New Orleans Saints Offensive Tackle Zach Strief
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
How do you guys feel through two weeks of Training Camp?
"I think we have work to do. We are still kind of in the middle of the preseason. We have work to do. I think that there is some continuity and there are some understandings. We are trying to fine tune things but at the same time that is the difference between being a good offense and being a great offense and that is our goal."
Are you happy with where you are as a player?
"There is constant growth. I don't think that I will ever be a guy that everyone says is done improving. There is always stuff to be worked on. Training Camp is a time to get your feet back under you and remember all of the things you did the year before. There is a lot of nuances on the offensive line and I feel that I still have a lot of work to do. There is time for that and I am willing to do that."
Who do you lean on as a teammate?
"I think we are fortunate in the O-line room to have a relationship with our coach, with coach Kromer. We can work through things, we can figure out techniques together. He is not a guy that says this is the only way to do it and that is how you are doing it. I think Jahri (Evans) too. We kind of lean on each other and figure things out. We are the ones who have to do it. I think I am trying to be more like (what) Stinch (Jon Stinchcomb) was for me at this point. I am trying to help Marcel (Jones) and help Charles (Brown). It is kind of weird, but (I) essentially train my replacements."
Who has impressed you pass-rushing other than Will Smith?
"I think there are a couple of guys you look at. I think Cam Jordan has made a lot of strides this year in the pass-rush game. I say Cam not because I block him, Cam has been playing end and (defensive) tackle in one-on-one pass rush and has been very successful at both of them which is easy to do. It is a completely different type of rush. He has made huge strides and I think he is going to have a good year. I think you look at someone like Martez (Wilson), a young guy that is still kind of feeling his way through it but has all of the physical tools to be a nightmare, especially in one-on-one pass rush. He is kind of the guy that you don't necessarily want to play against in that drill and that is good because he is on our team."
How difficult is it going against a Steve Spagnuolo defense?
"We are fortunate here I think. I think if we had had any other defensive coordinator before him it might have been harder. Last year, we got every defense known to man in training camp. I will tell you this, his pressure packages create tons of problems. There is a lot of unique stuff and a lot of things that change our techniques a lot. Some of those, you have to lose to him to figure it out. Again, we are glad that he is here and we are glad that we don't have to play him because he has been tough for us in the past."
Is there an upgrade in the pressure brought by the defensive line?
"I think coach (Bill) Johnson and coach Travis (Jones) have done a good job with those guys. I think the d-line is playing with a lot more technique. I know Gregg (Williams) was a lot more of just get off the ball, get up-field kind of guy and that is a little bit easier to pass-block on because we usually know where they are going. These guys have been a lot better in terms of their rush patterns, playing under and over the quarterback, kind of dictating more into our protections rather than letting us dictate their rushes and that is difficult as an offensive lineman to deal with."
On gameday, is Aaron Kromer showing you pictures every time you sit down?
"Yeah, he is. Kromer comes to bench and talks to us obviously. There has been talk of him maybe being the interim coach and do you lose that? We are fortunate, I think, we have an offensive line that before Kromer ever gets to us, we've got the two or three things that we weren't sure about, we can look at the pictures, and we don't need him there for five minutes we need him there for thirty seconds to say 'hey, we are getting this, they are playing this a little differently, we are going to switch to a B-block instead of combo-ing. We are lucky to have continuity here to be able to do that. He is with us on every…"
… but you could get along without him if he had more extensive duties put on him?
"I don't want to say we would get along without him, I am just saying we don't need him there for eight minutes. He could stop by and answer a question, we can run up to him and say 'here is what we are thinking' and we can work through those things, fortunately. Also, having Frank (Smith), who I assume will move down, who has been in our offensive line room for three years now and is a tremendous coaching talent. I know that is a guy that CJ (Curtis Johnson) tried to bring with him to Tulane and we ended up keeping him. We talked him into staying. We have a lot of talent behind Kromer too, and it will be next man up with the staff just like it is for the players."
New Orleans Saints DT Sedrick Ellis
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Are you guys catching on to Coach Spagnuolo's defensive scheme quicker than you anticipated?
"There's a lot of communication in this defense that we haven't had in prior years. It takes a second to get out there and get a hold of it and learn what the guy next to you is doing. Everybody has to work together in this defense. It's not an option. For it to work, everyone has to work together. I am happy about how fast we're picking it up and I'm also happy about how the guys are working together. We have a lot of guys that have been together prior to this, but the new guys that have come in are doing a great job also. I'm excited about our progress. You never really know. The preseason is one thing, and real games are another. It will be interesting to get into that first game and see what it's like to go in there with these guys, with the new guys and old guys alike, with this new scheme when it really counts and everything is on the line."
With all the defensive tackles you've played with over the years, where do you rank Akiem Hicks with his ability?
