<span>New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
Friday, July 31, 2009
Is this more of a conservative, football haircut for you?
"I had to cut it. It was getting pretty long and the wife recommended that I trim it so I went ahead and trimmed it."
What was your first take on this first practice?
"It's an exciting time. Being in our home facility and being able to make it easy on our fans – we had a great turnout today – plus we have a great facility. We have two great grass fields that we'll be able to utilize plus all of the technology that we have centered here and having our own weight room and not having to move anything. The hotel is fine and the meeting rooms are great, the food is great; this is where we want to be right now."
Can being at home really simulate training camp?
"That's the only thing about being at the home facility, but it's not like you're going home at night. We're staying at the hotel, we get up early and we're not done with meetings until past 10:00, so it's very much a camp mentality. Your days are full and it's all about football and how we can get ourselves to a championship level."
As a quarterback, how excited are you to have all of your offensive weapons healthy at the same time?
"Definitely. Even now, Lance isn't quite cleared but he looks great. With all of them together, I feel like we have so many weapons and so many threats for a defense to have to be concerned with going into a game. If we can keep all these guys healthy, along with Devery (Henderson) and (Robert) Meachem, we have a pretty formidable group of skill players."
How does it help the offense knowing you have a group on the defensive side that is eager to impress the new coordinator in this new system?
"They're doing some good things and they're mixing it up quite a bit. They're bringing a lot of pressure and playing with a very aggressive mentality. That's definitely making us better as an offense. We feel like we're going to be able to throw enough at them that hopefully it will make them better as well. This is going to be a competitive camp, I can tell you that right now."
Who had the edge in that first practice – offense or defense?
"Whenever you throw the pads on for the first time – you can do as much running and conditioning as you want during the month of July – but until you actually get the pads on and start this type of work, it's always kind of a shock to the body, just getting used to carrying the pads and obviously the heat and everything else. There were periods where I felt like we had the upper hand and then there were periods where I felt like they definitely had the upper hand. I think the competitiveness and the jawing back and forth is healthy for us right now."
It seems like the defense is really going after any loose ball. What are your thoughts on that?
"That's just forming good habits. Even if it's just an incompletion, any ball that's on the ground, they're picking it up and running with it just to get used to that mentality. In a game, you see a ball on the ground and you snatch it up and run with it. I think that's a very opportunistic type of mentality."
You would welcome a few more short fields to work with, wouldn't you?
"Absolutely. Turnovers create so much momentum for us as an offense and also for the team. You get that short field and you just know you're going to score. That momentum swing is huge throughout the course of a game, especially when you feel like you're very evenly matched with a team. That is a stat that typically makes the difference, the turnover ratio. As an offense, the better we can take care of the ball and the more the defense can present us with those opportunities, the better off we're going to be."
Is being back in pads something that will take a few days to be adjusted to?
"There's that initial soreness that sets in and then you kind of hit those dog days which will be sometime early next week when there's no light at the end of the tunnel, as Coach Payton likes to say. He said to not even look for it, there's no light at the end of the tunnel right now. It's just one day at a time and to just think about the next play, doing your responsibility. Don't worry about how many plays we're running today; just worry about the next play and trying to get better each time."
As a veteran of many NFL camps, do you still look forward to these things?
"Absolutely. This is when you are really starting to prepare for the season. This is when you're putting one foot in front of the other and stacking the blocks and building something. This is exciting. For anyone who loves to compete, that's what we're doing right now. We're game-planning for our defense and they're game-planning for us and every time we get out here we're trying to beat each other. Six weeks from now, we're going to be trying to beat up on somebody else and we're going to be a team and we're going to be rooting for them and they're going to be rooting for us, but for right now we're fighting each other because in the end, we know it's going to make us both better."
Gregg Williams said that he gets excited going up against you every day in practice. Do you feel the same thing because of his defensive reputation?
"100%. In my mind, I know that he is one of the best and if I feel like I can handle what he's throwing at me, then I can handle what anybody will throw at me throughout the league. That gives me a great sense of a challenge each and every day. It's a challenge going up against him and obviously the guys that we have on the defensive side."
Have you seen anything exotic or different from his defense so far?
"He threw all kinds of different things at us in the OTAs. Granted, that was just a lot of what's in the package and trying to find out what we're good at and what we like. I'm sure in camp we're going to get the same install and gradually they'll fine-tune it, just like offensively we're going to throw a lot of stuff in there that might end up sticking and might not. Right now it's a little bit experimental. You're teaching the base, core things and you're also trying out some new things and seeing what they look like with pads on, and then after that you just fine-tune and narrow down what you're good at."
Aside from all the swarming in practice, are you seeing a better defense in general?
"That's hard to say because it's still so early, but I can definitely tell you that the mentality and the work ethic and their ability to pick up what's being thrown at them, I've been impressed with that."
What do you expect from Robert Meachem this year?
"(I expect) big things from "Meach". Going into his third season, he's one of just a few guys that I can literally say that every day he gets better. It's a tribute to him and his commitment to really trying to find a place in this offense and find a key role where he's contributing a lot. When you have some of the guys that we have like Marques and Lance and Shockey and Reggie, you're just kind of trying to find your role and your contribution to the offense. I feel like he can do some very big things. We formation people to death. In other words, we throw a lot of formations at a lot of different personnel groups and Meachem is involved in a lot of those things. He's somewhat of our big play guy, but then again, I feel that he's starting to move towards more of an every-down guy. He can do whatever we ask him to do, whether it be blocking in the run game or running the intermediate routes, the short routes and the deep routes. He's getting to the point where he's a complete receiver."
How will getting more balance in the offensive attack be accomplished this year?
"It's finding runs that you're good at – that's the first thing. Then it's making sure that everyone understands that no matter what defensive look that they give us, we should be able to get four or five yards with this run play. That's a confidence level with the offensive line, with the fullback, with the running back and obviously with the receivers understanding who they're blocking down the field. And then it's just a mentality. We're going to get in those situations in a game just like we did last year where it's third-and-one and we have to get the first down to keep it moving or to run out the clock and win the game or third-and-one on the goal line where we have to score to take the lead, that becomes just a will to get in the end zone or to get that first down and that's all that is."
Is there a part of you that feels like you throwing for 5,000 yards was because the team was in an unfavorable position too often?
"There were a few occasions where we were throwing a lot at the end of a game – at Atlanta and then Carolina at our place – but other than that, we just threw the ball when necessary. There were a few games where we didn't throw a pass in the fourth quarter. In the end, we're going to do what works. We want to be balanced, we want to be able to run the ball effectively, we want to have those core group of runs that we can really lean on. I'd love to come out of games where we rush for 200 yards and threw for a buck-eighty and are walking away with a big victory. But in the end, we're going to do what works. There are a lot of things that we can do in the passing game that help set up the run as well."
How crucial is this year for you and this team?
"It's very crucial. To have a big year in '06 where we went to the NFC Championship and really made a run at it, to two disappointing seasons where we missed the playoffs that were obviously not where our expectation level was at. We want to be one of those teams that is one of those perennial playoff teams that every year, we're looked at as a contender as opposed to an inconsistent team that can be really, really good one week and then play poorly the next week and you never know what Saints team you're going to get. That's not who we want to be."
Do you think you're looked at as a contender this year?
"I think we are, but if you look at the past two years, what we are right now is a team that made a push and now we're not there yet. We're fighting to get there; we're striving to get there. There are very few teams that can call themselves contenders every year; very few. But we want to be one of those teams and that's what we're fighting for."