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Transcript: New Orleans Saints tight end Tommy Stevens training camp interview - Friday, Aug. 21

Stevens talks position change at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints tight end Tommy Stevens
Training camp video call with New Orleans edia
Friday, Aug. 21, 2020

What has been the biggest difference you've noticed in these first few training camp sessions, from the college game to the pro game, what you're grasping in terms of your role with the Saints right now?
"I think obviously the biggest difference is, for me is, just the things that I am doing right now. I guess I've never really, just been a tight end before. Obviously I've done some things as far as like, drill work and things like that. But just being a tight end right now, has been different for me, but (I'm) still doing some similar things I've done in the past. So, it's been fun. The speed of the game is fast. You know, I went from playing in the Big 10 (and) playing in the SEC. Obviously I've played a lot of these guys (that) have played in those types of conferences. So, speed has been fast, but it is not overwhelmingly fast. So far it's been fun. It's been a good time. Obviously there's a learning curve but, I'm having a good time so far."

Is the learning curve for you slowing the game down some? And how are you enjoying the role of playing tight end, because as you said, it's not something you've done full time?
"You know, not necessarily. I have not really thought of it as like I need to slow the game down. I guess you can take it that way. I'm more so, kind of honing in on technique and trying to figure out how to play the position, basically. So, those have been the things that I've been focusing on the most. But I haven't really looked at it like, alright slow down, and doing it that way. I've just been more focused on learning from the older guys, asking a lot of questions and just trying to take note of everything."

Does that make it more of a grinding process for you? Because, again, as you said, it's not familiar. It's not totally familiar to you?
"I guess so. It is the next step up for me. It was always the way that I guess imagined it happening. In speaking, basically saying like, going into the NFL is what I meant by that. So I knew that always it was going to be tougher. But it hasn't been anything overwhelming. I love it. I love it here. I'm having a great time and I'm just trying to take it day by day."

Can you take us through how you wound up with the tight ends? Obviously when they drafted you, they mentioned a lot of different positions you could potentially end up. But how did you wind up working with the tight ends specifically?

"They hit me up and they were like, hey, we want to start you know, showing you some things as far as you know, a role in tight ends. And I guess that, it really wasn't like a long drawn out process. It was kind of like, we're going to start teaching because the whole offseason I was learning the offense as a quarterback. So they got me in, they got me to start going over some of these things as a tight end. So that was really, really all we did. And since then, it's just been all tight end stuff."

Did learning the offense as a quarterback kind of help you to maybe now you know, or I can just focus on learning the techniques? Or did that kind of give you any benefits?

"Yeah, it definitely helped me more in the pass game, I should say. But, so I basically had to kind of relearn all of the run game. Just because I was looking at it from a quarterback's perspective and I didn't really know all the details of (what) the tight end was going to be doing. But (in) the pass game, learning it conceptually has really helped me and it's definitely shown up in practice and knowing what to do."

When was the first day that you started working with the tight ends, specifically and no more quarterback anymore?
"Honestly, I couldn't tell you. I do not remember exactly. I do not even know what day it is today. I think it's Friday. Since we've started practice I've been a tight end, so I've done that. We kind of had some meetings and stuff like that before we started practicing and it was sometime during that process. But once we got on the field and started doing actual work and running through plays, I've been a tight end since.

To what extent to which you expect the tight end designation to define you football wise. Because obviously, we have seen tight ends, who do a number of different things, including even 10 years ago, David Thomas would line up at fullback sometimes. So your versatility seems to be something that is valued. So I'm just curious as to how much you're seeing yourself going forward as a conventional tight end or not? And the second part is have you, to what extent have you closed the book on playing quarterback professionally in the future?
"I would say it is not really in my hands. I think I have kind of said really, since for as long as I can remember, at least I'm always going to do whatever's asked of me by the team, by the organization. So, that carries back to even when I was in high school, I did a lot of things early as a young guy and then kind of transitioned into a quarterback role. So, from the first part of your question, I remember you saying something about closing the book. I haven't closed the book on playing quarterback. I think this is just kind of, you know where we're at right now. And, I definitely don't think that learning like this and learning the tight end position can hurt me in any way. So right now I'm doing everything that I can to be the best tight end that I can, like I said right now, but if they asked me to play quarterback tomorrow or next week or next year, it really doesn't matter to me, I'm going to continue to do whatever I can, as best as I can. And help make this team as good as I can."

Have you talked to Taysom Hill much just about you know, just doing both of those things and just all that versatility that he displayed? Have you leaned on him a lot?
"Yeah, Taysom (Hill) has been great. He has been (great)…and I say just Taysom but, all the older guys have been really, really good to me and really have taken me under their wing you could say, butTaysom specifically. I had some questions for him, even before I got to the building. Just talking to him, and, obviously, I was really, really excited to meet him, to meet everybody here. But given the similarities that you could say we have as a player, I respect his game, love the way that he plays. AndI think that he can be the model for younger guys. You think of the definition of a football player, at least in my opinion, is a tough guy that can do multiple things to help a team. So I love the way that he plays and he's been great. He's been great for me."

Obviously you played in the Big 10, and you played in the SEC, and that's two conferences, doing two different things as far as this COVID-19. And just kind of want to get your thoughts on, you know, what do you think about what both conferences have decided to do, so far?
"I have not really thought about it too much, honestly. And I think it, it sucks for my guys that I still know that are Penn State. And, obviously my guys at Mississippi State are still playing right now. So I think that everybody is trying to do the best for the situation and obviously it is not something that I'm really not, I would not say aware of but, I'm no expert in the what to do, what not to do. So I am not really going to go into that. But hopefully, there's something that they can do for those guys in the Big 10 and we'll see what happens with the guys in the SEC."

You mentioned the veteran guys in the room that you're working with, but you've got another rookie in there too in Adam Trautman. What's it been like working with him, a guy who has played that position for a while?
"Yeah, Traut is actually probably the guy I have actually really spent the most time with during this thing and just learning from him. Obviously Traut has played the position for a long time. There is a lot that I can learn from him too. It goes without saying, (he is a) very talented player, who is very sought after, and I think we are lucky to have him. He's been awesome. Obviously, he's a guy that's closer to my age and we're kind of going through this thing together as rookies and I'm really excited for him. He's been great. He's been really really good. He's been working a lot with the other group. So I've been going with Griff and you know, like I said, there's a lot of different things that we've been able to, air a lot of different situations I should say. It's given me you know, different opportunities to talk to guys and learn. And that's really been the coolest thing for me, is just getting a lot of different perspective, from each guy, from each coach. And just trying to, you know, to mold and you know, take it all in like a sponge, just trying to learn as many ways as possible. And at the end of the day, just trying to play fast and doing what I can."

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