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Transcript: Saints coaches minicamp media availability 6-9-21

Saints coordinators speaks to the media following Day 2 of Minicamp

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New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Do you feel like this year there are a few more changes in roster personnel, speaking towards your ends?
"Every year's different. There's always going to be a certain amount of change. Certainly the quality of players that we lost were significant at the linebacker position with Kwon (Alexander) and Alex (Anzalone) and then you look at the defensive tackle position with Sheldon (Rankins) and Malcom (Brown) and Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) over at left corner. There's certainly been some significant key contributors to our success defensively that we have lost, yet that is the nature of this game and I think we've done a great job of drafting here in the last few years and there are going to have to be some young guys that step up and take on significant roles. We're excited about this next step and next chapter we're trying to accomplish here and seeing some of those young guys develop."

Where is Zack Baun in that process given that yesterday he told us he's working on the weakside?
"Certainly there were some things that he was able to do last year that gave us confidence he was ready to take the next step. Zack really got hurt last year with the hamstring in training camp and we all knew there was going to be a development (curve) from him in terms of being an off the ball linebacker and last year we kind of played him at Sam and Mike off the ball. Well he lost a week or ten days of opportunities in terms of reps with an injury last year. That development was slowed and once you get in to the regular season it's hard to find all those reps to continue develop guys. Where you saw him have success was as an off the ball linebacker at Sam what he had done in college. But the things that we ask the middle linebacker to do in terms of responsibility and the things we ask the Sam linebacker to do in terms of responsibility are very similar."

Speaking of those reps, how does Pete Werner affect the reps of Baun and how do you potentially get those guys on the field with Demario Davis?
"Obviously with Demario, we feel great about him and his ability to play. We do play a lot of two-linebacker sets, so the thing I'm excited about is that when we get to training camp we're going to let those young guys get out there and let them compete. May the best man win. I don't think we've pigeonholed anybody into any specific spots necessarily, we're really just trying to evaluate guys and certainly that will come once we get into training camp, but it will be a nice little battle."

What does Kris Richard bring additionally to the coaching staff?
"I thought Aaron Glenn did a great job with the secondary and then he had an opportunity to move on and call the defense, a well-deserved opportunity that I'm excited for him. But I think Kris Richard is a guy that obviously I have a lot of respect for. I've admired his work. He was part of that Legion of Boom and getting that setup. The two years there in Dallas, we had a couple of defensive battles in those games, that were really low-scoring games and having an opportunity to watch them go to work. He's highly competitive. He's extremely intelligent. He brings a championship pedigree with him that gives him instant credibility within that room. Just being around him for the last few months and really the last few weeks with the majority of our players, it's really been fun for me to be around him. A couple of us come from different backgrounds and scheme and so I'm learning from him. Hopefully there are some things that he's picking up from me. I think it's going to be a good addition to our coaching staff."

Marcus Davenport talked yesterday about how he's really worked on his mindset this offseason, have you seen that?
"I think so. The interesting thing with Marcus is since we've had him here, Marcus has never had a full offseason program. He always had some sort of injury deal he was dealing with (or coming in as a rookie late). We've had him, been able to work with him, gotten out on the field with him and he really has been able to for the very first time go through some individual skill development at a slow down pace that's really a teaching tool. We were just commenting today that he looks like he's a four or five-year vet out there. You're beginning to see the light bulb go off. I think we all knew when we drafted Marcus that it was going to take some time for him to develop and I think that development was from the fact that never had a great opportunity at an offseason program. I think this offseason has been critical for him. I think he's working extremely hard. I'm excited about him and excited about what he can bring to our team."

How much of a factor will it be in bringing Paulson Adebo along given that he didn't play organized football last year?
"I think we got to get him out there and throw as much at him as we possibly can and see how he responds to it. He's big, long, can run, is smart, a lot of the characteristics that we like in a corner. I'm sure there's going to be a little bit of rust in getting out and playing the game of football, but the offseason program and what we do between now and training camp in getting into football playing condition so that he can operate at an optimal level once we get to training camp."

Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael

New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Cesar Ruiz told us how he's focused on learning guard and playing guard, is that a function of the level Erik McCoy's played at the last couple years and also finding a spot for Cesar to grow in?
"I think like you said the fact that Erik played at a high level at that position, being there last year, the comfort level suits us best right now."

How have things gone with the staff working with offensive players with some new responsibilities this year in this unique offseason?
"The offseason right now has been such a big focus in the weight room, strength and conditioning and meeting with individual position coaches in the amount of technique instruction players have been getting, that's really been beneficial. I think it's something that's serviced us well when they have been working in fundamentals and technique."

How tough is it to run a competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill when an offensive design for each player might look so much different?
"I think you start out that there's a core of plays that we've become very comfortable. But at the same time, Sean (Payton) has talked about the designs and schemes that they've done best. I think Sean at the beginning of training camp will have a plan not only in the offense getting installed."

How do you approach the outcome of a quarterback competition as opposed to another competition because they are on the field so much. Do you look at leadership, knowledge, classroom work?
"I think you're going to look at everything, not only how they're performing on the field, how they're absorbing the offense, the communication at the huddle and line of scrimmage, how are they performing in critical situations whether it's two-minute drill, third down, red zone. All those things have to be factored. We'll have plenty of time to work on all those situations, but again, like you said you have to factor all those situations in and do what's best for the team."

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New Orleans Saints Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi
Video Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, June 9, 2021

In terms of parting ways with Thomas Morstead, was what you saw with Blake Gillikin give you comfort there? "Training camp was different in terms of there was no preseason games, all practice, In the practices, Blake did a great job. It's a little bit of unique situation where he never played in a game or you didn't have game reps. Blake certainly had a great preseason last year and I'm hoping he continues it this year."

Is the plan for Blake to compete at Holder too?
"Both Blake and Nolan (Cooney) are established holders. Blake has a very unique situation. Blake's twin brother was the starting long snapper for Northwestern. Blake's kind of one of those guys where with him as a snapper as a kid, the other twin brother (Blake) was a punter and holder. On the other hand Nolan Cooney was a holder at Syracuse, here was a guy that was a three-sport athlete with good hands. Both those guys are familiar with the operation."

How critical was it to retain a guy like J.T. Gray?
"In my heart of hearts, I think he's one of the better core players in the entire league for the last few years. We've had the last two years together. I all the time we've spent together, J.T. had maybe one poor game, other than that he's been outstanding. Obviously with losing a couple core players, Hardee and Craig Robertson, to be able to get J.T. Gray come back. He's multi-faceted. He's not only a gunner on the punt team, but he also does a lot of things with the punt return, kickoff return, he's physical. I'm really, really excited we got him back here in year four."

I think we all were guilty of taking Wil Lutz for granted because he's been so consistent. How do you describe his mentality compared to other kickers you've worked with and his confidence and how that affected him going through a little bit of a slump for the first time while you were here?
"He's very, very self-motivated and he's very critical of himself when he's not doing well. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes that's a fault. With that, that criticism he has makes him so good. There was a point where he had a couple misses. It's my job to figure out why that's happening and you go back and look at him, it wasn't just one thing. One time, Wil slipped in Atlanta, one time we had a bad operation, it was a little bit of bad luck involved. There was nothing glaring."

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