The Saints were without head coach Sean Payton for the final practice of their second week of Organized Team Activities as he attended funeral services for long time friend Cortez Kennedy. But back in New Orleans, his team marched on.
Drew Brees is adjusting to several new cast members on offense, including receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., right guard Larry Warford and running back Adrian Peterson. The quarterback spoke after Thursday's practice and following is a copy of that availability, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
What are your first impressions of the team so far?
“I like what I see. Guys are flying around, it’s competitive. Obviously we have no pads, so you’ve had to temper your enthusiasm sometimes. You’re installing a lot of information with the offense and defense and these young guys. I think we went out and got the right type of guys as far as character, toughness, intelligence, guys that want to learn, want to compete. I like what I’ve seen thus far.”
(Alvin) Kamara had a big play today, how does he compare to some of the other scatbacks you’ve had in the past?
“A little bit better everyday. He’s a guy that you can do a lot of things with, a lot of things. I think we’re just finding out all the things that we’re going to be able to do with him. As we get through OTA’s, minicamp, and then once we put the pads on, I think we’ll really start to begin to see just how versatile a guy like him can be.”
You threw a couple of deep ones to Ted (Ginn Jr.) today, what are your first impressions of him?
“I could not be more impressed with Teddy. I think he is great for that room, just being a veteran guy, he has been around a long time, played a lot of football. I think he has played some of his best football over the past few years too as he has become more veteran. He brings a great element to that room. I think wisdom, leadership, and he’s still extremely productive. He certainly doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. He can fly.”
Going against Marcus Williams, what are some the things you’ve noticed him doing well?
“He appears to be a guy that has a lot of confidence and they’ve given him a lot of information defensively with all the calls you’ve got to make and disguises and looks and everything. There’s an adjustment there but, he doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed. He seems to be a guy who wants to be making all the right calls, be in the right position. He’s been in some positions to make plays on the ball and he’s been able to make them so I’ve been impressed with him thus far.”
With (Max) Unger being out right now, what are some challenges of working with these other centers?
“Honestly, just the speed and tempo that we operate with as an offense. Getting up to the ball, getting the looks called out and communicated, whether it’s run game or protections, whether it’s snap count and then just operating at a fast pace where everyone is confident and you are not thinking too much. Anytime you have new guys in there or the guys that have not been around that much, there is a learning curve there and then throw into that the speed at which we try to operate there is an adjustment. Just finishing up our second week, I think we’ve made a ton of progress.”
What do you see from a guy like Larry Warford?
“I like Larry (Warford). I like his presence in the huddle. I think there’s an intensity that he brings and a confidence. He fits right into that line and the huddle and that offense.”
Just some final thoughts on Lance Moore and his career?
“One of my most favorite teammates that I’ve ever played with. Lance (Moore) was such a professional, such a pro. There were things that he could do better than anyone I’ve ever played with, or ever seen for that matter, and it was because he worked at it, and he was a pro. I knew what I was going to get out of Lance every day. The biggest compliment I could ever give a teammate is I knew what I was going to get out of him every day. I knew it was going to be his absolute best, and he’s the kind of guy you want to win for. If you ever have a hard time getting up in the morning then you think about a guy like that and you’re like ‘I can’t let him down’ because I knew he had that mentality for the rest of us. He was part of that group with Marques (Colston), (Robert) Meachem, Devery (Henderson), Lance (Moore). I mean, we were together for seven plus years. That’s unheard of to have that type of a group of guys. We reminisced on that a little bit this week. Lance gave all of the receivers and me a picture of the five of us, and this was probably for Christmas five or six years ago. Like a shot from a game of each of them catching a ball or me throwing a pass. It’s funny because that hangs in my older two boy’s room, so every time I read them a book at night I look up and I see that picture. It just brings back this flood of memories with these guys. Those will forever be some of my most favorite years, being around guys like that, and guys like Lance.”
The offense is going about it business, but the defense seemed very lively and vocal. When you see that, what goes through your head at this time of year?
“The way I look at it is, yes, it is a teaching time, and there is a lot being installed. Every day, you are installing basically a whole new package of stuff, or even three or four new packages. There is a lot of thinking, talking, and learning going on, and yet, we are competing. I want to score on you every time, right? I am not waiting for you to get lined up. I am going to get the ball snapped, and I am going to do my job. You better do yours. So, I think that there is an ‘iron sharpens iron’ mentality. We are going to make you better, and you’re going to make us better. Collectively as a team, as a result of that, we’re going to be better.”
How are you feeling now as you approach your 17th season?
“I feel great.”
Have you changed anything about your process?
“A little bit. With recovery and diet, that is ever evolving. But I feel great.”
Has the team in general changed any of its training? You have dealt with so many injuries over the last few years?
“I’ve noticed a few new things during our strength and conditioning time as well as some stuff guys can incorporate on their own. Again, different things work for different people. I have found what works for me, but I am always looking for little tweaks here and there. I have got great people that I can consult with and get information from. Like I said, I have made a few slight tweaks this offseason that I feel are working well for me, and I will continue to do that.”
Having seen Adrian Peterson on the field now for a couple of weeks, what are your impressions of him?
“He is a stud. He looks the part. It has been impressive. Obviously, you admired the guy from afar. I have played in a few Pro Bowls with him, so I do have a little bit of that experience. There is something about handing the ball off to that guy and watching him run through the hole and take on anybody who tries to tackle him. Obviously, we are not in pads right now, but you are just imagining what it is going to be like. So, I am excited for that time to come.”
Throwing to Peterson out of the backfield, it seems like he is fast and has that burst. Does it take time to adjust to that?
“Any time you can get him in space against a smaller DB, look out. Good luck tackling that guy in the open field. I feel like all of our backs are doing a really good job right now. Our offense is conducive to that. We do a lot with our backs. I think he is going to be able to do some stuff in this offense that maybe he has not done over the course of his career, just because we require some versatility from that position.”
Do you think that in the offseason, based on the additions that this team has made, that you have narrowed the gap with the top of the division?
“It is too early to tell, but look at our division. It seems like every year—there have been very few times over the last 15 years that our division has had a consecutive division winner. Carolina had a good run there, winning three in a row, but prior to that, I think it was a different team every year. I think it just shows the competitive balance in our division. Everybody retools, everyone has made improvements, and everybody is going out and making free agent acquisitions or drafting rookies to fill spots that they feel is a critical part to their success of their team. We have done that, but at the end of the day, you are not going to know until we get to the season and we start battling out those divisional games.”
Does having those three backs open up some of the things you guys can do on offense?
“It certainly opens it up. They are all extremely versatile guys who we can do a lot of things with.”