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Transcript: Saints players minicamp media availability 6-8-21

Saints players speak to the media following day 1 of Saints minicamp

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Jameis Winston
Video Call With New Orleans Media
Tuesday, June 8, 2021

How different is it here being at the facility and not having Drew Brees around?
"Well, one year with Drew Brees taught me so much. So obviously I would love to have another year with him. But we've communicated some this offseason. So he's always going (to) be (having a presence). I'm always going to be in his ear as long as I'm playing, probably my whole life."

When you say it taught you so much what specifically do you refer to? What specifically do you mean?
"Just how to be a complete pro. How to come to work every day, what the purpose and what the initiative is."

I was really taken by your comments at the youth camp this offseason in Orlando, where you kind of acknowledge that you were the number one overall draft pick and then I think you use the word embarrassment to make a point to them about how you can't let that change your focus. How do you handle all that? I mean, did you battle some frustration for a little while when you weren't a starter anymore? Or you've had sort of that humility and self confidence all along?
"Yeah, absolutely. It's all about being able to be humble. And keep your eyes on the prize. I'm moving forward and everything that I do have to get better every single year was a great year, or not so good year, my seven years. But to be seven years in this league has been a blessing because I worked my whole life to have the opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league. One year not playing has just made me even hungrier to get back at the helm and lead a team."

I was really taken by your comments at the youth camp this offseason in Orlando, where you kind of acknowledge that you were the number one overall draft pick and then I think you use the word embarrassment to make a point to them about how you can't let that change your focus. How do you handle all that? I mean, did you battle some frustration for a little while when you weren't a starter anymore? Or you've had sort of that humility and self confidence all along?
"Yeah, absolutely. It's all about being able to be humble. And keep your eyes on the prize. I'm moving forward and everything that I do have to get better every single year was a great year, or not so good year, my seven years. But to be seven years in this league has been a blessing because I worked my whole life to have the opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league. One year not playing has just made me even hungrier to get back at the helm and lead a team."

I noticed that this offseason you worked with Drew Brees' trainer Todd Durkin and also worked with Jay Glazer, as well as some of the people you have worked with all along. Was that a new idea?
"It's really just the mentality just trying to expand my knowledge on work, trying to link up with Todd Durkin because Brees worked with him for almost 20 years and just trying to learn things from these guys. Jay Glazer, he's really worked with nothing but hall of famers that come out of unbreakable. Pushing myself to the limit, being challenged at different levels and trying to elevate myself."

Can you talk about this offensive line that you are working with and how they are helping in the passing game?
"We are always thankful for those big guys up front. We know that games are won up front. I know that I'm blessed to have the opportunity to play with those men that we have and they are incredible."

You have had the opportunity to work with several teammates off-site, has that replicated what you might have had here a longer offseason?
"Absolutely, you are always trying to connect with your guys when they have time, to build timing, camaraderie and just get together. I think that's the best part of being a quarterback, coordinating guys together and going out there executing and having fun and seeing it come to fruition when the bullets really come."

Can you talk about how your relationship with Taysom Hill has developed, from when you guys were first teammates even to know when you guys are competing for the same objective?
'We have the same mentality. Our main focus is to win and to be our best selves. That is what I respect about Taysom, because he is a man who can do so many great things for this team and he has done so many great things for this organization since he's been here. So just trying to find ways to serve him and work with him is going to make both of us better in terms of leading our teammates and working with them as well."

In terms of working out with some of your teammates off-site, what have you been able to gleam about them from the experience?
"I've been able to work out with Tre'Quan (Smith), a lot of guys, I worked out with Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett, Juwan (Johnson), Ty Montgomery, Marquez Callaway, Tony Jones, a handful of guys. It's always worth it. With anyone, you're going to learn something new about them every single day. You learn how they move, do you need to lean off of them. Everything leadership is about every day as an ongoing thing and the more I can understand the men that we're around the better we'll be able to direct them and get on the right path and be able to have the same goal. The goal is to be able to win football games."

Where have these workouts with teammates taken place?
"We've been a few places. We've been on the west coast, on the east coast. The main thing is that we've been together. That's what Coach Payton wants, he wants us to be together as a team."

I promise we'll stop talking about Brees every time we talk to you, but is one thing you learned from him is about reading the body language of receivers?
"Last year, I didn't get a lot of reps. I was the third guy. Drew and Taysom (Hill) were getting a lot of reps with the starting receivers. It's been amazing to get a chance to work with the receiving corps. They're all young guys. They're eager to work and I'm eager to get to learn them. If Drew said it, I'm reading guys' body language, how they come in and out of breaks. It's important for anticipation and timing."

