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Saints transcripts: Marquez Callaway, Taysom Hill, Cameron Jordan and James Hurst Media Availability | Wednesday, Dec. 22

Saints players on Week 16 matchup against Miami

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Marquez Callaway 
Zoom Call with Local Media
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

How did you feel about your performance in last week's game?
"I mean it was an awesome feeling, you know, just one, that we was able to come out with a win so that's the ultimate goal. But individually, I just went out there and nothing changed, I just went out there and just made plays when we had to. Whether that's catching, running or blocking and ultimately just excited, a career-high like you said and excited that we won."

Why do you think the team only has only one victory inside the Caesers Superdome this year?
"Yeah, I have heard stories and everybody told me since I have gotten here, like I have not played here for the Saints until I had a chance to play in front of the crowd. And I mean since preseason when we had a little bit of crowd there, it has just been great. Being able to listen and hear the advantage we have or compared to on the road and at home. It was just a feeling that I can't explain. I told my best friend, you got to come up here so you can experience the stadium because it's definitely different than college, definitely different than any other game that you've been to. So I'm still trying to get him up, got two games left to get him up. But looking forward to these two games at home. We will need all the home crowd we can use. So I'm excited, I know they're excited and I know we have a chance to turn things around here at the end. So that's what we're going to go out there and do."

What are your thoughts on P.J. Williams' hit on Chris Godwin?
"That's the first time I've heard anything about it honestly. I've never heard of it. I mean, on the field, during the game, when it happened, nobody likes to see a player go down on our team or any other team, no matter if we're playing against somebody. So seeing them go down, that's never a good thing. So I hope everything went well for him. But then I see, as we we're going home that he had a (torn) ACL. So I hate that for him and I will be wishing the best of recovery. But when you just said that, that was my first time, honestly, hearing about it being a controversial hit. Like you said, we go through the middle all the time, we get hit like that all the time. So it's just unfortunate that it happened to a player like him and to one of our guys doing it."

How do you play a complementary game offensively when your defense is playing so well?
"As an offense, as a receiver, we want to throw the ball every down. Obviously, we know you can't do that. But as an offense, I feel like we want to score points every time you go out there, whether it's touchdowns, field goals, or anything. But putting our defense in the situations that we have been putting them in on defense, I mean, even though they can take it and they've been doing a great job the last few weeks, or this season as a matter of fact, we can't keep doing that because sooner or later it's going to come back and hurt. So, the defense does a great job of stopping the opponent and going out there and doing what they can. And then we go out there, you know, we have a few drives where we are three and out and their right back on the field. And as a receiver, I know it's frustrating because, we feel like maybe there's something more we can do to keep our defense from being out (there so long). Because like you said, it's complimentary football, they have our back, we have their back, and less (time) that they're on the field, the more that they can produce. So just being able to go out and if we have to sustain drives or if we have to just run (the clock out) where we have to run the ball. As long as it's helping our defense that's automatic. So that's pretty much what we tried to do."

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill
Video Call with Local Media
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

In your time here as you've gotten to know Cameron Jordan a little bit and seeing some of the things he's done off the field, what kind of jumps out to you about him and the work he's done in the community and just getting this Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination?
"Yeah, I don't think that there's anyone more deserving on our team. And I think when you come in the NFL as a young player, you kind of you find vets to look up to and see how they manage the stress of football and managing your time with family and off the field stuff and Cam's just been one of those guys that just seems to do it all. And so I would say all those qualities are things that you try to emulate as a young player, find ways to give back and he's found the right way to manage his time to make sure he's giving back to the community and I really appreciate his example of doing that and showing people in the locker room how to do that."

I know we talked to you a lot this summer about completing passes to Alvin Kamara and running backs in general. It seems like you guys had a really good rhythm going two weeks ago and then maybe were a hair off this past week. How much more difficult is that then maybe people appreciate and how close do you guys think you are to being on the same page in the passing game I guess?
"I'm not going to overthink having a couple of incompletions to Alvin and overcomplicate what that is. Most of the time, some of his route trees are option routes, so he has the ability to break in, break out, sit, there's so much variability to these routes. And so as a quarterback, you are kind of reliant upon him doing the right thing. I think that there's a timing element that is hard to mimic in practice. I'm not making excuses, we need to throw and catch the ball and that's that, but I'm not over complicating the matter. I think we'll get it fixed, but that's really where, from a timing and all of that, that's how all those things factor into play."

