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Transcript - Sheldon Rankins Conference Call 12/7/20 | Week 13 recap

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins talks about returning from injury and the Saints' defensive performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, December 6, 2020.

New Orleans Saints Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, December 7, 2020

What was it like to be back out there on the field?
"It felt good, obviously I've had my fair share of injuries and setbacks, so just being able to overcome something again and get back out there. Just trying to help this team, help the defense continue to do what they've been doing. We're just playing great ball. Definitely, extremely rusty, but that'll work itself out the more I get those live reps."

While you've been watching defense, what are the things that you've noticed over this last period of time?
"They're playing to the standard we've always held ourselves to. I think since I've been here and been a part of this defense, this culture, we have always held ourselves to a standard and not necessarily always going out and playing that way. In spurts. I think we're just finally hitting that level of consistency where the preparation and the mental aspect is meeting the physical tools and the physical abilities that we know the players on this defense have. So, you're seeing guys going out and playing, playing the right way, playing with effort, playing with energy. Guys know their assignments and guys are just flying around. There's no thinking, there's no hesitating, guys are just playing ball the right way and you see the results."

When you got hurt, were you worried it was going to be a lot worse than it was, it just sounded like it was really painful when it happened?
"Absolutely. I'm pretty honest about, you know, everything with you guys. So I would be lying if I sat here and said I knew it was going be X amount of weeks out or whatever. No, when it happened I immediately thought the worst. Obviously because things I have already went through. But, just the initial shock, just the initial pain, I felt it was pretty excruciating. So no, I definitely initially thought it would be a lot worse than it was. But I am glad it wasn't and I'm glad I was able to, to be able to rebound pretty quickly and be able to get back out there and get back to what I love doing."

When you said you were rusty, do you feel health wise, I mean, do you feel like you're at 100%, as far as the actual recovery from the injury?
"Yeah, I don't feel like the injury held me back at all. There's only certain feels and certain things you can receive in a live game, live full speed reps going against somebody else."

Were you surprised you aimed to play 40 snaps?
"No, I think over the course of it all, I've always maintained as far as being in pretty good cardio standing. So I knew, if I had to play an extended amount of plays, as far as you know, physically being able to do it, I knew I could. It was just, like I said obviously, you know, they're just, like I said certain things you're only going to get the feel for actually playing the game. And prior to getting hurt I definitely felt like I was finding my rhythm and starting to heat up. So just, kind of getting back into that and trying to get back up to speed as soon as possible, it's going to be big. But you know, we got some games left and I'll continue to get better each time I'm out there."

What are those Sundays like when you're not playing? Just watching the games, what's it like for you?
"Yeah, okay. They're tough, I'm not going to lie to you. I'm kind of always caught in between, do I want to watch the game. I take this game very seriously. So, it has a certain effect on me, having to sit at home and watch a game. It emotionally takes a toll on me, but at the same time, those are my guys out there. So, I've got to watch and I have to be supportive and I've got to be able to watch the game. I can see certain things or different things like that, So it's definitely tough. It's definitely an emotional tug-o-war for sure. I know I say it every time, but I'm hoping I don't have to watch any more games on Sunday."

How did you feel the chemistry was when you got back into that rotation, you know, obviously missing it for a few weeks?
"The chemistry is fine, look I think, I mean, I've been here, this is my fifth year here now, David's (Onyemata) fifth year here, been with Cam (Jordan) those whole five years, Trey (Hendrickson) four years. So I mean, I have played a lot of ball with all these guys before. So from that standpoint, you know, I don't think we miss a beat. Obviously, watching the tape, I feel like we could execute better on certain things like that. And like I said for me, just my own play, just certain things I sit back and look at, I'm like, if I was clicking on all cylinders, I would've done this sooner, I would have done that. So, like I said, just a level of rust, but you know, as far as the chemistry goes, no I mean, everybody's on one cord."

What have you seen in Trey Hendrickson and his breakout season he's been having, how's he been able to do what he's done so far?
"I tell people all the time when they ask me this, this is nothing new. From the day Trey's (Hendrickson) got here, Trey's been able to affect the quarterback, rush the passer, better than most guys in this league. So, I think you saw last year when he got his extended reps earlier in the season and then each year he's gotten reps, he has always maximized those. So I think this year obviously he's continuing to grow and another year in the system and just perfecting his craft and obviously with the extended reps he is able to get, he is showing you the caliber player he's always been, the caliber of player we always knew he was. It is just a matter of now the world is getting to see it and he continued to go about his business as such. He's a true professional."

Did the postgame locker room celebration feel a little bit better? You know, now that you were able to be back out on the field?
"Yeah, definitely. It's always good to be a part of those, it's always good to be in there, music playing and everybody having a good time. Coming off a win like that, a division opponent, so like I said, I'm hoping, you know, God willing, I'm done having to watch games on Sundays and I can always be a part of these locker room celebrations as we go forward."

Speaking of that, you clinched a playoff berth yesterday, but obviously, you know, not done yet with your goals. Did you focus on that at all? Or are you just looking ahead for potentially clinching that one seed, winning the south again, that type of stuff?
"Yeah, the number one goal each year is to win your division. And obviously, we'll take the the playoff ticket, we'll take that. But, goal number one is always win your division and then content for that one seed. So, business is not done. We got to continue to work, we have to continue to grind. We have a nice stretch of games here left that we got to be ready to go to battle for. So, we'll continue to work, we will continue to go out and execute and try to keep this show rolling and hopefully be able to lock up the number one seed. But, the only way you can do that is, you take it one week at a time, end each Sunday 1-0, and then let the chips fall where they may."