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Transcript: New Orleans Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson training camp interview - Friday, Aug. 28

Gardner-Johnson spoke with media on his second year growth at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Defensive Back C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Training Camp Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, August 28, 2020

You've made our jobs harder as we're trying to figure out how to type your name and everything. Can you just explain what you meant by wanting to be Ceedy Duce meaning like, are you even exploring like a legal name change? Are you just talking about a nickname that means a lot to you, what's the background there?
"It's complicated. But, at the end of the day it's like right now, I'm focused on football. My coaches call me "Ducey". So that's why I put the word Duce. And I put "Ceedy" because it's something that like, I'm my own person, I'm my own person. I got (Gardner) with my biological dad, changed my name (added Johnson) for my stepdad. But I feel like going into year two I want to be about myself. I just want to be focused on, how can I help my team win the Super Bowl? Like what's my best option. But, the name change is something I want to go by. And the legal part, we'll talk about that later. But right now I'm just focused on football, ready to win football games."

So both are okay to use in print? You're not offended if somebody still calls you C.J. Gardner-Johnson?
"No, I'm not."

Going from year one to year two. How do you feel that you've grown from last year to this year?
"I feel like this year was a good year. I feel like definitely with what's going on now, having Malcolm (Jenkins) coming, having an older guy who's been there, done that, won two Super Bowls. I feel like we're learning as a defense on how to be a team something that's together. And being together is just like, knowing your assignment, knowing your alignment, knowing who you are, knowing your role on the team and just being there for each other."

Coach Payton says you are playing multiple roles on defense. You played multiple roles last year. How much more familiar with it are you and how much more effective do you believe you can be?
"Very dynamic. Wherever they put me, I'm going to play. I'm not really worried about who's in my way. Coach Payton drafted me for a reason, and to be a dynamic player. That is what I did last year. And this year, I am going to keep doing the same thing. Keep improving mentally, as a person as a player, just going in, focusing on my job and doing what I have to do. Because at the end of the day, I know I am good at what I do. So there is no need for me to continue to try to outdo myself. If that makes sense."

How much mentally do you have to put into it because you play multiple positions on defense?
"A lot. You have to go home and study like, this is not a game. Like DA (Dennis Allen) said, the game's 90% mental toughness, 10% physical. So, the moment I can go out there and be 90% mental and focus on my job, cool. (The) Physical part can come later because everybody know, you can (work your way up) to be 210 pounds, 215 pounds. It does not mean anything if you don't know what you're doing on that field."

What's the most difficult thing you had to do? What's the thing that's like that kind of stresses your skills the most if you're doing a bunch of different things?
"Oh, it's not really stressed. It is more of how can I dial in and put everything into a box to make sure that I'm on point for my teammates. So it is not really a stress, it is my job. I wake up, eat, sleep, dream, football. So, my job is to go out there and do my assignment and do what I got to do."

Can you give me your scouting report on Alvin Kamara, as a fellow versatile guy that you line up across the field from all the time?
"As a jack of all trades, you can't really put your finger on one thing. He can run the ball, catch the ball. He also can just be that all-around dynamic back for the whole offense. Like I said he can go out on a Y, come in the slot, he goes in the backfield. So, it throws the team off by seeing a guy like him move around and do what they have to do every day."

How beneficial, helpful has it been for you and all the other young DBs to have Malcolm Jenkins specifically in that room now?
"It's been easy. Like with Malcolm (Jenkins), he opened our eyes to what's more than just football. You got to study the game. You got to actually study your opponent's habits, your opponents, like what do they do for their daily game routine. It's something they go in with every Sunday. So that's something you have got to pay attention to. Okay, his stance, his alignment. Okay. What is he looking at for the play? What is he not looking at for the play? So, stuff like that. I like that he's teaching those little things. It's just helping us grow as a defense."

When Taysom Hill comes in there, what is your thought changed to as a defensive back? I mean, obviously, you have to be on the lookout for all different stuff with him, I guess?
"Get ready to get physical. Because he is tough (and) he is an athlete. He is the ultimate competitor. He's a definition of a Saints player and the Saints way. Somebody who's going to get it done regardless, on offense, special teams, which is considered a defensive player (on some of what he does on coverage). So he's somebody that you got to really take home to because that's a guy that really gets the team going with how he plays. And you can see last year, I think it was Minnesota. We were down, made a couple big runs, big plays and sparked the whole team and got everybody going. So a guy like Taysom is somebody you can really rally around, because you see you make plays on special teams, blocked punts, you see him do a lot of things. So a guy like me just sits back and (has the opportunity to) just learn from him. Because sometimes it might not be his day. Sometimes it might be the next guy's day to make a play on defense or special teams. So just learning from a guy like Taysom (Hill) and seeing him step on that field and give his ultimate and give his all, is just something that you've got to see, so you got to go and match him."

We kind of hear about like the positionless player on defense. Do you consider yourself as like a guy with a position or do you think about it?
"Put me anywhere. I don't really care. I just go out there and play football."

You said a few weeks ago you're ready for Gronk (Rob Gronkowski). How do you feel about week one?
"Let's go! How am I supposed to feel? Everybody got this whole , around this game. Let's just play football. Like, I realized it is more than just Gronk, it's Tampa Bay. Enough with the offseason talk, now we're in camp, I'm with my teammates, we (are) playing ball. So, now it's going out there having fun. And how can we practice better and get better than the next team each day when we step on that field? And I feel like in a couple of weeks, we're going to be ready."

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