Just checking in on your finger. Now that you've had extra reps, full extra game with that, how have you kind of managed getting it to where it is? Does it feel the same, better or worse?
"Yeah, so no real update. The finger will be what it is, from here on out, it'll be in a splint for eight weeks from when the injury happened. So this is just how it will be from when it happened till the season's over. So no change there."

I remember earlier this season, during the five-game losing streak, you talked about how that was kind of a new experience for you in the NFL. And I am sure you can imagine the Dolphins going through a seven game losing streak and being 1-7 at one point in the season. Does what these two teams have had to go through to get to this point where you have a meaningful late December game on Monday Night Football make this game particularly compelling. Just as a professional and having gone through a new thing and seeing how what it kind of takes to get here?
"Yeah, I think that that's very fair. I think for a team to lose seven in a row or we lost five in a row and to find the courage and the leadership to come back and continue to prepare, and put your best foot forward to win football games, that shows a lot about the team, a lot about the character inside the building from management to coaches to players, all of that. And so I think, yeah, I think it's a really compelling matchup and I've got a lot of respect for them as a team and a program, the staff there. I'm looking forward to the game."

Dennis Allen talked earlier with us about the challenge of trying to replicate the intensity and the emotion you all played with on Sunday night. I know that's a challenge every week in the NFL. But can you speak to that because it seems like that's been an issue for this team this year, at least following up a big win with another performance?
"Yeah, I feel like, again, I talk about the character in the locker room, and just guys continuing to put in the work to prepare for games. I don't worry about guys playing with energy on Monday night, or a Sunday at 12 Noon kickoff. But I do think that it is a real thing when you go and play a division opponent on a Sunday night like that was a big game for us. And there's no way around that. So I think that that is a real thing, following a game like that, getting ready to play another one on Monday night. The one thing I would say is we're very aware of where we're at as a team, as an organization, we're 7-7 and we need some help to get in the playoffs. Every game for us is a playoff game and we've got to continue to put our best foot forward to create that opportunity. So I'm not worried about the energy level Monday night, I do think that that is a real thing. But again, I point back to the character in this building, in this locker room, and we've got such great leaders that we'll all be ready."

Is that messaging at all this week or is that left unsaid? Do you not even need to say it?
"We haven't had a conversation like that in the locker room or with the staff. We haven't talked about that. I think we were all professionals. We know what the expectation is."

Just having had a couple of games under your belt now, do you think that helps, just getting the game reps at quarterback?
"Yeah, absolutely. I go back to my first start against Dallas and it was kind of in that window where we had the Sunday to Thursday to Thursday, and we had all these injuries. That first start of mine we didn't have any offense vs. defensive reps. I didn't get any team live reps prior to that game. And so the preparation was different. And now, fast forward to the last couple of weeks, we've had normal practice schedules, live team reps and I've had all of these game reps to be ready for the next one and gain more and more experience and feeling more and more comfortable doing all of that stuff. And so it certainly helps as you get ready for the next one."

New Orleans Saints Defensive End Cameron Jordan
Media Availability
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

What does it mean to you to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the second time?
"To be nominated for the second time for the Walter Payton Man of the Year (WPMOY) award for the Saints, that's huge. That's a blessing. That is a nod and acknowledgement of the work I'm doing in the community. To me, when I first heard it, initially I thought that this is not going to stop me from doing my work, it is just going to add on to it. This gives an extra light to the social justice reforms that Crescent City Corps has added on to with their training of the NOPD police officers that have now been a part of two cohorts (classes). I'm looking forward to the future for that. It's a nod to the relief work we did earlier this year for Hurricane Ida to help United Way. It is always going to be an ability to put a spotlight on one of my favorite inner-city youth programs, which is the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). If you would've asked me this for my first nomination, I would have told you I did not want the cameras around. Now that I'm older and wiser, I understand that even though I don't want the cameras around, this helps put a spotlight on the programs that I've been able to be a part of. With my foundation, "God is Love", it's been a blessing to be a part of the community the way I have been these last 11 years, especially this past year being involved with the WPMOY. I think that the strategus of the WPMOY award can go a long way towards highlighting individuals with the work that they're doing, as well as beyond the individuals and the work that's being done. I think there's so many other teammates that are qualified (for the WPMOY award) based on the work they've done. Every time I look across the locker room with guys like Terron Armstead, Alvin Kamara, Demario Davis, and Malcolm Jenkins with the work that they do in the community, that's really inspiring. It's a challenge to do more. It's a great nod and acknowledgment, but there's so much more work that I can do and I'm hoping to be doing in the future."