Last year you said you really focused on making the right decision in terms of avoiding turnovers. How do you look back on that now, looking even if something goes wrong, such as a ball getting tipped?
"It was making the right decision and not worrying about the result and it doesn't matter if the result is good or the result can be bad sometimes, but we don't want to be making decisions just for a great result. You want to be making the right decision period. That is what he's (Drew) taught me. I've been applying it in my workouts. I have been applying that even with my teammates."

I don't know if it's the camera, but have you lost some weight?
"No (laugh) I have a nice haircut. I knew this was coming so I had to look presentable."

What is the biggest difference from everything you've learned over the last year?
"Process. When you first start a job, you're going all in and trying to learn different things along that path, this is going to be my seventh year and I've learned things I can apply to add to my game now and I've learned some things that I don't need to apply. One thing I have learned, not specifically the past two years, not necessarily doing the things that you know, being able to say no. Not doing the things that you should not do instead of just doing the things that you should do. Because being an NFL quarterback everybody can get back there and throw the ball, but being able to make the decisions that 'we cannot do this' goes into if you are going to be a great quarterback or average."

How much time have you gotten to spend on the field with the offense this offseason, knowing that is has been a changeup without the traditional OTAs and minicamp, some on-field work, 11 on 11 or seven on seven?
"We've been able to dibble and dabble on a few competitive things, but mainly just with centers, receivers and running backs. We haven't been able to bring the big guys all together, but we're going to try to get that done shortly."

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, June 8, 2020

How different has it been with no Drew Brees around?
"Yeah. I mean, it's a significant difference. This is going into my fifth year and every year has been with Drew. And so it's a significant difference. I think we've relied on him for so much, his expertise, just a level of professionalism and everything has just been so good for so long. So I think it's taking everything that you've learned from him and trying to replicate it, and make it fit for you and what we have going on now."

How do you sort of put your own stamp on what you learned from him?
"Well, I think that's still kind of to be determined. I think he did it at such a high level in everything that he did. So I would say, I learned so much from him, but the things that, like I learned from him were more just being able to observe the way that he approached every day, every game. More so than the things that we had conversations about, although that was obviously very enlightening as well, but obviously Drew played the position different than I'll play it, different than other people played it. So I think really, what stands out to me is the way that he approached each day, the way that he approached each snap, like everything was so deliberate. And so I would say that that is what sticks out in my mind, and then really, just playing the position."

Does it affect you guys when coach Payton names who the starter is whether it's July or August, because I was reading a Bleacher Report article that was saying the later it happened, it may affect the offense? Just from your experience in different quarterback battles, does it affect the entire offense as a whole when the starter is named in terms of timing?
"Well, I think you are obviously trying to tailor an offense towards specific skill sets or talents. And so I think the sooner that you know the quicker you can tailor. I would say with that being said, our core is going to be the same. I look at the last four games that I was playing last season and we did some things differently. Some things were taken out of the offense, some things were added, but the core is all the same. So as you go to training camp, as you approach all these days, you're really trying to hone in on the fundamentals, make sure that we kind of have our bread and butter, and that's the stuff that we're going to be really good at. So I don't think that stuff ever changes depending."

Now that you have a one view from those four games, is there anything from that period where you say, Alright, this is what I need to do and that's what you worked on this off-season?
"Yeah, I mean, I would say that it's a weekly progression, so you watch the film after game and you see things that you could have done better. And so as you go into the next week, you try to implement those things. I would say that that is a very natural progression for a quarterback. And that has been no different this offseason, as it was last offseason, as we we've talked about before, the emphasis this year is (I've) never really been able to tailor all my workouts and everything to just being a quarterback where I've structured things differently just knowing and feeling like I won't have to take on as much as I did last year. So that's been the emphasis, but the mindset of getting better every day and improving on what you've done in the past, that hasn't changed."

Is there anything specific that you've honed in on?
"There's some things that (are) specific to kind of our offense, things that I would have done differently with some of my footwork, some decision making based on coverage and stuff like that I certainly would have done differently in the moment and things that I've taken note of. The footwork stuff has been an easy thing to focus on this off-season. There are other things that I think that I continue to work on."

How do you feel like that footwork affected you?
"I think every quarterback will tell you that your feet should take you where the ball goes and I think as you go throw routes on air, you're just trying to get work in, but then you get into a game and you're trying to replicate a rush and everything else. And so those are the things that I'm applying, I think that I could have sped some things up based on some routes and some concepts where maybe I was a little bit late on the throw. But I felt like it was because my feet weren't ready to deliver the ball. So without getting too specific, I would say that that would be an easy answer."

