Following the conclusion of Saturday's Black and Gold Scrimmage, Head Coach Sean Payton, QB Drew Brees and LB Jonathan Vilma talked to the present media. Below are the thoughts that the coach, and offensive and defensive captains gave on teh performance of the club, their respective units as well as some insight into Monday's White House visit and the ensuing trip to New England to practice against and play against the Patriots
Head Coach Sean Payton
Opening Statement:**We held Patrick Robinson and (Scott) Shanle along with Rod Harper and Tyler Lorenzen, and of course the three guys on PUP. To the best of my knowledge, we stayed pretty healthy during the scrimmage. We battled through the heat, but we got enough snaps and we finished with the two-minute drill. Overall, I was pretty pleased. We had a couple of penalties, pre-snap offensively. Defensively, I think we did a really good job with getting the offense in some long yardage situations.
What were the injuries to Harper and Shanle?**Harper was the hip. Shanle was the knee. We are backing off those guys, and we think they will be ready when we get to New England.
Specifically Shanle?**I expect him to be ready to go against New England.
Were you pleased with the way that the offense ran?**The times where we got stopped behind the chains, whether it be a sack or a penalty, led to the long yardage situations that I alluded to. Overall, it was pretty good. We didn't have the ball on the ground. I thought, defensively, we did a good job, especially as the scrimmage went on.
Is that how the ambush is supposed to look?**Yes. That's right. That's exactly how it was supposed to look.
Getting Patrick Ramsey in with the first team, that's obviously by design…?* *It just gave us a chance to get all four quarterbacks work. So, when he slid up, Chase (Daniel) slid up, so we got a chance to look at Sean (Canfield) as well.
Did you like what you saw with that?**Yes. I thought he did pretty well early on.
Did anyone in particular catch your eye?**We will look at the tape. It's hard when you look at it live, at game speed. We will look at the video and have a chance to really grade everything. We have the rest of the day off now, with the tapes and the meetings, then our flight tomorrow night. There are two days where we won't practice. For work against New England, we'll have two.
Lynell Hamilton got some work today. Has he been solid?**He sure has been. He's been healthy. He's been a steady back for us. So far, we are pleased with what he is doing.
What are your goals now with this break after the scrimmage, and what do you hope to accomplish next week?**When you go against, and practice against, another team, you kind of shift gears a bit to what we are seeing. We are going to get a 3-4 front. It will be good for us on offense. Defensively, you see a new set of formations, play designs, and personnel. I think any time you do that, you benefit just from the change in scenery. I think it will be a good opportunity for us to get out of the heat and still get some work in.
How did that come about? Did you and Bill Belichick talk about it?** We spoke in the spring. I think we had a couple of phone calls. Bill mentioned about coming up there early. What I wanted to do, was to tie it in to the White House trip so we didn't have to take two trips. Once we settled on a date with the White House, it was going to work where we could work with them for two days before our game. We did that once before when I was in New York with New England and it worked out pretty well.
You are going to be practicing against two teams in two different weeks. Is that common? Does it help to not be banging up against each other?**It's a little different. I think it helps break camp up. We'll have the week, next week, with New England. We'll come back late Thursday night, early Friday morning, and we will have a few days separate. Not until the middle of the next week will we have Houston. There will be a period of time where we are back in our two-a-day mode here before Houston comes in. That being said, it is the first time we have done it with two different teams in training camp.
Jimmy Wilkerson has been healthy and productive?**We rested him early in the week for a couple of practices, but his rehab is going well. It's good to see him getting some snaps.
Will he play end and tackle for you guys?**We will rotate him. I think his more comfortable position is end, but there are enough packages that we can move him back and forth.
How did what you saw today compare to what you thought you would see?**Last year, at this time, we went indoors. I don't know if you recall, we had some rain. I thought it was good to battle through the heat. I think we are in pretty good shape. We still have work to do there. The players, overall, handled it pretty well.
Looking at the first nine days of camp, things have been pretty smooth. There have been no serious injuries, contract disputes, holdouts?**I think, knock on wood, that we have been healthier than in camps past. We still have three weeks. Overall, I have been pleased with that. Guys have been getting the work and the reps. I do think Patrick Robinson, (Scott) Shanle, (Rod) Harper, and (Tyler) Lorenzen should get some work next week.
Do you have any time-table for Clint Ingram?**We are just waiting to see on him, (Robert) Meachem, and Sharper. Not in any order, but a lot of that is predicated on how there rehab is going.
Did you ever tour the White House when you were a boy?**No, this is my first time.
QB Drew Brees
What do you feel the club got out of today?"It was hot. The guys battled through. I thought it was great reps both offensively and defensively. There are certainly a lot of things we need to work on both sides of the ball, but I think it was really competitive. Everybody's working very hard and competing for jobs out here."
What's left for you to work on?"Plenty, I think we should score every time we touch the ball and we didn't do that today. That's frustrating. Obviously our defense is playing very well. They definitely make us better as an offense. They're fun to compete against every day. You either walk off the field feeling like you got the best of them or you walk off the field feeling they got the best of you. Regardless, there's always a paly or two out there you wish you would have done differently or been more efficient with, or you would have gotten the ball out faster or made a better protection call, or what it might be. There's always stuff to work on."