"He's just really green right now, but if you look at his physical gifts and his talents physically, I haven't seen very many people with his abilities. He's a huge guy and he moves pretty well. I think once he gets down the small techniques of the inside play of the defensive line, I think he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. It'll be pretty scary for offensive linemen because he's their size if not bigger, which a lot of defensive tackles are not. If he'll be able to get his technique down naturally with his size and his speed, it'll be tough for any offensive lineman to guard him."
What did you think about the coaches putting you with the second unit?
"I don't know. I get paid to play football. If they put me on the second team, I'll play on the second team. If they put me on the third, I'll play on the third. I think everyone who knows anything about my history or knows my abilities know what I can do and I know my abilities and what I can do. All I can do is go out there with whatever group they put me on and play football. To answer your question, I wasn't too terribly concerned."
Do you think the coaches were trying to send you a message?
"I don't know. They might have been, or they might not have been. It might be a numbers thing. That'll be something you'll have to ask coach."
Was there something going on last year that you didn't put up the numbers that you normally put up?
"I think there are a lot of things that go into that. One of the things is I don't believe that the scheme that we were running last year fit into is exactly fitting to the players that we had, but it's what we needed to do to win games at the time. When you play a team sport, that's how it is. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the good of yourself for the better of your team. We were winning games in the scheme we were playing, so sometimes you keep your mouth shut and you play football. That's part of being on a team. If you want it to be all about you, you can play a single person sport. That's what needed to be done. That's also why I was so happy to be in the scheme that we're in now. I think this scheme is made for defensive linemen to cause havoc and make it easier on the back end guys and I'm very happy about that. It's very similar to the scheme that I grew up in in college. It's kind of like going back home in a way."
Do you think you spent a lot of time eating up blocks last year instead of getting upfield?
"We played a lot of, and I don't know if many people know that, but we played a significant amount of 3-4 front last year, which would put me in a zero technique right over the center. A lot of times you're getting two, three, maybe even four guys on you on any given play. I'm not the biggest defensive lineman in the world, so it was a little bit tough at times, but that's what I needed to do to help this team win. I was happy to do it."
How important is this season to you considering this is the last season of your contract?
"I think that's important to any player who's in the last season of their contract, not only for themselves but for their team to be able to evaluate what exactly it is they want to do with that player. Going forward, this is huge. It will be a pivotal point in my career and a pivotal point in my relationship with the Saints. I love this team. I've been here since the start of it all and I would love to stay here and be with these guys until I finish. In order to do that, I have to have a pretty good season."
From a player's standpoint, how much has Junior Galette grown?
"He's another guy with some pretty good talents. He's a great rusher. I think everybody kind of knows that about him, but I think his mental growth in the game and the scheme and being able to calm down and slow the game down and be able to play and do those assignments has gotten a lot better with Junior. He can help this team a lot with his talents if he's able to utilize them and work within this scheme and play good football."
What does Brodrick Bunkley bring to the line this year?
"He's just a big, strong dude. He kind of plugs up those holes. He brings a lot mentally because he's been in this scheme in Philadelphia before. A lot of the small things with this scheme that we might not understand or might not see yet, he can help out and see those things before we can at this point. He's been a great help in that way. His run-stopping abilities and he's pretty good if you give him the opportunity on pass plays to rush up the middle."
New Orleans Saints linebacker Martez Wilson
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, August 14, 2012
Did Coach Vitt speak to you about the penalties in the New England game?
"I got it pretty good. Coach definitely let it be known to the entire team that it can't be tolerated at all, no second chances. You are going to be held accountable on special teams, and as one of the key guys on the special teams corps, I can't have that. Those were two very key situations that allowed our offense to be deducted ten key plays. We added ten plays on our defense, fourth and ones. We can't have that. It was an experience and you learn from that. He definitely let me have it."
What is the difference in playing defensive end and what you would need to do to become an every down defensive end playing the run, especially in terms of size, physics and weight, where people might run right at you and Junior Galette to see if you can stop the run? Is there anything you do differently in terms of technique?
"The end is more composed in terms of keeping your eyes composed in terms of on the tackle or tight end. The tackle's in front of you and once you see yourself taking false steps, that's what gets you out of your gap. It's not so much about being underweight or physical enough. If I was focusing on a tight end from the beginning of the play until the end of the snap, I would be more aggressive because that's what my eyes focus on."
Does it definitely come down to technique?
"Yes, it definitely comes down to technique. Aggression is part of this game. You get your technique down and then you use your physical God-given ability, you know you can make a play."
What are you looking to improve on as a defense in this game?
"Tackling, running to the ball better as a unit, no penalties. Besides my penalty on special teams, there were another two penalties on the drive and they got two first downs through those penalties. Penalties are one of the things we have to work on and creating turnovers."
Can you talk about the Steve Spagnuolo defense?
"To me it's improved because of how the DBs keep their eyes on the quarterbacks more, which allows the DBs to reset more times. It allows the front four to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback with seven guys in the backfield looking at us. We can get a coverage sack or a pressure pick, interception. It allows all of us to work off of each other and get better as a whole. I think at this point, our turnovers are okay, not great, because we want at least four every game. I think that's the biggest difference."