You mentioned tailoring an offense to the quarterback. You're doing obviously more classroom stuff than on field work during the minicamp. Have you, Sean (Payton) and Pete (Carmichael) talked about or are there packages of tailoring things more towards your skillset this offseason than obviously at any time before?
"Yeah, it's a good question. I think the emphasis this off-season really has been a weight room specific deal to where we have been out on the field with the receivers and running backs, tight ends, and we're throwing routes that we know we're going to install. But we really haven't had a ton of contact with the coaching staff this off-season. I know that we've, historically here we've kind of had conversations about the RPO game. And we're continuing to have conversations that way. But we really haven't had a ton of time with the staff to have a ton of those conversations."

Were you able to work out with any of your teammates outside of the facility this off-season? And if so, did that kind of help with the mindset going into this year as a quarterback versus your previous kind of do everything position?
"I'd say the first time that I was around the group of guys was about a month ago, and it was down in New Orleans. And then to answer your question, like, absolutely we're tailoring these workouts, a lot of our fieldwork became very specific to our positions and so we tailored all of that specifically to our position group and I was throwing. And so again, everything was tailored as a quarterback."

Regardless of who wins the competition, how much is your offensive line really an asset to the passing game? Just all the leadership and the veterans you guys have there?
"Ever since I've been here, our o-line's been one of the best in the NFL. And certainly as a quarterback, you'd like to see an organization committed to having good o-line. And we've had great coaches, and we have had great personnel there. As you look forward to the season, as you mentioned, the personnel is not changing, and they have reinforced that. Everything starts up there, if you can't protect the QB, if you can't get the ball off, or if you can't run the ball then you can't do anything and so everything starts there. They've done a great job of focusing on that."

You mentioned on working on less this season, potentially, obviously based on what happens with the outcome of the quarterback competition, but have you been given an indication that regardless of who wins the quarterback competition, that you might be doing less and other positions this year?
"I haven't had any of those conversations. The conversation has been as we finished last off-season was come in ready to compete and play as well as you can at quarterback and that's been the extent of the conversation."

How is your friendship or relationship with Jameis (Winston)? Obviously, you were very close with Drew (Brees), you and your families, not that you have to be close with the guy you're competing with, but I assume you're friends and have a good relationship. Sean (Payton) talks about the room. How is your relationship, friendship with Jameis as you all compete for this job?
"It's great. I love being around Jameis. Jameis is a guy that works really hard. He cares a lot about his craft and he focuses and works really hard on it and he's a fun guy to have around. And so this is not, I think there's obviously a lot of conversation here about this competition and everything else, but I'm super supportive of him and I felt nothing but support from him as well. And that goes back to last year when I was playing, Jameis was super supportive. He and I had a lot of conversations through that process and he was great through that whole thing, so that has not changed. And he's become a really good friend."

Having a full season of Michael Thomas, if he can stay healthy, how much does that help the offense as a whole? Obviously Drew Brees got a lot of credit for things that happened, but obviously, he is arguably the best receiver in the league. So how much does that help the offense having a healthy Michael Thomas?
"Yeah, I mean, you just can't (measure it). Mike T's one of the most unique players I've ever been around. And having him on the field, like a defense has to account for him on every single play. And so it just creates opportunities for other guys, creates opportunities for me as a quarterback or the other skilled players out there. Then when you talk about the perspective of a quarterback, if you get stuck or there's indecision on what's going on, you know that if you get Mike T a catchable ball one, you know one he's going to catch it, he's going to do everything you can to compete for it. I can't say enough good things about him and what he means to us offensively."

I know you haven't spent a lot of time with him, but what are you sort of seeing with Ian Book so far?
"I like him. I think Ian, he came in here with the right mindset, the right approach, and he's eager to learn and eager to get on the field and obviously played in an organization where he won a lot of football games, which is really important as you look at the legacy here in New Orleans, we've been winning a lot of football games, and we certainly don't want that to change. And that's the mindset. So I like him, I think he does some things really well. He's got good feet, throws a good ball, all that stuff, but I think he has a really good mindset coming in here as a rookie."

With respect to Drew (Brees), and I know you guys aren't trying to replace anything he did, or erase it or anything like that. But like, is there an element of like establishing a, I don't want to say a new culture, but like a different way of doing things that fit you? Is it important to kind of turn the page a little bit and set things up so it's your way of doing things or Jameis' (Winston) way of doing things? Is there any of that?
"Yeah, I think that is fair. And I would say you kind of have to do that every year, whether the quarterback is the same or the quarterbacks are different, you kind of have to find out who you are as a team and then define that process and what it is going to look like. But Drew had a process that worked for him. And again, we're all different players, we all have different ways of learning and thinking and everything else. And so I do think it is important to figure out what that process is for each player. Figure out what that process is for me, (and) what it is for other guys in the locker room and the chances of it looking identical to what it was like when Drew was here are probably not going to happen."

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