New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees*
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Thursday, August 17, 2017*
Hoping the Chargers would stay in San Diego and the memories you have from your tenure with them, are feelings about being here practicing with the LA Chargers in Orange Country surreal for you?
"It is still Southern California. I think it seemed to be a business decision and as you move up here, we are not in L.A., we're in Orange County so there are obviously a ton of people in this area, you have a huge fan base here that I am sure you are trying to capture. There is a good crowd and obviously this is a huge venue to hold that (training camp). It is nice for us to get out of the humidity in New Orleans, as a lot of our media people could tell you. It's 100 degrees' heat index there right now. This is great. It allows us to get a lot of work done. You get to practice against a team that's going to give you different looks than what you've been going up against in training camp. It's a good measuring stick for where we are and where we want to go. Just the opportunity to compete against some different looks and a different team".
Thoughts on the level of execution today at practice?
"I didn't think we were real sharp today. We'll go and look at the tape and, as there always is, there's always things that you want to correct and work on. (I) Can't say much until we go look at that. But just the way that it felt, it didn't really feel like we had a whole lot of tempo or rhythm. It just didn't feel like it was real sharp".
You mentioned the fact that it gives you the opportunity to compete against another team, how much would you say that affected how you wanted to run the offense or even how the defense played today?
"There are times where we are split up and we're going against their defense on one field and their offense is going against our defense on another field, it is not until you go to the team period and you do that on one field. You are trying to work a bunch of different situations. You are working on moving the ball in first down or second down and then you go to third period, then a red zone period. Again, you are just trying to get different looks. Trying to get your stuff. Inevitably, you're going to see things you have not seen before or talked about. Especially now that we have some new guys up front. We are still building the rapport and creating the lines of communication. These are great reps for us. These are great opportunities to see and rep against a bunch of different looks".
With some of those young guys up front, is getting some of the protection set an issue for the offense?
"I would not say it is an issue, I think those guys are battling. I think they are doing a great job. Things come up where it is like 'I have not seen that before. This is the call we are going to make. This is what we are looking to achieve.' That is part of the learning process".
Can that be a silver lining, maybe when things don't go perfect and you have some of those coachable moments?
"Absolutely, that's what training camp is for. You get used to practicing against your guys, so you feel like you've got that down, the looks that you're seeing. Then once you go play a new team, especially a team where we didn't scout these guys or go through a week of preparation against these guys. We showed up today for the first time and it's like here's their personnel and here's the looks that we're getting and this is the stuff they've been working on in training camp that nobody has really seen yet. It gives a chance to get a lot of good reps".
Are you surprised by the number of Saints fans and people yelling and screaming for you and the team?
"Yes, I'm wondering where they came from. Are they all SoCal folks or did they come all the way out here from New Orleans? I don't know. But the Who Dat Nation's everywhere".
Can these practices be as beneficial as the games sometimes?
"I would say they are more beneficial than the preseason games because you get a lot of reps. Who knows how many reps we will receive in this game? But we're going to get a heck of a lot more reps doing this than we will during the game. And again, there is no guarantee that you are going to get certain situations in the game, like two-minute. We are probably not going to get a two-minute drive as the first group in this game but we got two two-minute drills today. You get a bunch of third down reps and a bunch of red zone reps. It's all good stuff".
As a younger player how much stuff would have bothered you, as now it's just a tough practice and you just move on?
"There's still that competitive edge where you want every rep to be really sharp and good and when it's not you get upset about that but I think I know how to fix it. I know how to fix it and I know where we are in the process too. I think that is another thing. I understand that a lot of this stuff is good, it's good that it's happening. It's good that we have a chance to look at it and learn from it".
By the time you started working with Antonio (Gates), he had already started getting his footing in this league, what kind of growth did you see from him as he's moved his way up the record books where he is going to catch more touchdowns than any other tight end? How is he able to do that what can you see in his growth?
"I just feel blessed that I had a chance to throw a few of them to him. We had some great years together in '04 and '05. It's funny because we chatted for about five minutes during one of the special teams periods about him coming in in '03 as really just a basketball player. His transformation in becoming an NFL tight end, it's amazing because he said at one point it clicked for him that he was just going to play tight end like he played basketball, posting up and just the same type of moves and the way that he would get open on the court is the way that he was going to get open as a tight end. In the beginning it was revolutionary. Nobody was really doing that and nobody was teaching that. When he'd do it in practice he'd get yelled at and now he is the standard. He is the example by which every other tight end would want to run those routes. I am sure a lot of coaches are pulling up Antonio Gates tape and using it as a teaching tape for their young tight ends. And he's had the opportunity to obviously work with a lot of tight ends that come in this league and they're looking at him like he is the gold standard because he is. It is just amazing to see how far we have come since 2003. This will be my 17th year and his 15th year. That's pretty wild".
Does he attack the ball?
"That was always the way I described (Gates). He attacks the ball. He'd go get it. I'd say that's from his basketball days. He's such a great athlete and so instinctive. He's a big-time player and has been doing for it a long time. I think he's one touchdown away from having more touchdowns than any other tight end in NFL history. That is crazy."
What do you remember about the flag football game that you coached against his kids (Philip Rivers)?
"Yes. His oldest son Gunner, who's nine. He's the quarterback of their flag football team. Then my son Baylen who's eight and has his flag team. They're in different leagues, but I think we both had a bye week at the same time so we said, hey look, let's just get together and scrimmage. We met in this neighborhood. Imagine the common ground in New Orleans on St. Charles that's where we were having a flag football game. It was seriously just like that. Houses on both sides and we're in the common grounds. Philip was off to the side, but he was giving Gunner some tips but they were coached by some other guys. I am really the assistant coach for my son's team, but I am out there helping with the defense. After the game, we kind of shook our heads and laughed and said, look where we are now. I can remember '04 when he came in we were just a couple of young guys trying to make it in the league. Now, here we are coaching our sons' football game against each other's. It is pretty wild."
Does today feel like a reunion for you? Do you enjoy that opportunity?
"I do. I have a lot of great memories and a lot of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities that I got out here in San Diego and the relationships I made. A lot of the guys in the equipment room, training rooms and throughout the Chargers organization. It is more than just the guys that I played with, it is the guys that coached me. It is great to see them and catch up with them again."
How do you feel physically? Do you have a limit you think?
"No. I'm not putting any limits on myself. I feel great. I'm just taking it one year at a time."
Do you spend much time in San Diego nowadays?
"Yes, we do. We spend a lot of the offseason in San Diego. My trainer's there who I've worked with for my career, Todd Durkin and a bunch of guys that I train with come out. So, we have a good group. We all work together and keep in tip-top shape for the season. I have family out there, my mother-in-law, brother-in-law and lots of cousins, kids. The kids have a great school they go to. We have a lot of consistency out here."
Thoughts on San Diego losing the Chargers?
"I have said it, I think it is tough. I think we all can look at it and say that it didn't have to happen, but it did. I hate it for the Charger fans. Since I have been playing, you have some loyal fans for years and years. For them to lose their team, that is really tough. You are in Orange County now and you have this fan base here and you have going to LA but there is a lot of things that appear to be in flux right now."