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Transcript: Alex Anzalone training camp conference call - Monday, August 10

New Orleans Saints linebacker spoke to media about his rehab process and the upcoming NFL season

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Alex Anzalone
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, August 10, 2020

What has this past year been like for you in trying to get back and with a lot of different hurdles that may or may not have been in your control?
"Yeah, obviously going through any injury it's a little adversity at first and you've got to deal with it. I think that you just have to attack, I know it sounds cliche, but you have to attack every day as its own. And you know go through the process and at the end of the day you'll get back to being healthy and doing what you love to do and I'm finally here. So I'm excited for camp and here we are."

Curious about the offseason for you, what did you work on and what did you use that time, because you obviously had a lot of free time with the lockdown and everything, what did you use that time to do?
"Yeah, so I made a gym in my garage that was number one during the lockdown. Me and my wife were getting after it a little bit. We were able to do some field work and all that type of stuff. (I) Stayed on top of things, especially not having OTAs, offseason training and all that. I think that is kind of obviously a downside to all of this, this COVID stuff. We come in here and we're not necessarily completely prepared like we're used to and we're almost playing catch up, but everyone is doing a good job with that, especially with the rookies."

When you look back at these last couple of years, how big of a focus has been on forcing turnovers and how much of a part of that is the people you have on defense, guys that are there specifically to create turnovers?
"Yeah, that's something that DA (Dennis Allen) really emphasizes. Especially, a couple meetings ago, we don't call them turnovers we call them takeaways. It's a philosophy that you need to have ingrained in your mind, that you have to create the opportunities to get the ball. And we have guys on the team that have a knack for that, especially, obviously on the defense. And it's something that is super important, it's the number one stat in football is the turnover differential. So I think that's a huge emphasis going into this year."

You mentioned not having the OTAs and the offseason, did that allow you to heal up even more or did you feel like you were just ready to get back into it?
"Yes, I think I was ready to get back into it. I guess that goes for everyone, the more time we all had to lay low and focus on the little things that we want to get better (at) personally. Whether that be injury, technique, anything like that, that was an opportunity to get better in those aspects. But yeah, I think I was ready to get after it in OTAs and I was excited but, life moves on."

How do you balance knowing that you've had three or however many shoulder surgeries it is, but still trying to stay healthy and continue to be an impact maker for this team, even though you do have that injury history?
"I guess it kind of goes back to what I said. You take it a day at a time. I don't think that, obviously not playing two out of three seasons I've been here, obviously it's unfortunate, but you just have to keep looking forward. That's just how I run, how I go about things, and that's my personality and philosophy in life."

What was your take on seeing so many guys get unified behind the social justice messages this offseason and seeing the league respond in kind as well?
"Yeah, I don't think it's an unknown now, you know what's really going on in America. Any time our country is able to unify under a certain cause, especially this one that's been going on for so long, I think that it's important, especially times like this with COVID going on, all of these things going on around the country. To be able to unify is super important and if we want to get things done, that's what we need to do."

How much more of your game are you looking forward to sharing? I know a couple years ago we saw how versatile you can be but, how much more do you have to it?
"Yeah, I do think I have a lot more in my game that I haven't shown. I think I was starting to hit my stride in training camp last year but you know, I think there's a lot more I can show on film and show the league what I'm capable of."

Last time we spoke, you mentioned your dad and brothers are doctors. And I just wanted to make sure everyone was still safe and virus-free out there. What are you expecting to see from Kaden Ellis this year?
"My family is good, but obviously dealing with COVID patients in and out, some family members more than others. But I'm looking forward to Kaden. He's obviously coming off an injury and we saw in training camp and the first few games up until Seattle, what he's capable of on special teams, playing the outside linebacker position and he was really hitting his stride playing on the inside. That rookie transition of, how do you go about, now he knows what the defensive philosophies and playbook really is. Now he just has to execute it on the field and really put it all together, instead of coming in as a rookie and kind of playing catch-up."

What makes Demario Davis so special in that spot?
"Yeah, I think that the way he goes about his everyday life. Anyone that's around DeMario, that's kind of what you see about him. There's not many people that are able to be that consistent and committed to excellence as he is. And I think that's what really makes him great and his attention to detail."

Is there some sort of defense-wide goal this year, I know that you guys have taken some really big strides in the past few years in particular.
"Yeah, I think that anytime we, and it's not really particular this year, but in a bunch of different categories we want to be a top five defense. I think that's just a goal we have year in and year out. And that doesn't come by saying you want to do it you have to do the things that will get you there. And that's being excellent every single day and being able to execute at a top level every single day. That starts from training camp."

With that top five goal, does it feel more realistic with the steps you guys have been taking?
"Yeah, I think that the past three years, going on four now since I've been here, we've seen the defense take tremendous steps in the right direction. From the personnel that we have now and guys already used to the system, younger guys becoming older guys, I think it's definitely attainable at this point."

I know you mentioned missing OTAs and minicamp, how eager are you to get back to doing real football activities with the pads and the helmets?
"That's what we're paid for and what we're here to do. So anytime you get to do what you love to do and do it at a high level it's really exciting."

*Are you staying at the hotel and if you are, I know you usually stay in the hotel during training camp but, are there any differences if you are? *"There is obviously a big difference this year. It is optional. Rather than the typical mandatory deal we have during other normal training camps, we will call it (optional). For me personally, I'll probably be going back and forth. Going into the season right now I'm spending time in the hotel. My wife is pregnant so I obviously don't want to expose her too much to me. And I know she's doing the right things at home to stay safe. That is kind of our family plan."

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