Look at photos from Day 1 of New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018 presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on July 26, 2018.
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees - 2018 Training Camp Presented by Verizon - Thursday, July 26*,* 2018
Do these begin to run together for you, are you still having fun?
"Yeah, I am still having fun, I am having a lot of fun. Every year is a new year. It is a new challenge. It's a new team. A lot of the same challenges and same goals and aspirations that you start every training camp with. There's always new dynamics and new circumstances and new guys that you're trying to use too. And there's that same level of excitement though and anticipation for what we can be. And this is where we build it. This is where we establish our identity and (I'm) just excited to get started."
If you don't mind me asking I know at the last minicamp I saw the new helmet, are you going to wear it this year?
"Yeah, I've tried to enter into the 21st century here. It turns out my helmet is on the banned helmet list as of next year. So, I tried to preemptively get out ahead of that and instead of them making me take it off next year I figured I would just make the move this year. Which is funny as I attempted to make a move about four years ago, I wore one of those alien looking helmets in the huddle and I remember Lance Moore right when I stepped in the huddle he was looking at me and he kind of stood up and gave me this look like bro I can't take you serious wearing that helmet. So, I was like forget it get this out of here and I went back to the old one. My helmet is outlawed, and they don't make (it) any more. So eventually it will be totally obsolete."
Is it an easy change, is it just no big deal?
"Yes, no big deal"
Has Lance Moore approved it?
"He said he saw a picture of it. I saw him this offseason in San Diego and he was giving me a hard time and we were laughing about it. But yeah, it's Lance Moore approved."
Is that a different facemask?
"Yes, because I think the shape and design of the helmet, it just requires a different facemask, which is the same general design. But they have to make it look a little more futuristic."
Do you have thoughts on different helmets, would you ever wear something different?
"I think for me it doesn't make a difference. It feels slightly different but once you play it's not a big deal. I think it's really for everybody who is used to looking at me and has that visual for what I look like in a face mask and this is just totally different."
There are higher expectations this year I guess than the previous year's. Is there a preference either way? Do you like the higher expectations rather than lower?
"I think you still take the same approach. I think that there is there's probably more challenges with higher expectations. Everyone loves the underdog mentality. It's easy to get motivated with the underdog mentality but it's a little bit harder to maintain that level of focus and concentration when you know you're supposed to be right or you're expected (to contend). But then again if we want to be a great team we have to be able to embrace that. We have to get the best out of ourselves by expecting it out of ourselves and not worrying about what other people expect of us. It's really about what we expect of ourselves and each other. So that's my approach."
Did you learn anything about how, to approach that in years that it didn't work out with high expectations. 2014 comes to mind where I feel like there was a lot of similar talk?
"Well similar talk and yet completely different locker room, completely different circumstances. If you recall, we had this success in 2013 where we felt like we had a team that was good enough to win. But, we lose to Seattle and they go on and win the championship. So, we felt like we were there and ready to take the next step and yet after that season if you recall we lost five pretty incredible leaders and highly productive players out of the locker room on both sides of the ball and it just changed the culture a little bit, changed the dynamics a little bit. Also looking back on it we realized that at the time we felt like we're young, we're talented, guys (would be) ready to step up and unfortunately that just wasn't the case. I think differently this year is that yes, we're coming off a successful season last year as far as getting close to it and feeling like we were there to accomplish what we had set our goals towards. But the differences are we haven't lost veteran guys we've gone and acquired some more veteran leadership and some guys that are great in the locker room. Great leaders. We've got this young talent that is continuing to develop, and I think you're always looking forward to seeing that jump from your one to your two certain guys and you're two to your three for other guys. But it is about making sure that you have the cultural foundation which we did not have back in 2014. I feel like (what) we have this year we have to continue to cultivate."
When you think back to your first training camp with the Saints in 2006, has anything changed over the years with how you approach camp specifically?
"Obviously 2006 was kind of its own animal just all of us getting there for the first time, really not knowing what to expect from Coach Payton, Jackson, Mississippi, the state that New Orleans was in at the time post-Katrina, but I think what Sean (Payton) was trying to implement at that time in regards to building the foundation and creating this culture and creating this belief and winning and the work ethic that would be required to accomplish the goals that we've set, I think a lot of those things are coming back. I think there was a bit of maybe two years ago, call it 2016 I think. I think after going through 2014 and 2015 were obviously disappointing years. Those were years where we felt like the locker room shifted, the culture shifted and we need to get back to what we set out to create in 2006, 2007, 2008, building up to 2009. That was the stage that we set for really that four, five years after that of some really successful teams, playoff teams. I think we hope that that's the window we're entering again with the young talent that we have that we know will be here for a while, the veteran guys that we've brought in to fill certain roles and be great leaders."
Do you have a lot of moments when you're around these guys to realize how young some of these guys are?
