Transcript: QB Drew Brees training camp media availability 7-26-19

New Orleans QB Drew Brees
2019 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Friday, July 26, 2019 Post-Practice Media Availability

* Have you heard from Mike (Thomas)?*
“I worked with him this summer. I haven't spoken with in the last few days."

You’re one of the teams that can make it to the Super Bowl, you have great talent everywhere and the first question we ask is about a holdout from one of your major pieces. Can you talk about how that is?
“A contract is part of this game, or contract negotiations, and so, we'll let this play out, but (I’m) confident that's there'll be an agreement reached at some point and when there does then he'll be back and we'll be ready to roll.” 

What are your impressions so far with Emmanuel Butler?
“He just keeps making plays when he is given opportunities. He is a big, physical looking target. He's got a big catch radius. You feel confident throwing to a guy like that because there's a lot of places you can throw it where he has an opportunity at it, plus he's big, physical, good body control. (I) just look forward to working with him more and seeing what he might be able to offer."

Do you still get excited for training camp?
“Yeah, absolutely. This is where it all truly begins. You obviously worked very hard during the offseason on certain things, whether that be on your own and then as that transitions into OTAs and minicamp, but here we are in training camp where you really start stacking those bricks so to speak to build the foundation by which we're going to be able to do great things this year.”

How would you describe the way Alvin (Kamara) is? A couple guys have been talking about how he's like an A-list celebrity, but you would never really know it just being around him personally. 
“He’s got a pretty low-key personality. He's a fun-loving guy. There's never really a time where I don't see a smile on his face, where he doesn't look like he's just enjoying being around the guys in the locker room, just little things out here on the field. You watch us during what you'd call just a really fundamental quarterback/running back exchange period where we're just working on footwork and timing with run plays and such. And yet after our rep, we'll play catch, we mess around with option pitches and he’s smiling, laughing and we're goofing around a little bit, but it's a way to break up the monotony. But it also just shows that this is a game and we're going to enjoy it. We're going to have fun. We enjoy being around each other. When it’s time to work, it's time to work (and) when it's time to have fun, we can have fun doing it as well.”

You guys spread the ball around so much traditionally. What changed when Michael Thomas (joined the team)? What is it about him or is it about the offense as well? 
“Well, he's a really versatile player. It's not like he just lines up in one place and everybody can target him. We move him around a lot and allow him to do a lot of different things. It wasn't always like that. In his first year here when he began to show that he could be that dominant type feature guy, he was really kind of in one spot at the time and we had really limited what we did with him at that time. As he has gotten into this offense, and I think as his understanding, confidence and comfort level with it has grown. It allows us to put him in a lot of places, which I think he understands too. That is just going to give him more opportunities. Credit to him and then credit to our staff and what we're able to do creatively to put him in positions to get the ball.”

Does (Michael Thomas) get about as much double coverage as you've ever seen from a receiver that you've worked with? 
“There were some gameplans this year that were pretty unbelievable as far as just the amount of attention and the amount of respect really. The message I send to other guys when that happens is that it opens up opportunities for you, right? And then the better that you can then perform and take advantage of those opportunities, the more that then it forces teams to get out of that and then it is going to open up the “Mike” opportunities again. Those are complementary. They work together.” 

Is that a big part of having Jared Cook, to open up opportunities?
“Absolutely. When you can have a dominant outside guy, slot, someone who plays inside, whether it be a tight end or a slot, and then someone coming out of the backfield, just think about what a difference, how that challenges the defense. At the end of the day, you can't double all those guys. You're going to have one-on-ones. You're going to have matchups and defenses are going to try to mix it up and at times are going to take some chances. And when they do, you're ready for it and you try to take advantage of those, exploit those.”

When you bring in a player like Jared (Cook), what's the process like for you to start getting synchronized with him? Is it just time on task in reps?
“Yes. It's time on task in reps because as much as you sit there and you can watch film and say, ‘Hey, this is what I'm seeing and you're seeing,’ or just talk through it, it does not replicate the deep practice or just that element that just sinks in once it actually happens for real on the field. So, to give you an example, there was a play that happened on the field today that we talked about back during OTAs, but it just had not happened yet. And it happened in practice today. I could see our ability to execute it and then to talk about it after, it now has become kind of like that mile and it's wrapped around the nerve ending in your body. It is there. It happened. You saw it, you felt it, we executed it. Now when that comes up again, there's that confidence level in knowing that we've done this, we executed it. You need those things to occur. You can't just talk about it. You can't just look at it on film. You have got to go out and actually feel it and do it. The more that camp goes on, I'm hoping that there are a a couple of those each day so that by the time the real games come around then we have got all that stuff logged away.”

How (Jared Cook) runs a route, I assume, is different than Coby Fleener or Jimmy Graham, even though you probably run the same routes for some tight ends. Does that take time to learn?
“Yeah, it does. It's just the nuances. I can draw a route on paper, but then I could show you three different coverages where you're running that route three different ways. It is just our understanding of seeing and feeling the same thing and then just the trust that ‘hey, I know he's going to be there,’ as that ball's coming out and he knows the ball's going to be there. He knows the timing of which it's going to be there. He knows when he's got to speed it up. He knows when he can be patient."

