Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly
Conference Call with Saints Media
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
What you saw out of the Saints offense the first couple of weeks?
"Well Drew Brees is still really good. I think Alvin Kamara is a really good player. I think he's kind of in that Sproles kind of family a little bit where he's really good out of the back field. He's really good running the ball. He's shifty in space. I think they can get him out on screens and then mismatch opportunities on linebackers. I think if you're Drew Brees, you're happy to have a guy like him. I think Michael Thomas isn't always given enough credit either. I think he's a really good player. He had over 1,000 yards last year. I'm surprised more people aren't talking about him. But their offense is still what it is. It's explosive. Drew makes it run and they're very creative with the ball."
Does Kamara change what the Saints have been doing since the last time they had Sproles do you think??
"I think you guys always had guys in that same kind of (role). You had Cadet and guys like that. I think he's just really good out of the backfield and he's good in that system for what you guys do. I think the backfield this year is the best it's been in a while. You have Mark who's another guy I don't think gets credit. He's really good. Obviously Zach Line and now you have Kamara. They're all a little bit different and they all do different things. But I think together they are really a potent group of three."
Have you seen any similarities between Kamara and your guy you've been practicing against all summer Christian McCaffrey?
"Yes. I think they have the same kind of box of plays. They can kind of line up anywhere. I saw Alvin run a go ball, he caught a go ball. He's run angles. He's run screens. He's run routes. He's kind of does a little bit (of everything). And he can run the ball. He had a really good run earlier in that Cleveland game. I think in the preseason where he ran it in there, bounced off a couple of guys, broke a couple of tackles and got out on the edge. So he's not just a scatback. He's a guy that can run in between the tackles and make some moves in there too."
Has it been weird not having A.J. (Klein) around?
"Yes, I miss him. I miss having him here. I miss him and Ted (Ginn). You guys are lucky you got those guys. They both are good dudes. They both play hard and I miss having them around."
What was your relationship with A.J. like? Obviously you came in a year before him.
"Me and A.J. were really close. We were in the same room. We hung out a lot. He was one of my better friends on the team. I was bummed he left us. But I was excited for him to have the opportunity he got down there and he deserves it. He's worked real hard. I'm excited to see him have a good year this year."
What do you remember about your first impressions meeting him in 2013?
"He was smart and he understood the game of football. He worked really hard. He kind of just came in and did everything the right way. He was perfect. When you come in as a young guy, you always look for guys to be friends with. A.J. came in my second year and I was lucky to have him around."
How much did you sense though he was always waiting for his opportunity?
"I knew it right away. He came in and he was ready to play. It's just there were some other guys in the room at that point. It was only a matter of time before A.J. had an opportunity to play elsewhere and get a chance to start, play a lot and play all three downs and all the snaps in the game. We were lucky to have him for four years. We all just knew it was a matter of time before he got an opportunity somewhere else."
What do you remember about your impressions of the way he played when you were hurt and he was filling in for you?
"It was one of those things I don't think anyone on our team was surprised of how well he did. I think he came in, he had a pick, some sacks. He had a couple of forced fumbles. He came in and did exactly what we all thought he would. Come in, he didn't miss a beat. He did everything he needed to do. He got guys lined up. He played hard. He created turnovers and made big plays for us. So it wasn't a surprise to anybody on our team that he played as well as he did."
Back to McCaffrey, how much does practicing against a guy like that help you prepare for a guy like Kamara?
"Well you know they both are shifty out of the backfield. They both are good in space. And they both are dangerous with the football. So when you have a guy like Christian and even Fozzy Whittacker, that are good out of the backfield it kind of gives you a good prep for the season."
What about the way Julius Peppers is playing?
"He's done a great job and I think you bring in a guy like that it brings a boost to your team even before the ball is snapped. Just to have a veteran, future hall of fame guy on your team is a cool deal. We're happy to have him and he's played great so far this year."
What's been the difference in you guy's defense compared to the start of last season?
"I think we got some guys back that we young last year. James and Daryl were both rookies last year and they have a full year under their belt. I think they're more comfortable with what we're doing. They're more comfortable with the NFL game. When you add pieces on defense like Pepp and Mike Adams and Captain Munnerlyn. They don't need a lot of time to acclimate to your team and to your system. They make transitions more seamless than maybe a young guy would. Coach Wilks has us playing well. The defensive line up front is playing great so when those guys are doing as good a job as they are it makes our job easier."
How much growth have you seen out of those young corners?
"I think they've taken steps in the right direction. They've worked really hard. I think they both take coaching. They both learn. Your first year in the NFL there are a lot of new things going on. You move to a new city, you got a new team. You get new friends. You're in a new, a whole new game. Everything moves faster. There's a lot of stuff to worry about that these guys now moved in their second year. They are comfortable in Charlotte. Now all they have to do is worry about football. I think when you can isolate it to just football, you can get a lot better.
How difficult was the experience of having a concussion during the last Saints matchup?
"It was a bummer. I was bummed I couldn't play. But it was one of those situations where our team did a good job of making sure I got better and I was good to go. So we've moved on from it and hopefully that was the last one."