Was it a relief to finally record your 100th career sack?
"I mean, the 100 sacks is a phenomenal achievement. Had I not just been told I'm a run stopper my rookie year and only having one sack that year, maybe I would've gotten here faster. But we're here now. In my wildest dreams, I don't think I even thought about getting 100 sacks when I first entered the league. I had a third or maybe a half (100) sacks as a goal and I could carve out a 7–10-year career with 40-50 sacks and a couple of pro bowls, that would've been a phenomenal feat for me, that way I wouldn't have considered myself a failure next to my dad (former NFL TE Steve Jordan). To be a part of the Saints organization the past 11 years has been a blessing. To see the teammates, I've had; from Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees, Akiem Hicks, Sheldon Rankins, Scott Fujita, Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Jon Vilma, A.J. Klein, James Laurinaitis, Manti T'eo, there's been so many phenomenal teammates and people that I've met, and that's just mostly the defense. Guys like Robert Meacham, Marcus Colston, Chris Ivory, the Saints leading rusher, Mark Ingram II. Everything that the Saints have meant to me goes beyond just sacks. It just goes to the teammates I've had, to the locker rooms I have been a part of to who I am now, and who I aspire to be. 100 sacks is a phenomenal milestone personally, but beyond that, with the same club, it has been the relationships and connections I have built here that bring the true meaning to the 100 sacks. There's just so much more people don't see in the personal aspect."

What did your consecutive games played streak mean to you? Did you ever feel pressure to play with that streak?
"There is no sense of pressure when I play football. If you have not figured out by now, I love this game. When it comes to practice, it doesn't matter if it's training camp or regular season, I love playing the game of football. There is no pressure to play besides from myself. I always want to play football. I go home and play with my son. He wants to play tackle football now. In the offseason, you miss it. For about two weeks, you can't wait to heal up, but then I just want it to be football season again. Now you have spring training for baseball, which is fun if you like watching baseball, you get to travel which is cool, because everybody likes to travel. But about two weeks in, I just want to hit somebody. I just want to put the pads on and be in the locker room and know I'm going to war with my teammates that have gone through the hell fires of training camp with me. The answer would be there's no pressure, there's only expectation that each one of those snaps could be my last snap. You've got to be able to enjoy the moment, and I feel like I've played that way since high school football. There's only a finite amount of time that you have to play football, so you better enjoy each and every second."

Have you always had the dynamic personality that you express today?
"You'd have to ask my mother that. 6, 7-year-old me waking up at 6:00 AM singing at the top of my lungs, I thought everyone did that. Apparently not. But now I have a son (Tank) who's just like me, so now I'm getting just dessert and I fully understand what I was doing. But I can only say, I hope he achieves greatness. I look at him like I'm looking at a mirror sometimes, just 26 years younger. But, yeah, I have always been me. I think the only thing that's changed is the family nickname, to now just being called Cam. Not a lot has changed for me."

Have your goals grown with each season? I know you've mentioned wanting to play 20 seasons.
"I feel like 16 seasons is a solid number. Another five years after this, that's super solid. We'll probably re-engage around then. I don't know if I've ever wanted to play 20 years. There's nothing in me that says I'll be 40 years old playing football. C'mon. I respect guys like Andrew Whitworth, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, half the kickers in the game. That won't be me. Playing at 40, that better not be me. You know, I feel like with the energy I give this game, everything I've given this game and with everything this game has given to me, I've never taken it for granted. I've always enjoyed each moment that I have been here. So, no, I'm not being humble when I said I would've been happy with 40-50 (career) sacks. My rookie year, I tell people, I got drafted to play the 4 and the 3-technique. I worked my ass off to play defensive end and be recognized as such. So, from one sack my rookie year to as high as 15.5 sacks (2019), one of these years I'll look back at it. From that point (2012), I don't think I have ever had less than 7.5 sacks. I need to knock on wood. I would be at 7 (right now), but Kwon Alexander had his interception off of Josh Allen (vs. Buffalo). We won't talk about it; we're just going to move forward. I feel like with each game and each step that we take forward during the season, it's about the team. Again, in the offseason, that's when we'll talk about the personal accolades. For me, it's about loving each and every minute that I'm in this building, being able to prepare and work for the job that I love."

Last week when there was discussions about cancelling games due to the Omicron variant, what was your reaction to that possibility?
"I'm going to preface this, I'm a NFLPA alternate representative. You'd have to talk to Demario Davis who is our team's NFLPA representative. I will say, I knew the games weren't going to get cancelled. C'mon. It's a big business."

