G Ben Grubbs, the newest Saint, sat down with NewOrleansSaints.com for a Q&A after agreeing to a five-year contract with the Black and Gold. The 2011 Pro Bowl selection discussed his decision to choose New Orleans, his background, as well as familiarities and impressions of the Saints.
NewOrleansSaints.com: The free agency period has started off with its typical flurry around the league. This is your first foray into unrestricted free agency. What were your feelings as March 13th approached?
Ben Grubbs: Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty with being drafted to a team and making my home there and now the possibility of having to leave was definitely on my mind. I just left it up to God and I knew wherever I decided to go it would be the right spot for me. Luckily New Orleans had interest and I had interest in them. I am thankful and blessed to say I am a New Orleans Saint today.
NewOrleansSaints.com: What specifically drew you to make your first visit to New Orleans?
Ben Grubbs: There were a lot of things I had to factor in – winning, the locker room, coaches and location. Location is at the bottom of my list but it is still important to me. When I looked at New Orleans, they had all the variables in the right place. It was an easy choice for me."
NewOrleansSaints.com: You grew up in Alabama, went to school at Auburn and here you are back in SEC Country. Are you ready for all the chatter with the LSU and Alabama guys in the locker room?
Ben Grubbs: I am ready for it. My record at Auburn speaks for itself. I did pretty well when I was there. We went 13-0 (2004) and had a winning season every year. LSU was probably our toughest opponent. We broke even with them. Bless Roman Harper's heart, but we were 5-0 against Alabama."
NewOrleansSaints.com: The AFC North is a pretty rugged division and synonymous with power running games and butting heads with some pretty stout defensive fronts. How would you describe your style as a player, your athletic ability and can you give a quick snapshot of how you see yourself fitting into the left guard spot here?
Ben Grubbs: I think I fit well in any offense. When I first got to Baltimore, we were the gap scheme, inside-zone, hit you in the mouth every play type of offense. I excelled in that offense, and this past year we transitioned over to the zone scheme and I've done well in that offense. I can play in space. Screens were a big part of our offense as well. I think I'm capable to fit in any offense, and to come here and see the high-powered offense the Saints have, I'm excited and I can't wait to get rolling.
NewOrleansSaints.com: The Saints' offense has been the number one ranked offense in the NFL in four-of-of-the-past five seasons. Is that exciting or daunting to a player switching teams?
Ben Grubbs: I'm excited. I accept the responsibility and I look forward to contributing to this offense. Coming here and hearing the coaches and the staff talk about this offense, it was impressive. I told Coach (Aaron) Kromer that the way the offense is here, that's how the defense was in Baltimore. Being on this side of the spectrum and having been on the other side of the spectrum, I can definitely appreciate it.
NewOrleansSaints.com: You've had the ability to work head-to-head, so to speak, with some pretty formidable players every day in practice in Baltimore. Ray Lewis, Haloti Nagata, Terrell Suggs come to mind right off the bat. How do you feel those players have helped in your rapid development to a Pro Bowl player?
Ben Grubbs: Going against Ray Lewis, Haloti Nagata and Terrell Suggs every day at practice, you can't help but survive or die, and I chose to survive. We made each other better and challenged each other. They're great players. I respect all of them and they definitely helped me develop my game a lot faster than it probably would have.
NewOrleansSaints.com:The Saints-Ravens game two years ago was an incredible game. What do you remember about that game and facing the Saints?
Ben Grubbs: Going into that game as far as preparing, all the coaches talked about was how of course the offense was great, and not only the offense but the defense was ranked in the top five in every category as well. When I turned on that film and saw how this defense swarmed to the ball, it was ridiculous. I think that year the Saints were number one in turnovers. I saw it on film and I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew what we were in for and they didn't let me down. We came out on top that year, but I have a lot of respect for (the Saints defense). Seeing that offense play when I was on the bench was impressive as well.
NewOrleansSaints.com: When you're playing against another team and you impressed as you said you were with the Saints offense, does that ever factor in down the road when you're deciding who you want to play for?
Ben Grubbs: Definitely. Of course I couldn't see the future. I didn't imagine myself standing here today, but if I were to imagine any place, this would be the number one choice.
NewOrleansSaints.com: So the Saints brought you in and you really didn't look around anywhere else. Fair to say that you liked the offer enough to sign it this morning and what you heard from Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis, his staff and the coaching staff. Did you feel that comfort level right away when you arrived here?
Ben Grubbs: I did. Everything that's important to me, the New Orleans Saints have it top to bottom. I met Owner Tom Benson, I just talked to some of my teammates in there – Jermon (Bushrod), Jahri (Evans) and (Jonathan) Vilma. I've heard good things about all those guys. I knew that I couldn't go wrong. When you talk about winning, the Saints know how to win. Just the mentality here and the mindset, it's all about winning. The Saints kind of build the organization around character and winning."
NewOrleansSaints.com: Jermon Bushrod is a Pro Bowl left tackle, and you have Jahri Evans at right guard who is a perennial All-Pro. Pretty good company you're sliding into on the offensive line. How long does it realistically take to jell as a group?
Ben Grubbs: Good players, a good locker room, a veteran-based locker room, it all means a lot to me. Coming from where I came from, hats off to the Ravens because they did that well. I think that's why I'm here is because I wanted something that was comparable to what I was leaving."
NewOrleansSaints.com: You've clearly thought about blocking for Drew Brees and working in the running game with guys like Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory. What are your feelings about getting ready for the upcoming season and learning a new playbook?
Ben Grubbs: Drew Brees is unbelievable. We had a great running back in the backfield in Ray Rice, but (the Saints) have four here. The arsenal here is unbelievable. It's going to be great blocking for a lot of those guys. I met Pierre (Thomas) down in Pensacola last year, and just seeing him work out after he was recovering from an (ankle) injury was impressive. I can't imagine seeing him healthy and seeing what he brings to the team as well as the other guys."