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Transcript of press conference by Saints Executive VP/GM Mickey Loomis

New Orleans Saints Executive VP/GM Mickey Loomis

2021 Training Camp Presented by SeatGeek

Press Conference with Local Media

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

What can you tell us about the opener and what the process is like to pick a venue? Who is working on that decision?

"The league office is obviously working on it along with the two clubs involved. There's a number of people involved in any decision, obviously. We'll have an announcement at some point as to what we're going to do. We don't have that yet, but it'll be forthcoming, I'm sure."

Is there any chance the home opener against Green Bay will be in New Orleans or has that been ruled out?

"I don't know that yet. Again, we'll have an announcement hopefully today. When that decision is final, we'll let everyone know."

Coach Payton mentioned they're preparing to be out of New Orleans for at least 4 weeks. Are there any solidified plans as to where the team will be housed?

"Yeah, we've got a firm plan for the next week of preparation. We'll do that here in Dallas. We have a place to practice and a place for our team to stay. We'll have an announcement for that later today as well."

What are the rules when it comes to the home opener? Does it have to be in an NFL stadium? What are some of the criteria you're looking at if you don't play in New Orleans?

"Well, a couple things, I think it does have to be in an NFL stadium. Because of league play and some of the other issues, there has to be availability relative to the home team and any other events that might be in those facilities. Each week, I know the league office has a number of sites that they have identified as open in case of a disaster and a team having to move their home game. I think the league is really well prepared in terms of having the game moved on such a short notice."

Would you say you're cautious of moving to a place to give Green Bay a home field advantage?

"Well, we're cautious of everything when it comes to preparing for an opponent. The main thing is that we have to have an NFL ready stadium. There's just so many variables that I don't want to get into, but the main thing is to have a suitable place to play that both teams have access to."

What has the process been like for the pro personnel staff trying to fill out the roster away from New Orleans?

"It's been pretty good. Our video and IT people have done a great job of getting our technology to us. They've got us all the film and all the things we normally have access to. Really, the only difference is instead of being in separate offices reviewing lists and analyzing each guy individually, we're all in the same room. I like it, actually. There's some give and take, some feedback and discussion back and forth that you ordinarily don't get by sitting in your office making your own evaluations. It's actually been a decent process."

Is the idea of a Monday night game against Green Bay a possibility or will that game still be played on a Sunday?

"I think ideally it will be in the same time slot (9/12 at 3:25). Those decisions get made collectively by the league and the clubs. We'll have an announcement about that later today."

Have you guys finalized plans to practice at TCU or are other options still available?

"We're going to have an announcement about that later today. That's certainly one of the top candidates for us (to practice at). I expect that announcement to be within an hour or two."

What are the next few days going to be like for the football operations staff?

"I think the next few days will actually be similar to if we were in New Orleans. The players have a couple of days off. Our coaching staff has a few days off and will be doing some preparation in that time as well. Our operations staff is going to be frantically at work setting up the technology and things we need to get ready for our game against the Green Bay Packers."

How much has your past experience dealing with events like Hurricane Katrina help you in an unprecedented time like this?

"We've got a number of people in our building that were here when we evacuated for Katrina. We've also had a number of times we've had to evacuate since that time, so we're familiar with the evacuation process and what we need to do. I think it went relatively smooth. I wouldn't say it was smooth, but I think it was relatively smooth given all the logistics that have to be handled in an event like this."

What have been the challenges for you during this time?

"Well, I think there's a lot of challenges. It's just a mountain of things. The approach you have to take is solving one problem at a time. One of the things that happens is that you have a number of people in the building with players and staff that haven't been through this before. There's a little more uncertainty with them, so we do the best we can to communicate with them in what we're trying to accomplish. We're making sure we have an open line of communication if someone has an individual problem that we need to get solved. I have to go through many different things that I don't have enough time to talk about here, but I think it's just making sure we're communicating. That's the one thing we try to do really well."

What's your response to teams like the Falcons and Ravens donating to help hurricane relief efforts?

"I think that's one of the cool things about our league. We're competitors and compete really hard on the field. We want to beat their brains out on the field just like they want to beat ours, but when there's a crisis, I feel like the NFL family is always the first ones to step up. I can't tell you how many calls and texts I've gotten from people around the league offering any kind of help, whether it's financial, physical, or offering words of encouragement and support. That's one of the great things about the NFL."

Obviously AT&T Stadium can offer almost a home-like option to host, but if that is not an available option, what unique obstacles are there playing an almost completely road schedule?

"We don't plan on playing a completely road schedule. We plan on playing a lot of home games at home in the Superdome this year. That's what we expect to do. I don't think there's anything too unique about playing on the road in week 1 because we do that in weeks 2 and 3. The only unique thing is we'll be departing from here (Dallas) and we'll prepare here (Dallas) in the week leading up to the game."

How does the process work of potentially adding players over the next couple of days? Is there a space to conduct tryouts?

"I don't anticipate anything being different, but if we need to have a tryout, we'll fly players into Dallas and work them out at a local field. I don't see that being a lot different, I really don't."

Did you say earlier you expect to have an announcement about the opener today? Does that mean you're getting close to locking something up?

"I did say today the second time. I don't know if that will be today for sure. That's not coming from us, that will be coming from the league in conjunction with the teams involved. I'm not putting that out. I did say today though. I hope it's today, but don't know if that will be today."

Obviously, you faced a lot of challenges putting together this roster with Drew Brees retiring and cutting $100 million off due to the salary cap. How do you feel about the team you put together with Jameis Winston in hopes of winning a fifth consecutive division title?

"I think we feel really good about our team. We feel good about it because of the demonstrated ability these guys have had with our team. I like the things we've done in the preseason and training camp. I like the leadership and play we've had from the quarterbacks with Jameis (Winston) and Taysom (Hill) having his role. I do feel good about our team."

What is the morale of the organization right now?

"I think it's really good. One thing that happens when you have adversity like this is that you can get really focused. I feel like our staff and our team is really focused. We have a little break here. The uniqueness of not having a fourth preseason game this year and having to cancel our third preseason game (Hurricane Ida), I don't want to say it couldn't have been better, but it's nice to have a few days to reset, catch your breath and get prepared before heading into the regular season."

How did the lack of a third preseason game affect how you made roster decisions, and how do you feel about your initial 53-man roster?

"I don't know that it affected it. There's a small group of players we would've liked to have one more look at in a game circumstance. I can't say that it really changed what our 53-man roster would've ultimately looked like. I like having preseason games and I think those are great opportunities for guys to step up and demonstrate their abilities. I feel bad for those guys that didn't get that opportunity, but ultimately I don't think it affected our initial 53-man roster."

Is Michael Thomas (PUP list) eligible to come back after the bye week in week 6?


Did you put in more waiver claims today than ever before because of the significant roster turnover?

"Those are due in about an hour or so. We haven't put any in yet, but I do anticipate that we may put some in. I won't say that we will put some in, but we are discussing that right now. I wouldn't say we put any more claims in than we usually do."

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