New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, August 7, 2020
How well do you feel you're grasping the intricacies of the Saints offense so far?
"I think it's coming along, it's day by day. Missing OTAs, I kind of wish we had those, but so does every team in the NFL. Right now it's kind of trying to understand, but I think C.J. (Curtis Johnson) and R.C. (Ronald Curry), my receiver coaches are doing a great job explaining (the offense) to me. I think that the schedule that the Saints have set up to get me acclimated with it as well has been good. We've been having walkthroughs in the afternoon, which has been really good to get that timing down, even though it's not full speed to even run through those routes. Then in the morning, the following day, Drew (Brees) will come in and sit in the meetings and tell us what he's thinking and the whole nine yards so it's been really good. It's coming along. I'm trying to work in two positions so hopefully the more I know and the more positions that I can play the better that I can perform. I'm trying to grasp the entire thing."
Drew Brees said that he flew out to Denver to get some work in with you this offseason prior to training camp. How important was that even if it's just for a couple days?
"It was good. It was really good for me. Sometimes a lot of people, they talk about the X's and O's, but moving to a whole new city and you don't know any guys on the team so when Drew came out it kind of made me feel good to know at least when I show up the locker room I already had gotten acclimated with him. We spent two days together, went to Tropical Smoothie and had lunch, got to chop it up and get to know each other, so that was that was really good as well. Sometimes, on the field that's going to work itself out, but the off the field is pretty cool to be able to get to know a guy and know what he's about with his family. So that was important."
Is that like more of a get to know you sort of thing or did you guys do some on-field work as well?
"No, we were working. We worked for two days as well. We were out there throwing routes and I ended up bringing Bennie Fowler along and Drew ended up liking Bennie, the way that he ran routes, he's a big receiver and so now he's at camp with me as well. So that's pretty cool."
On that note, any time, pandemic or not, it takes a little while to get adjusted to your new team, your new facility, that type of stuff. How has being or having to take all these protocols and not being able to be close to people affected how you're getting integrated with the team, if at all?
"I think everybody's trying to keep their distance, but at the end of the day, everybody's also trying to work, we're trying to get better. We're trying to stay true (to) protocols. Obviously we're wearing these bands around our wrist and it pretty much lets you know when you when you're not six feet apart and so on and the whole nine yards. Everybody's wearing a mask, everybody's trying to stay safe and take the COVID test every morning, so that makes everybody feel good to know that you get tested every morning and you know that you can walk around safe in the facility. I think Sean Payton those guys, they've got us up at the Loews and they've created a safe environment there as well, kind of created not a mandatory bubble, but a bubble for the guys who want to be a part of it. I'm staying at the Loews right now as well. I think the whole process has been good, it's been smooth and truthfully one thing about football players in general, we go through so much from the injuries, from being traded midseason to just everything so sometimes we're the best at midstream and adjusting so we're doing our best and I don't see it getting on anyone's nerves. Truthfully, we're just out here trying to win."
I know it's early, but what stands out about this Saints offense that's maybe different than some of the other offenses you've been in?
"I think It is Drew (Brees) and Drew works. I love it, like that guy, he goes to work every day. Every day he's coming to work with energies, like, nobody's going to outwork him. He's the hardest working guy, he reminds me a lot of Peyton (Manning). There's a reason why those guys are great. They work their butt off and it's not just from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint as well. They're sharp and they're on their toes about everything making sure that everybody's in the right place. It's been clicking on all cylinders, and I'm looking forward to it. Like I said, I'm trying to still get acclimated with the playbook. This is I think, (my) fifth day in a playbook. So I'm still trying to get acclimated with it and still trying to know where I'm supposed to be and how they want me to run the route and also add my flavor to it, but that's going to come. We've still got almost a month or so. I'm going to be digging in and hopefully within the next two weeks I'll know and we'll rocking and rolling on a high level because I definitely want to get that work started."
Did you get ten percent when a Bennis Fowler signed with the team?
"No, that's all love. That's all GP, all good people."
When you signed, you mentioned being eager to work with Michael Thomas and just because of all the attention he gets, just what have been your impressions of him and I know obviously the work has been limited?
"Mike is the best receiver in the league, hands down. I have been fortunate to play with Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown and this guy comes to work every single day. The way he's able to create separation just from press, release, from everything. I told him this, I said, I've been watching film on you for a couple years and I didn't realize how big you were until I got here. He's a physical specimen as well. We're watching film and I'm learning the playbook through watching him routes. I'm impressed almost every day just by the plays he makes and the way he just shoves guys off of him as well. I definitely think him and Julio (Jones) are up there for the best receivers in the league for sure. Just seeing what these guys can do."
Coach (Ronald) Curry, when he talked to us earlier in the summer said you kind of have to go back to your Denver days with Peyton Manning as far as what their vision for you was, and I know it's early, but how have you seen some of those similarities already show up as far as how they intend to use you?
"I think right now, the coaches (have) only see me running routes two times. We have not even started game planning and putting me in different places. I think right now they're just trying to get a feel for me. Yeah, they can watch the tape from 2014 and see how they can use it, but at the end of the day, I think that right now, they just want me to grasp the playbook at a specific position before they start moving me around and making my head spin because it's a lot of information I've got to get so it's all going to be a process. Hopefully, when it's all said and done, I want to be working in the slot a little bit and on the outside as well. That's where I'm trying to get to."
Is it kind of funny to hear that like, oh, they want to use me like they used me in Denver, and then you realize, oh, wait, that was six years ago?