What was is like going up against Ed Reed?
“Ed Reed. Oh Man. I mean truly one of those guys that you had to know where he was and he was in the middle of the field (the) majority of the time because he was just such a ballhawk safety and had such great fielding instincts. Balls that you could throw and fit in against everybody else, that just wasn't going to happen against Ed Reed unless he was way out of the picture. Right. I remember early on in my career watching film on him and the ball would be snapped and the quarterback would maybe take just a couple steps into his drop and Ed Reed would just go, he would go somewhere. You would say, ‘what is he looking at?’ And all of a sudden, here is the quarterback, he is looking, ball is thrown and he's there to make the play. And it is like, but he was not supposed to be there. And so, from a quarterback's perspective, it's frustrating cause you're like, at the snap I look forward and he was there and I looked over here and he wasn't supposed to be there. It's just that knowledge and understanding of the game, just a great feel for the game. Extreme intelligence and then playmaking ability, like when he got the ball in his hands – I think he has the most interception return yards in NFL history if I’m not mistaken -- he was dangerous and he was truly like a punt returner at that point. One of the greatest safeties of all time.”

How much do you embrace coaching at this point in your career given you have seen probably everything? You may know things before even a coach recognizes something. How do you still embrace that?
“That's the fun part in a lot of ways. That's what keeps you young. I feel like I have lived it so many times that I know the way it is supposed to look. I know the way it is supposed to feel, I know the timing. As I sit there and communicate that to a young guy, I can sit there and just tell him story after story about rep after rep that would back that up. Then we have the chance to go out there and rep it together. I like to think when those guys listen to me and I'm telling stories about this rep with Marques Colston, this rep with Jimmy Graham and this rep with Lance Moore, whoever it might've been with, you know there's some credibility there. I saw what you guys and that offense was able to do when you were clicking on all cylinders and all these guys want to be part of something like that again.”

What about the other way around with you being coached?
"Oh yeah. Absolutely. By no means have I arrived. I had a coach tell me, ‘as long as you're green, you will continue to grow, but as soon as you’re ripe, you’ll soon be rotten.’ So, as soon as you think you know it all, you are done. I am still green. I still got things to learn.”

When you review last December, January, the production was really drastically different from the first three months of this season. What did you attribute it to? Could you put your finger on anything that changed for you in the pass offense?
“We weren't as efficient. Just missed on some things that should have been routine stuff and maybe didn't catch some of the breaks that we were catching early. Nothing major.”

*What about this offseason for you? Was there anything that you particularly decided to focus on? I know that you always want to figure out how you can stay fresh, especially as you go into year 19, but what was sort of the key for you this offseason? *
“That's really what it is. It's just finding ways to stay young, feel young, recover, be as efficient as possible. Having the body operate as efficient as possible. Doing all the little things that can help me be as accurate as possible. Be as quick as possible. Just all those little things.”

There's so much talk about people assume there will be a drop off at a certain age because history says there's always been a drop off at a certain age. Do you try to study, try to figure out what the signs would be? How you can combat it? How do you concern yourself with the concept of a drop off?
“I study all that stuff. I feel like I'm pretty aware of what you lose with the aging process. And so, everything I do from a training perspective, recovery perspective is to combat that. You just try to stay ahead of that curve and so far it feels like I’m beating it."

What do you say to the critics when they're looking at the stats are different from the first half of the season. What happened in the last half?
“Were we winning?”

“You were winning.”
“We just weren't beating people 48-7.”

Did injuries come into play, like with the offensive line? 
“No excuses. You go from the first 12 weeks where we were breaking every record known to man, so we were playing at a crazy level. And so maybe we just came back down to more of a human level. We were still winning games. Tight games. In a way I felt like that was helping us grow as a team more than blowing people out.”

There's like 14 receivers out here. Obviously (Michael Thomas) is not here, but being able to see all these guys, what have you kind of seen from the wide receiver group so far and who are some of the guys who kind of stepped up and shown their selves so far? 
“Well, it is day one. I think actually with Mike not being here, it has given a lot of guys an opportunity to get a lot of reps, to see a lot of balls. I think we have a lot of receiver positions that are kind of up for grabs -- some key positions, some key roles that are really going to help this football team, be vital for this football team. I'm excited to see these guys work and compete and get a little bit better each day. They are young and enthusiastic. That's the fun part for me, and probably the big challenge for me, coming into camp is seeing how all that’s going to come together and who’s going to fill those roles.”

(What’s it like) having a veteran like Rishard Matthews? He just got here it seems like but he’s picked things up quick. 
“With veteran guys there's obviously a polish and a savvy. They've been around so they understand the game. The systems, they've been in, you're doing some similar stuff. You just call it something different. It just becomes a mental thing to memorize maybe the verbiage or the terminology. We spent some time together in July as well. And so I feel like it doesn't take long for me to get on the same page with veteran guys just because there is some savvy there.”

Photos of New Orleans Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on July 26, 2019.

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