New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Thursday, August 24, 2017
What kind of camp is Sheldon Rankins having?
"I think Sheldon is having a solid camp. I think we're getting to see some of the things he can do. He was a little disruptive in the backfield the other night in the game and made a nice play out here today. Obviously we will get back in, look at the tape and evaluate, but I'm pleased with where he's at and what he's doing so far".
Does he look more comfortable this year more removed from the training camp injury in 2016?
"I would say he's getting back to where he was when he first came in last year. I don't know that he had the explosion and the quickness, maybe after the injury of what you had before you're beginning to see a little bit more of that now. So, that's always a positive sign."
How would you describe Sterling Moore*'s day today?*
"I thought Sterling had a really good day. Obviously we're just coming off the practice field, but I thought he did a really nice job. Sterling is one of those veteran players that's savvy and understands how to play the game. He knows what his strengths are and what his limitations are and he's able to play to those. I would say he had a good day today and he's had a pretty good camp."
How would you describe his strengths?
"I think the first thing is I think he's a smart football player. I think he understands the game. He understands how teams are trying to attack him. That's the first thing that I would say. Athletically, he's probably not in the upper tier athletically, but you could make up for that in a lot of things if you understand who you are as a football player, can play to those strengths and limit some of those weaknesses."
He hasn't received as many looks in my eyes with the ones? Is that because other guys have passed him up or do the other guys need more work than him?
"I think we're in the evaluation process, especially with those young guys. I got a pretty good idea of what Sterling Moore is and who Sterling Moore is. I think we're really trying to get a true evaluation of some of these young guys and where we are with some of these young guys."
How hard is it to know how ready Marshon Lattimore is with the amount of camp he has missed?
"It's a challenge. But we drafted him in the first round for a reason. He has tremendous athletic ability. I think you saw some of those signs both in the week of practice against the Chargers and then also in the game. So, it's a work in progress. There are still some things he has to get better at and he needs to be out here and get these reps and be able to do that. I don't think it's at a position right now where we hit the panic button on that. I think we still have some time to get some evaluations out there."
How do you feel about the depth at defensive tackle?
"I think we have a group of guys who can go in there and play. I think you're always looking to your depth in whatever the position is. But we do have a little bit of a mixture of some youth and veteran presence inside. So I kind of like the combination that we have. As with every position, we are always looking to see how we can improve."
For some of these ends that can kick inside, would that change the number of tackles you would keep on the 53-man roster or is that unrelated?
"I think versatility always lends you the ability to be flexible as to who you keep and how many at each position you keep. I think that will obviously be something that we'll take into account whenever we get down to the 53-man roster."
Can you talk about how you felt about your performance defensively in the final periods today?
"We got two stops in the two-minute, so that's good work and that's an area that we have to improve upon. This game and in the NFL it comes down to playing situational football. A lot of these games come down to a two-minute drive whether you're on offense or defense. For us, our job is to go out there and stop them, so I was pleased."
It seems like in your first full year on the job last year you were trying to identify a middle linebacker/quarterback of the defense. Is some of that your input and what you wanted and has A.J. Klein provided that?
"I think any great defense that you are on, it starts with having somebody that's a great communicator. The best defenses are always noisy defenses. That's always something that we're continuing to try to improve on especially with a lot of these younger guys getting them to talk more pre-snap and post-snap and so having a guy like A.J. that has some experience has been very beneficial and Manti (Te'o) the same way. I think that's a good situation that we're in right now"
A.J. seems to have an authoritative personality. Is it rare for a guy to come to a new team like that, especially a guy who hasn't always been in that role and to be so vocal?
"I think everybody has to play to their personality. He's not afraid to voice his opinion. I think it's good to have players like that. They're going to do it themselves first, that's the first thing where they demand it of themselves before you can demand it of anybody else you have to make those sacrifices too. That's what I think makes him a good leader."
How has Ryan Nielsen meshed and how he's handled his group?
"I think Ryan's doing a good job. You never really know when you get a guy coming out of college and he comes into the National Football League exactly how he's going to respond to that situation, but I think a good football coach is a good football coach no matter where they come from and I think he's very sound fundamentally, he's very demanding on the players, but yet he builds a good relationship and has a way of getting them to do what he wants them to do. I've been pleased with that."
How do you evaluate a guy like Al-Quadin Muhammad who has been making plays against guys who are primarily backups but nevertheless with him doing some good things in games?
"You evaluate him based on the competition that he's going against and I've been pleased with some of the things we've seen out of him. As we've gone through the course of training camp, there have been times where we've gotten him up against the best competition and you're looking to see if you are getting the same level of player against a little better competition as I am against some of the twos and threes. I have been seeing that out of him. He's a young player that's out here everyday trying to get better and improve. That's ultimately what we're looking for is how do guys improve on a day-to-day basis."
You were familiar with Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and an evacuation and do you know what the Texans are going through?
"Quite honestly, I'm going to be honest with you, I had no idea. I was talking to Rick Smith out here and he was telling me what was going on there and I really had no idea because I'm so focused on what we have going on here and how we're going to get better as a football team. But, yes that's obviously a challenge and something that you have to deal with and you have to realize that you aren't just dealing with football here. You're dealing with families too. So, I think all of us here in New Orleans understand what those guys are dealing with and we are thinking about them and hoping for the best for their city."