on my own to more on-field stuff so I can get a legitimate look and see how my knee reacts to that stuff."

On that deep ball it didn't seem like your knee was giving you any problems.
"Some days you have good days, and today was one of those days. I just came out and felt good. I've been limited the past two days. They actually came out and gave me more reps today because Meach (Robert Meachem) was actually down a little bit. They needed another guy, I stepped up and did the routes and it worked out because I actually felt good. I should've gotten to that ball, but the first one I'm glad they threw me in for a deep route."

Do you develop a bond with somebody like Patrick Robinson when you are both going through kind of the same thing over the course of a season?
"Yes. For example, I was hurt, Jabari Greer was hurt, (and) Patrick Robinson was hurt, so we were all working together. You push each other. They're defensive backs, so you know the little feud we have. But you push each other. You try to get each other to do stuff. One day, one of us is going to be having a great day and somebody else will be struggling, but you try to help build each other up and tell them that days are going to be like that, you're just going to get better."

Did you get to pick up on any nuances of the wide receiver position by just getting to watch on film last year?
"That's one of the greatest things because when I first started doing my on-field stuff during OTAs and minicamp, when I started running routes on air, it humbles you. I'm a speed guy and I can't get up to the speed that I'm used to going. I just took that and am working on little stuff like the top of my route, pumping my arms, and keeping my feet moving, just trying to transition better. This is, I guess, a blessing in disguise."

New Orleans Saints Running Back Khiry Robinson
Post-Practice Media Availability
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Give us your impression of the first day in pads.
"The first day is always a tough day, but it's still football. It feels like we're getting right back to football rather than being in shorts and just helmets. Today was pretty good. We've still got progress to make, but it was a pretty good first day."

Was it a fairly physical day for you guys out there?
"Somewhat. It's always got to be physical to prepare us for the game and for Sundays and Mondays. It was alright. It wasn't too physical because it's our team. (It was) just getting us well-prepared."

What are your thoughts on the running back rotation you guys have right now?
"It's been a good rotation. I just try to stay focused on the playbook and trying to worry about and figure out what my role is on this team. When I figure it out, I'll go a 1000 miles per hour."

Do you feel like your pass protection is coming along?
"Yes. It's coming along. It's like day and night from last year. I feel like I'm picking it up a lot more and understanding the defenses, the blitzes and all that more, along with the protections."

You've got to feel good about your camp so far.
"Of course. That's what training camp is for, to get all the mistakes and all the jitters out. It will get better throughout training camp."

You look a half of a step quicker. Have you lost a little weight?
"I slimmed down a little bit from last year, to be able to move through the line and all of that. I feel like I'm going to be smoother than last year. I didn't have to do it, but I've just been training this offseason."

What did you play at last year?
"215 (pounds) or 216."

And now?
"About three pounds different…about 212 or 210."

Can you tell the difference?
"Yes, I can tell the difference. I can carry both weights, but I feel more comfortable now with this weight."

Do you feel like that extra weight was something you could do without?
"It doesn't matter. At the end of the day I'm just playing football. Whether I'm 220 or 205 or something like that, at the end of the day I'm just playing football and trying to find my role."

Do you have more of a grasp going into your second year of the NFL game as opposed to last year?
"It's like day and night. Last year I knew a little bit, but not enough. I feel like this year I'm getting a little more comfortable and understand the game. It's starting to slow down for me also. I feel like pretty soon it's going to be just like any other guy."

I know we talked about pass protection before, but do you think Coach Payton trusts you back there?
"We'll see. We've still got (about 20) days of training camp. We'll see when it comes to game one against the Falcons."

How important is preseason for you?
"It's real important. So is every day of training camp. It's just as important as everything else."

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