New Orleans Saints Linebacker A.J. Klein
Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
If you don't mind the personal question, how special has this week been and what's it like mixing all that with training camp?
"Oh, it's been a lot. Obviously, I had my baby girl born on the 27th that night, missing that one day of practice and coming back for first day of pads and then (my) birthday today and trying to make trips back and forth to my house to spend some time with my wife and both the kids. It's been a lot this week, but been able to handle it has been a true blessing, really is to be able to be here to play football and obviously have my family grow at the same time."
As one of the veteran leaders on this defense and even as a veteran in the National Football League, how would you look at the past five days of practices and how would you assess it?
"I think it has been a good start. I really think we have been working hard. We have been detailed for the most part. Just today, I think we had a few mental errors that should not happen, whether it is a communication error or just a complete bust on the defense. But it is expected. Like I said, (on) day five or whatever it is, those mistakes are expected. We have a long time, well not a long time, 10 days I think until the first preseason game. So, (there will be) growing pains, but we shouldn't be making those mistakes is what my point is. We'll (watch) film this afternoon and come back out not tomorrow but the next day and get it fixed. It was day one of third downs so there are going to be mistakes."
Do you feel like those mistakes are more easily identified or corrected with a defense that hasn't seen much turnover of personnel?
"Yeah. I think everybody on this defense is pretty knowledgeable, especially at the linebacker group. We have a great understanding of the defense, even the DBs. Everybody understands what's supposed to happen and when it doesn't happen, we don't need the coaches to tell us what went wrong. We know what went wrong right away and we're on the sideline correcting it. Obviously, we're looking for those techniques and coaching points when we get into the film room. But I think this defense does a great job of coaching itself."
To have so many guys back, with 10 of the top 11 in starters on defense all back. How nice is that to start training camp where you can start with such a level of understanding on and off the field?
"Oh, it's great because it breeds continuity. Obviously having the same faces around and obviously adding some new pieces. So, it's exciting. We're really happy with where we are. But like I said earlier, we have a long way to grow, but having so many guys back definitely makes it easy to continue to grow fast."
You guys were so good in so many areas last year, but how do you go from good to great? How do you separate yourself?
"We have touched on it in meetings, but, I think starting off, we need to be better on third down. We need to create more turnovers. We really do not put an emphasis on total yards. We want to be one of the top five in points allowed. Obviously, that's one of our goals, but I'd say third down, two minute and situational defenses. I think those are areas that we put an emphasis on and try to improve. And obviously day one of third down is important. I think if we improve in those areas, we're going to be a really good defense and continue to be a great defense against the run on first and second down. It's just our third down (that) needs to improve."