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Transcript: James Hurst conference call 3/16/21

Saints offensive lineman reflects on the past season and expresses excitement about rejoining the team


New Orleans Saints Offensive Lineman James Hurst
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Opening remarks:
"Very excited, very excited, very honored. It's a huge blessing. The timing in my life right now and my career, and obviously what's going on in the country and the world, there's just a lot of uncertainty. So being able to sign a contract in a great city with a great team, with great coaches and teammates, it's unbelievable. My wife and I, we just feel so blessed. We're so excited to get back down there and get things started again."

You talked about the uncertainty, but what were some of the other reasons you wanted to come back and play for this team again?
"Well, last season, was honestly some of the most fun I've had playing football in a long time. There's so much that goes into a team, the teammates, the coaches, the scheme, the coaching style, the locker room, the city, the people you meet. So there's so many variables, and everything just felt right. My wife and I were so comfortable being there. And we felt instantly welcomed, instantly respected by coaches and teammates, and just felt wanted. And that was a really good feeling, to know that and to feel comfortable, and just going to work every day and having fun. Obviously, we had a ton of success last year. You want to improve that every single year and that's what I'm excited to do."

Can you talk about the continuity along the offensive line, and kind of the bond you've built with the guys in the locker room over the last year?
"Yeah, they were so welcoming, such good guys, obviously, a lot of great players in that (locker) room. And just to be able to come back to seemingly the same group, it's a huge deal. I think the older I've gotten, the more I've realized there's so much turnaround in the NFL. Every single year, guys leave, guys are traded, guys sign (at) other places. So just to come back to a room that has so much stability and so much talent, it's a lot of fun. It's really exciting to be a part of that and to bring everything I've got to the table."

You just touched kind of the continuity there, but I guess when you signed last season, there was obviously starters at every position, but you still ended up playing a lot. They found different ways to get you in there. I guess just how much did that affect your decision or make you want to come back and play more knowing that they're going to create opportunities?
"Yeah, it definitely helps. They were very clear about my role, about how they saw me getting on the field, and it played out that way. Obviously, during the season a lot of things can happen, and injuries happen. And guys (have) got to step up and play and do their best. But yeah, I think the communication between the front office and the coaches and myself was very clear. And I was extremely happy with that. I loved the role I was in last year. I just really felt like I had a part in helping our team succeed from time to time, and that was a really good feeling."

And then if I could just get your reaction, obviously, it was announced Jameis Winston re-signed, and you knew Taysom (Hill) was coming back, just talk about being able to work with the same guys again.
"Yeah, that's exciting. Both of those guys are incredibly talented, they both bring obviously different things to the table, but just it's a rare situation when you've got two guys that are so talented on the same team. Normally it's a one quarterback league, and that's what we're used to, and that's what usually works. But just having both those guys on the team, they're both unbelievable teammates, both work so hard, they have so much talent, so I know that whatever happens is all gonna work out and it's really just a plus for our team to have two guys like that."

I know you obviously got a chance to work with Drew Brees last year, I know obviously he's announced his retirement, but just the thought on getting that year with him?
"Yeah, man, just an honor. Unbelievable, so much fun. You grow up as a kid and you see guys like that on TV. And you hear stories about, 'Hey, they're the first one into work, the last one to leave, they're great people.' All those kind of cliché sayings, but he was everything in that and more. Unbelievable teammate, unbelievable leader. He led by example and he led by what he said to the team. So it was an honor to play with someone of that caliber and to be welcomed by him as a teammate."

As you head into the offseason programs, what are you looking to work on and improve?
"I think every year presents its own challenges and going to a new place last year kind of gives you a better picture of things you need to work on. I loved our coaches, Coach (Dan) Roushar, Coach (Brendan) Nugent, they're both unbelievable. So I think just having had a year under my belt there and understand the scheme and what we need to do, just generally getting stronger, more flexible, more mobile, you've got to keep your feet A-plus, they've got to be working all the time. So I think if I can work on that, be more mobile, more athletic, and be able to bend really and create those good power angles you need to be successful on the offensive line, I think that'll help me a lot."

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