"I think they're basing it off just (that) offense in general. That offense was a pass happy offense in which I put up big time numbers because it was a passing offense. I think that previous offenses that I've been in the past like four years were more predicated on the run than the pass and so 2014 was probably the only pass happy offense I've been in so I think that's what they're pretty much seeing. And I played a lot in the slot in that offense as well."
You and Bennie Fowler, you guys were just close from the time you were teammates in Denver?
"Bennie's been my boy ever since he came into the Broncos locker room. I took him under my wing and he became my workout buddy. So every Tuesday we would have days off, me and Bennie would meet up at the Broncos facility and throw passes for like an hour and work on our game and work on different mentalities. How to attack guys and so it's pretty cool that the fact that I was still in Denver and he left and went on to play with the Giants, and he was still living in Denver so we were working out together still doing our normal routine. And then Drew (Brees) comes in and Drew says that, like if I could bring another guy it would be good because he wanted to get some extra work in as well. So I told Bennie who was a free agent, so it worked out that way, which is pretty cool because now after every practice, me and him we would be stay after, just like we did in Denver, working on our game and catching passes. So it has been cool."
"Me and Bennie? I weigh 180 so I better be faster. He's like 6'2", 6'3."
I'm sure you have seen Drew Brees, watched his game, and I know you have just a couple of days with him, but what were your impressions of him as a passer? He said he worked a lot this offseason on his arm strength.
"His arm strength is there. We ran routes the past two days and Drew wants to end with a post ball every single time. I'm running, I'm running full out, fast as I can and he's putting it out there on the money. So his arm strength is there. Drew doesn't look like he's 41. I'm just going to put it that way. I mean, the way this guy works. The only thing that looks 41 is his mind. And that's a beautiful thing you can say. I'm looking forward to it because I see how he works. I see how he goes about his business and I want to get a Super Bowl with that guy. I want to play for that guy and give my all for guys like Drew Brees, by the way he goes about his business and how he handles people."
How big of a factor was Drew Brees, just in your decision in coming to New Orleans this spring?
"I think it was a big (factor). I think it was a passing offense. It was being close to home. I'm from Texas, being five hours away. That was a blessing to be close to my grandma so she didn't have to go on a flight. She can literally drive up and spend a month or two with me if she wanted to. Being in the Superdome, obviously I hope that we'll be able to get fans in there. Because last year playing with the Niners, playing in the Dome it was sweet playing on that turf and the crowd going crazy. I want that whole experience. I do not know if I'll be able to get it, but that's why I came. And I came here because I want to win and this is a winning organization and I also want to win another Super Bowl and I feel like this is the place that can make it happen."
Kind of related on that note, what was the Saints free agency pitch like? I imagine that going through that process this year was maybe a little bit different than previously just not having that person to person interaction. What was that like for you?
"It really was not a pitch. It was more of me, my agent reaching out to them saying I wanted to come. I had a couple offers from different teams, but did not want to go to those teams. I knew where I wanted to go. It was either here or back to San Francisco. Really I wanted to come here and play in a pass happy offense and so my agent reached out and Mickey (Loomis) got involved. He started playing with the numbers and we made it happen so I was excited about the whole process of it. And then I got out here. I didn't know too much about New Orleans, the city, being in Denver. But getting out here and seeing the environment and the city, man, this is a pretty cool place to live. I've been enjoying my time out here."
You have played with Ben (Roethlisberger), Peyton (Manning) and now Drew (Brees) this year. How are those guys similar and what are some things you notice as different between the three?
"I just focus on myself because then an article will get written up, Emmanuel Sanders (said this). But all of them are winners. All of them are special guys. We're talking first ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks. They've all got the same mentality. They want to put up points, throw the ball, sling it, want you to be in the right spot at the right time so they can get the ball off. And they all put the ball on the money and throw catchable passes. And so I'm just happy to be with another quarterback like that."
What are you sort of seeing in Jameis (Winston) and Taysom Hill?
"Yeah, I haven't been going with those guys because in the walk-thru we split up ones and twos, but Jameis, man, he works his butt off and Taysom works his butt off. That is what I've seen on the field."
Do you think playing with a ton of quarterbacks in Denver throughout your career's made it easier for you to build chemistry when you get with a new guy?
"Yeah, I think just being in the league so long. I mean, I think that building chemistry is all about the work ethic of both of the guys, right? Drew (Brees) has an extraordinary work ethic and I think my work ethic is up there as well. I want to get it right. I don't care if we're running the go ball and he over throws me. I'm running back and I'm jogging back and I'm getting another go ball. I'm going until we complete it and that's the mindset of doing what I've got to do, because I love winning. And I know what is at stake here. I know that this is a Super Bowl and bust season. We've got all the pieces to do something special. Why not us? That's my mentality every time I wake up and come to work and I'm ready to go. Like I know there's going to come a time, hopefully, when the season comes about it's going to be make or break. And all we're going to have is the hard work that we put in to really rely on and the team chemistry we built."
You mention your grandma being close, I remember you saying when you signed that she was really excited about you joining the Saints. Has she hit you up for some free gear yet?
"Not yet. I need to send her some gear though. She's got her restaurant that she's been working on. It's called Sanders' Kitchen in my hometown. She's been busy with that, as of lately. But, I'm going to get her out here and get her in some Saints gear. I am sure she's already ordered some, knowing her."
Number 17 was already taken by a young guy here, Emmanuel Butler, did it take much convincing to let you have that?
"I didn't even really talk to him, I told the Saints I wanted to be 17 and then I was just 17. But Emmanuel, that guy man, he comes to work every day and he has a laid back, chill personality, but we're all trying to work to work to master playbook, so sometimes I'll lean on those guys and ask those guys questions because they've been here one to two years. It's been cool just to be around the group."