Can you talk about the progression of Lynell Hamilton in the offense?"Lynell Hamilton's doing a real good job. With Mike Bell's departure and the role he played last year. That role is coming up for grabs. Lynell Hamilton's fighting for that role. Certainly when you look at the stable of backs we have with Lynell Hamilton, Reggie (Bush) and Pierre (Thomas), certainly there are some other people that are turning heads as well. P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory. It makes practice pretty fun ."
What did the defense show today?"Yes, they did today what everybody's used to seeing at least from last year, playing fast, there's a lot of pressure. I think rallying to the ball very quickly and creating turnovers. That's what our defense really thrived on last year."
Is it frustrating when you are unable to convert like today at the goal line?"Yes, absolutely it's frustrating. That's what tomorrow's for."
In your career, have you ever had joint practices with two teams in a training camp?"I'm really looking forward to it, because it breaks up the monotony and it gives you a look at two different teams when you look at New England running the 3-4 defense, what they do offensively. I think it's great work for both our offense and defense and what you get out of it on special teams. Houston comes to town and it's the same with them. It's the same thing and now you're going to a 403 defense and offensively a pass-happy spread them out offense that can do different things. It's a good thing to break up the monotony and practice and play against someone else . When you get a lot of different looks, you feel like you're getting exposed to everything before the start of the regular season."
Does it seem like a quiet camp and are you trying to make it boring for the media?"We are. We're just trying to take care of business, let everybody speculate and talk and come out ready to play week one."
Do you look forward to the White House trip?"That's part of the deal. Those are the perks. Everybody's excited to stop up to D.C. on the way up to Foxboro, say hello to the President and receive that honor of being the Super Bowl champ. It's interesting where we have some guys on the team that weren't here last year and vice versa. I think it's a great experience for everybody. I'm sure afterwards, we say, let's try to do this next year."
Will you miss a little bit of a party in Madden Gras?"Obviously that's a pretty neat deal where EA's coming down here to launch Madden and naming it Madden Gras. I'm bummed we're going to miss it because it's great for the people of New Orleans and the fans. It's certainly just another reason to throw a party down here in New Orleans. It's great."
LB Jonathan Vilma
What do you feel the club got out of today?"From my perspective, it is defensively making sure we have the right checks, we're in the right gaps, that you see improvement from the start of camp until now. Once you start camp, everybody's putting pads on and now you have your first scrimmage. It's almost like the Hall of Fame game. We like to compare it to that. You're going to have some rough issues, but you want to make sure you come out here, fly around, we're hitting hard and getting into the right gaps."
*Are you seeing improvement? *"Yes, today we saw that improvement. Aside from the first drive that we scored on, I thought we did a very good job defensively. We flew around pretty well. We made plays on the ball. That was the biggest thing. A lot of those things are reminiscent of what we did last year, of getting to the ball and making plays. I was excited with what I saw."
Why have you guys been so successful at making adjustments?"Today, because it was so basic. I don't think we made any adjustments. It was really having the guys calm down. We calmed down and settled into the scrimmage. You have the crowd out here. It was the first time you really have offense vs. defense, you really want to get after it. Once the guys calm down, we calmed down as a unit and played better defense."
Do you see differences in where the defense could be better than last year?"I definitely see differences. The best example I could see is that two minute drive where it hit the long pass, they're on the ten yard line and four downs later, no points. I think at this time last year we might have given that up a and we might have broken down mentally and not been as tough to say, enough's enough. That was probably the best example I could give."
How competitive is this behind the scenes?"It gets very competitive. You don't want anybody hurt. That's the biggest thing. Once everybody comes away without major injuries, which we're excited about, that's when the trash talking starts."
Who talks trash the most against each other? You and Drew Brees?"It depends on who won. I thought we got the better of them today so I feel I have a little bit more to say than Drew."
After Jimmy Wilkerson scored a touchdown, is he now officially ingratiated into your defense?"Yes. He did a great job. I wanted to go for that ball, but he was coming with a full head of steam. I decided I was going to back up and be happy that we got the ball."
What do you think about the strong side linebacker competition so far?"I think it's been a great competition throughout camp. Actually it started through OTAs and it's been a great competition. The best part of it is that you have Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Troy Evans, Clint Ingram when he gets back healthy. They're all helping each other out. You have this common respect for each other. It's very competitive. I think that's going to be the best thing about it. They're all helping each other out trying to have the best people out there. When the season starts, whoever's there will be there and we know he'll work for it."
What do you see in the backup quarterback battle from a defensive view?"For (Patrick) Ramsey, it's his first time in the system, but he has the advantage of being experienced. I'm not going to say he can read coverages better than Chase (Daniel). I would say just from being a veteran he has that game experience under his belt. Asides from that, it's too tough to tell."
What are your thoughts on going to the White House?"I think it's great. I think that it's the perfect timing. It breaks up the timing of camp. I think that all of the guys are excited to be going to see President Obama. I know I'm excited."
Can you talk about the practices and game with New England?"I'm assuming it's going to be the same as when we practiced with Houston. It's going to be good, new competition. That will be the best thing going against another top quarterback in Tom Brady and a very good offense. They have been in the top five, I'm assuming for the past five or ten years. That's going to be exciting going against them. It's a different competition. I feel like they're just as capable. I'd love to see where we're at."