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Transcript - Justin Hardee Conference Call 10/2/20 | Week 4 vs. Lions

New Orleans Saints defensive back Justin Hardee talks about the special teams units and the Saints secondary depth prior to Week 4 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, October 4, 2020.

New Orleans Saints Defensive Back Justin Hardee
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, October 2, 2020

I just want to ask you about just the commitment this team has to special teams in general in just bringing in guys like you, J.T. (Gray) and (Marquez) Callaway. What's that dynamic like just knowing you play for a team that values that aspect of the game so much?
"Well, It's obviously how I've made a living thus far, got my head start in a league and I would definitely say that Coach Sean Payton (knows) it's just as important as offense and defense. Special teams can change games as we've seen. It helped us win the first game so hopefully going into Sunday, special teams can help us make some big plays help us win this Sunday."

Coach (Darren) Rizzi was telling me last week just about how often you get double-teamed and in a teams'. I know like maybe sometimes you aren't always making a tackle, but how much satisfaction do you get out of seeing other guys be able to make plays because the attention you draw?
"I mean, of course I'm happy for guys, but even getting double-teamed again, game plan, I still feel like need to find a way. I feel like there's no excuse, my team counts on me so I need to get down there and make plays regardless whether they're sending 11 at me. I want be the guy to make the play if I'm not then somebody else is doing it, but like I said, of course, I don't care, whatever they bring I'm trying to make the play."

What does your preparation look like with stuff like that when you know guys are gameplanning against you? I think most people probably look at it like you're a gunner, you're just beating the guy and going down, but like how much studying and that goes into your approach each week?
"Yeah, so I just study the guys, study some of the opponents that they want against, just try to not necessarily compare, but just try to see a guy that has some similarities to me and how they played against him and just try to take advantage of it. Like I said, try not to make any excuses whether they're doubling or tripling me, just trying to go out there and make a play regardless."

Who are some of the guys you see as comparable to yourself?
"I'd say J.T. (Gray), but I really wouldn't know any other special teamer in the league that I would necessarily compare myself to because I'm a different type of player. But a guy that I've always looked up to was Matthew Slater. A guy that I've been in touch with for the past few years, just because he said he loved the way I play the game. We got in touch with each other here and there and we're good friends. That's one of the guys I would say that I look up to."

Injury reports come out and Marshon (Lattimore) and Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) are both out. How do you feel about the depth that you have there within the secondary and at corner?
"We're confident in our guys. Next guy up and those guys Marshon and Janoris, they've always worked, worked, worked. It's unfortunate they won't be able to play this week. So, we have to have their back. I went up to those guys and said, 'Hey, we've got your back. Whoever's out there, we're definitely going to put on a show.' And I believe in our group and I believe in our defense."

Matthew Slater's probably a Hall of Famer just off of being a special teams guy. What was some of the stuff you you have been able to pick up just from talking to him?
"Well, I remember back when I was an undrafted rookie while I was with Houston, that was actually a guy that I studied. And I had no idea who he was or really what he did, but one of the special teams coaches up there, I said, 'Hey, man, I want (you) to watch some film. I want (you) to be great at special teams.' And he put some Matthew Slater film on. I think it was around like, 2014, '15. From the years that he showed me, he was just so relentless, man, he was just so relentless getting after the ball, playing hard and would like to say that I took some of that to my game. I believe that's why I believe I go hard, of course, that's not up to me. But I would say I definitely took some his tactics and added it to my game and I believe it's been beneficial and I just want to get better."

With you and P-Rob (Patrick Robinson) and now Ken Crawley's on your practice squad, he can get called up if that's what they choose to do. Just the veteran leadership that you have in that room up even outside of Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) and Marshon (Lattimore), how important is that? Even when they are healthy, right? Just keep everybody focused and continue towards the goal.
"(We) definitely have a lot of leadership. It's crazy because I was talking to some of the guys like me, Marshon (Lattimore) and Marcus (Williams), we all came in together. We've watched his group grow over the years and the crazy thing now is like, we're kind of like the older guys now going into year four. We've added a lot of talent and a lot of experience with a Malcolm (Jenkins) and also D.J. Swearinger. Guys who I feel like have stepped up a lot, big time, and just get getting the group on one accord. I feel like those guys have definitely handled it well. (We're) not where we want to be, of course, but definitely on the way to success as a group."

How much does the position flexibility that some of the secondary players that you have, how beneficial is that especially this week?
"Yeah. I mean, the more you can do, the better. We've got some guys that play nickel, safety and corner. And that's a great thing. It's like I said, the more valuable you are, the better you are in this league. I believe that's something that we'll be able to take advantage of this weekend with a few guys out."

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