"Yes and no because I feel like I'm a big kid. I mean I'm 39, I've got four kids, I've got a family, I've got probably different priorities and different things that I do when I leave the building. I mean compared to a 22, 23, 24 kind of young single guy who doesn't have those same responsibilities, yet when we're all in the locker room it's we're all of one kind of mindset and approach and we have to be in order to build the team that we want to build and we feel like it's going to be necessary for our success. It's a bit of that brotherhood. It's that guys like being around each other. Guys are joking around with each other, we're playing games, whether it's cars or shooting hoops or stuff we do in the weight room. It's a brotherhood. Even though we all come from different walks of life and different stages of our life, it's one of the greatest things about football is right now we've got 90 guys that you're all bringing together to try to make one mindset, one goal, and belief system. So that's the fun part about it. I think that that's part of what keeps you young."
Your story has been well-documented going back to high school, being under-recruited, using that chip on your shoulder. But after all these years and success you've had, how do you maintain that edge in whatever year you are in now?
"There are still a lot of things I want to accomplish, and I understand the amount of work and effort that it's going to take to accomplish those things, and I understand I do not have a whole lot of time so I am a stay in the moment (guy) and enjoy every second because I know when it is over, it is over. There is no coming back. I want to be able to look back and say 'man I gave it everything I possibly could. I enjoyed every second of it and now I can move on to the next chapter of my life and be at peace with that.' There are still a lot of things to accomplish and I know in order to accomplish those things, and they're lofty goals, you got to work and have high expectations and sacrifice. Do even more now than maybe I've ever have."
How do you balance family while preparing for a new season?
"There is a balance. My family time is a great equalizer for me. I have to be able to leave this facility and go be with my family, be with my wife and be with my kids. They help balance me out. That enjoyment in my life helps me be a better football player, and it also forces me when I'm here to be as efficient as possible because I know my time can't run over. I can't just say I'll stay an extra hour. No, I have to get my work done by this time, so I can get home to read my kids a book before they go to bed or else I missed that opportunity and that eats at me, and then it throws me off my balance. It all works together."
How much did last year feel different or maybe your previous year's schematically and how much did that open things up?
"Well obviously we had a lot of success running the football. Both Mark [Ingram] and Alvin [Kamara] had tremendous years. The offensive line had a ton to do with that as well, I think our success doing that allowed us to stay more committed to it. I think the way we played on defense as well allowed us to where we didn't have to take as many chances offensively and have to push the ball down the field to take chances. Those are all great things. From game-to-game, sometimes those responsibilities or what you're being asked to do can be modified a little bit. There's going to be games where I throw it 45 times, there's going to be games where I probably throw in the mid-20s. As long as we are winning, as long as we are playing efficient Saints-caliber football then it does not matter. I think we've proven that we can win in a lot of ways. A lot of that is getting plan-specific and how defenses are going to try to play you. I love equal opportunity, I love being able to spread it around, I love having everyone involved and from game-to-game everybody knows this could be 'my big game, this could be the time where I'm needed to catch ten balls for a buck-fifty and two touchdowns or I'm just going to block this edge and these running backs are going to have a big day.' As long as we're winning, everyone wins."
Where is your comfort level with WR Tre'quan Smith so far?
"Obviously he was banged up a little bit for OTAs, so we missed that time, but I felt like we picked up on a lot of it during the month of July. We were together able to work together along with some of the other young guys. I always like to do that to feel like we're getting a jump start on camp. I was impressed with what I've seen over the last two weeks with him. I think now that he's healthy, I think there's a confidence level that's coming back. I think as he develops a comfort level with what he's hearing in the huddle and then just being able to go out and line up and make it more second nature. Every young receiver here it's man your head (is) spinning and if you're thinking about where you're lining up and you're not thinking about the depth that you're running that route where it can be thrown, it's just time on task and it's a comfort level with hearing it and that kind of thing. So, the more time that we have the better we'll get. The more confidence I have, the more confidence he will have in me and himself. And I think the results will show that."
Was there ever a moment in your career when you realized that you are the guy that sets the tone for the team?
"As a quarterback, you need to learn that the minute you decide that you want to play quarterback. When you step on the huddle it's got to be your huddle. You've got to be in control. Everybody's looking at you to really create the confidence that the offense is going to step up to the line of scrimmage with. If you appear hesitant, if you appear indecisive, then I think that that leads over to the team. They're going to be a direct reflection of you breaking the huddle. So I try to instill confidence in those guys, I try to get the tempo going and I try to make them feel like no matter what we call it's going to work because we're going to make it work. 'Hey we'll get into the right play and even if we don't, we'll make it work.' Running back, you might have to make that guy miss. Receiver, you might have to jump over that guy make the play but you can do it. So there's just a confidence that comes with that."
What are your thoughts on Shane Vereen?
"I've admired him from afar. Really respected what he was able to do in New England and then obviously in New York. (I) look forward to working with him. He's got a great skill set so looking forward to working with him."