How do you know when to mix up your rushes. Are you using speed or counter moves?
"It's both, they kind of go in playing a game within an opponent. You also set him up with technique and skill. At the same time, they all know about speed. I use that as my number one threat and then I go into my other things, whether you use your hands or fake using your hands. It's different things. I've seen so many sets. You focus your eyes on how much weight they have on their right leg or left leg and if they are going to punt on the inside or outside. That will determine their move. It's more of a reaction thing too."
How has the addition of Curtis Lofton been to the defense?
"It's been great. Curtis is a great player. He's vocal. (Jonathan) Vilma was too, don't get me wrong, but as far as Lofton he comes down, he hits, is always in the right spot, he runs to the ball. He's a good team player, good in the locker room. All the guys like him. That's a good thing."
Has he been able to absorb everything and keep everybody together with the play calls?
"Yes, as the mike linebacker you have to know a lot about this defense and I would say he's done a good job in making checks when you have to make checks, audibles when you need to make audibles. It's a lot you have to do and I think he's done a good job."
When a new defensive scheme is put in and a player has to buy in it, does it work when you are able to pick a guy like Drew Brees off in practice?
"Definitely. It helps DBs the most. If you think about it, if they play man the whole game, they're going to break down. That's anyone, real-life situations. They get to rest their legs being in zone, like a safety. Then when you switch it up with man, I think it gives more confidence to our defensive backs and linebackers where they aren't doing just one thing, it makes a lot of people versatile. Some safeties have to learn linebacker, where they come down at times. Some defensive linemen such as myself are going to have to study the linebacker position. It varies."
Do you expect the NFC South to be more competitive?
"Everybody gets better every year. That's the important thing. You learn from your mistakes and see the things you don't want to do. Besides that, the team is going to determine how far you want to go. As far as our team and this organization, we want to win the NFC South."
New Orleans Saints Running Back Travaris Cadet
Post-Practice Media Availability
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Even with all the depth at the running back position, it seems that you are getting all the first team snaps. What are your thoughts on being able to do that within the first two weeks of training camp?
"I really don't think about the depth too much. I know we have a loaded backfield, but I just try and go out there every day and execute the play and my assignments the best way I know I can do them. I have to take each play at a time, constantly ask coach questions when I have questions, and make the sacrifices I have to make to make this squad."
How much do you look at this team's history of taking undrafted guys and how much does that help you make plays regardless of where you came from?
"I look at it as if, especially like Pierre Thomas he took me under his wing. Guys like, Chris Ivory and Junior Galette, guys that have made the team, guys who have made sacrifices to make the team, and guys who have gained that respect and that trust within the players and the coaching staff. I look up to those guys because they came in here from square one like I did and they had to make all the sacrifices you have to make to make this team. I play special teams of course, execute the plan on offense and basically take it a play at a time. I stay in the film room and just try to get better every day."
Is it a surprise to you how much they have used you in the passing game or did you do a lot of that at Appalachian State?
"At Appalachian State, every time we went four wide, I was in the slot primarily. I played running back mainly when we brought in a tight end in the game. At Appalachian State in 2009, the only reason I ended up at running back was because I fractured my thumb in 2010, which was my second year playing running back. I also started off playing quarterback so I was kind of position hopping where they used me in certain packages to create mismatches when I got in the slot, from the backfield I did punt and kick returns. Receiver is kind of natural to me and is mainly my first position."
Is it all about vision in learning the running back position?
"Yes. It's really all about vision. It doesn't matter how fast you are, how athletic you are, if you are missing the holes you aren't going to make it. In the NFL, in my first two games, I've always heard, from the outside looking in, they always say the speed of the game changes, but when you get out there, I don't care if you run a 4.1, if you are missing the holes and not following behind your linemen and not making that right cut, you will get hit in the mouth. Vision does play a big part of playing running back."
Talk about your spin move.
"The spin move, actually, I never did it in college, it's just something that I picked up when I got here."
What type of role do you think you will have on this team?
"The first is to make the team. And then probably going to be that versatile guy, and use me in certain packages, certain pass packages, maybe run packages and of course being on punt return, kick return, running down on kick offs."
Do you think being able to do all of those things helps your ability to make an active roster with this team?
"Yes, because it's like you taking a position of about five guys. You can bring one guy in to catch kickoffs, you can bring one guy in to catch punts, you can bring one guy in to be a running back and you can bring one guy in to be a receiver. I feel like I have all those talents and that I can do all of those things at once. I really think it gives me a chance to make this football team."
Would it be acceptable to you to make the practice squad?
"I can't really say. I shoot for the stars. I go out there and work hard every day and if it comes down to that point, I'll just let God make the decision. I will just go out there and continue to work, not complaining, because you know I never complain about anything in life. I just take advantage of every opportunity that has been given to me. If I'm put on the practice squad, maybe I'm doing something I'm not supposed to be doing right at the time. But right now, I'm just trying to take it a day at a time and at the end of the day hopefully I'll be on the active roster."