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Transcript: Alex Anzalone Conference Call 9/9/20 | Week 1 vs. Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone talks about being prepared for Week 1 against Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Alex Anzalone
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Are you kind of surprised, pleasantly surprised that you've gotten to this point as we have with just the numbers being so low with COVID infections kind of around the league?
"Yeah. Obviously, we had no clue what to expect going into the season and, yeah, pleasantly surprised would be a good way to describe it."

You guys have had to prepare the last few years for certain Tampa Bay offense. Can you describe how it's a little different now, particularly with the quarterback change and also with (Rob) Gronkowski?
"One, we don't really know what to expect as far as how much of what (Tom) Brady does, implementing that into the Bucs offense. Obviously, Coach (Bruce) Arians has his offense. So there's some gray area, and obviously they're going to get their playmakers the ball and Gronk's one of them. So, you have got to prepare for that. There may be different ways and things than what we see on film right now, but we'll be ready."

Is it also a little more challenging, even if you have an idea what's coming in that it's in addition to (O.J.) Howard, (Chris) Godwin and (Mike) Evans if he plays is also Gronkowski and (Leonard) Fournette?
"Yeah, the more playmakers a team has, the harder it is to play against them. What those guys have done in the past speaks for itself and we'll be ready, but they're great players and they get paid, too."

I'm sure this isn't the first time you guys have entered where there's some gray area, when you do get into one of those and there are some surprises, just what's that adjustment process like and how do you guys kind of go through that?
"Throughout the game, each team gameplans for what you run and put on film. There is a little bit of that every game, obviously, this game is the season opener so we do not really know completely what to expect, but as long as you play your rules and your sound in your gaps and everything like that, you'll be fine. Obviously, you may be stuck in some situations that are tougher than others. Their coaches get paid, too. We've just got to be ready to adjust on the go."

We kind of talk about that like halftime adjustments, but that's really like a series by series thing?
Oh, yeah. When you get to the sideline, we have the (Microsoft Surfaces) out there and we see what they're trying to do, usually in the first series or two. What we think that they like and adjust from there."

Now that it's finally game week, did this offseason feel longer to you given everything that's happened since March?
"Yeah, I feel like during quarantine and all that it's been wild for everyone. We didn't really know what to expect. We were coming here for OTAs and then it got delayed. Figuring out what we are doing for training camp with rules and everything like that. Then once we finally got here, the first couple weeks were a little slow. And then they sped up as we got along with pads on and everything like that. It's been quick the last couple weeks, and we're, what, four days away from the game."

How long do you think it's going to kind of take guys to get feeling normal playing full speed? It's been since you were in college that you kind of just went through camp without having like an exhibition sort of thing leading up. Is that going to take a while to adjust to?
"I don't know, that is a good question. Obviously, it is going to be weird playing in front of no fans and some guys feed off of that (fans). So, they are going to have to adjust their game to that. As far as playing full speed, I think we will be ready on our side. Coach (Payton) does a good job putting us in game like situations throughout training camp and even throughout the week going into a game and we should be good. It'd be interesting to see just, like I said, with no fans, it could be interesting. Some teams may not come out with as much energy as others."

I don't know if you saw the game, probably not. I didn't really watch it, but I saw people talking about it. Apparently Navy football was having a horrible time tackling in a game because they haven't done it at all. So do you feel prepared.
"Realistically, we didn't get the same opportunities as normal preseason to do that live tackling, like you said. Usually, week one is when you do see a lot of missed tackles regardless of preseason or not. So that's definitely something that we stress, whether it's certain drills when knowing your leverage on a tackle and knowing where you have help, using the sideline to make a tackle. I think that's all really important and not missing those tackles. Those could be really key plays during the game."

You played Tom Brady before in your second NFL game, but what's it like going up against a guy like that who you've been watching maybe since you were a kid?
"I think it's similar going against someone like him in practice against Drew (Brees). One, like you said, growing up (and) watching him on TV, and two, him knowing exactly where to go with the ball and really smart attention to detail, all those things that make him great. I think that's definitely tougher going through a game like that (when) you have to go against a quarterback like that."

Just curious for your scouting report, impressions of Chase Hansen? 
"Yeah, he had a really good camp. He's a great player. He's fast. I think he transitioned from safety from college. Obviously, he's coming off an injury I guess this past year, but he's got a really impressive camp (under his belt) and obviously he's on (the) 53 (man roster) for a reason. And we'll see what he does this year."

You mentioned kind of growing up watching (Tom) Brady, but how weird is it just, these two guys that you grew up watching, how young does that make you feel?
"Yeah, that does make me make me feel a little young. Obviously, they play quarterback so it's a little different age expectancy, but it is really unique. Obviously, if you make a play on someone like that, it feels a little different to be honest."

With adding (Leonard) Fournette, what's that do for you guys at linebacker with a team that can kind of spread out a little bit, but then also you got this guy that is kind of a power runner, what's that challenge for the linebackers?
"It's a big challenge. Anytime you face a running back that's a power runner and kind of like, was alluded to earlier about emphasis on tackling week one. I think that'll be really important on the back like him and he, obviously, does a great job of doing his job and making players miss and all those things that make him great. So, it'll definitely be a challenge and we're up to it."

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