Were players concerned about the idea of cancelling games with not getting paid?
"Refer to those last three words I just gave you."

Was it difficult earlier in the year when the sacks weren't happening, and the numbers weren't where they typically are for a player of your caliber?
"No. It is a season. If anything, I just said take a deep breath. It is a 17-game season. In this first part of the season, there was a lack of defensive line depth for us. Our starters that we look forward to were sort of out of it. David (Onyemata) was gone for six games, Marcus (Davenport) was gone for four of those six games. You could see what happens when we have our full depth of starters, and the focus isn't shifted on just one person. I could tell you that at the beginning of the season, I was catching more doubles and triples than I think I've ever seen before, but that's just a personal gripe. When it comes down to it, we were winning. Whatever it takes to win, we'll do that. So, the answer would be no frustration. I'm on full tilt. I came into this league as a run-stopper. You are not just going to define me by my sack numbers. If I went sackless for the year, I know I've played the hell out of that run."

New Orleans Saints Offensive Lineman James Hurst
Media Availability
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

How do you view the game against Tampa Bay when you're playing complementary football, but you only score nine points on offense?
"The main goal, obviously, is to win the game. From that point of view, it's a success. We kind of had an idea of how that game was going to go and what it was going to be. It was exactly like what we thought. There were a lot of times, especially in the second half, on offense where we felt like we were leaving our defense out to dry. That's just really taxing on the defense. They answered the challenge and did an incredible job against a great offense, so that was great to see. It's encouraging to know you have those guys on your team. But yeah, there are a lot of things we (offense) could have done better. We could've closed the game out with the ball, but we didn't do that. That is something we know that's a challenge for us and something we have to improve on in the future."

Do you think this offense has taken a step forward in recent weeks?
"Yeah, I think so. I think we understand maybe a little more of our identity. We know what we can and can't do in order to succeed. I think we have hit some of those markers in our last two wins, which is really important. Just understanding, hey, this is how we are going to score points, and this is how we are going to move the ball, and each week taking the things we need to improve on as the offense that we know we can be. So, just coming to work on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and making sure that we're ready for the game."

Is it interesting to you or gratifying to be involved in a losing streak but then persevering to be still in the playoff hunt?
"Yeah. It's really cool. It's such a long season. There's that cliché, 'it's not a sprint, it's a marathon.' I think everyone knows that, but the identity of a team kind of forms as a season goes on. You might play a tough stretch of games where it's one-score loss after one-score loss, having dumb mistakes that you know you can't make, but then realizing what you are and how you're going to win games. Getting that formula down pat and finding ways to win games is all that matters at the end of the day. Whether you win by one or forty, it still only counts as one win. I think a lot of people know that and towards the end of the year, teams really filter into what they are based on their record."

What's it like going up against Marcus Davenport's speed to power move?
"Personally, I do not recall anyone that has that move that is that polished and effective. I told him maybe last week or two weeks ago, 'I'm so glad to see that working on Sundays, because I am more than sick and tired of trying to block that throughout training camp and during practices.' Just seeing it pay off for our team is great and for him it's great. It's obviously helping our team. He's a disruptive player that's had a lot of success lately. It's a tough move, but I do not envy anyone trying to block it."

What's it like going up against Cam Jordan in practice? What has made him a unique player in the NFL?
"I think the first thing that jumps off is that he won't take a play off. If you have 70 plays in a game, he's going to have 70 opportunities to make an impact play: whether that's a tackle for loss, a sack, a turnover. He's not going to take any plays off and that's going to increase the chances of his impact on the game. Second, the types of moves that he does, everything looks the same. Whether it's a pass set or you're run blocking him, he approaches every block the exact same way and right at the last second, whether it's a swim move or a bull rush, whatever it may be, they all look the same. So really, for a player like him, (1) you have to bring it every play and (2) your technique is on point, because with one little slip-up, he's able to take advantage and make a play."

How meaningful is it to get family time on Christmas Day, knowing how precious family time is during the season?
"It's incredibly precious. That's totally right. Christmas is a very important holiday for a lot of people for a great reason. I think having a little chance to have the same amount of time during a normal week but having one day to get mental rest, physical rest, and have time to see some family and friends is a great feeling. It's very exciting how the schedule has worked out. Typically playing on holidays isn't the most enjoyable thing to do, but knowing we have Christmas, a Monday night game following that. It's a great holiday, great Monday night atmosphere with a black out in the Superdome, that's a great combination."

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