Thursday, 25 August 2011 15:24

New Orleans Saints v. Oakland Raiders: Brees, Payton, Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush

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The New Orleans Saints are in Oxnard preparing for the Oakland Raiders.  On Wednesday, Drew Brees, Sean Payton, Darren Sproles faced the media in the practice reports. 

Down in Miami, ex-Saint Reggie Bush wants to be the “new” Reggie as he fights hard to prove himself to the Dolphins. 

Saints practice reports:
Drew Brees:

How is the setup in Oxnard?

“It’s perfect. It’s everything we need right now. The weather allows us to be out longer and get a lot more work done. We’re playing Oakland Sunday night, kind of sequestering ourselves out here on the West Coast, just focusing on football, getting into a training camp mentality, but away from home. I think it allows us to bear down and focus on football.”

Do you feel the buzz of the NFL being in Oxnard?

“This is my first time here. Sean Payton had been here with the Cowboys. Oxnard’s used to having teams here with the Raiders and Cowboys. Obviously its new the Saints are in town. The reception we’ve received from the fans has been awesome, whether they’re fans from the gulf coast that live out here or locals that have adopted us as well.”

What have you been working on here?

“We’ve been focusing on a lot of the details, getting down to some of the elements of the offense and defense we maybe haven’t had a chance to focus on a lot the first couple of weeks and now we’re getting that chance.”

What does it take to win a Super Bowl?

If it was easy everybody would do it. You have to catch some breaks. You hope god-willing you can stay healthy. Through a season you have ups and downs and have adversity. You wonder how teams handle that adversity. We won our first thirteen games, lost our last three and all you hear is how no team ever lost their last three and won the Super Bowl. We became that first team to do that. That’s because we beared down on our plan. It didn’t matter what everybody else said or what their theories were about what we should be doing to prepare for the playoffs. We knew what we needed to do. We played well in the playoffs and had a very memorable Super Bowl victory.”

What does it take to win another Super Bowl?

It takes a little skill and a lot of luck but I feel like we have a lot of the pieces in place. Now it’s just a matter of taking it one week at a time, not getting ahead of yourself, not getting complacent just because you have a talented team. We have to go out and earn it every time we step on the field.

Through the first two preseason games there have been different performances. Will this give us the best view of the Saints in 2011?

“If we play great, it doesn’t mean it’s promised to play great during the season. If we play bad, it means we still have a lot of work to do and we’ll get that done prior to the first game. The first game is when you play the starters the most. It’s your final dress rehearsal so to speak prior to the regular season because typically a lot of guys don’t play in that game. We want to play our best in that game.

What’s it like to be reunited with Darren Sproles?

“It’s been great. I had one year with Sproles back in 2005 as a rookie. He was basically a kick returner. He didn’t play a lot because we had guys named LaDanian Tomlinson and Michael Turner. He’s obviously made the most of his opportunities there. We were lucky enough to get him here. He’s been a great addition. What he can do is second to none. There are things he can do that other backs in this league don’t have a chance of doing.”

“The tempo’s been faster. There have been more collisions. We’re trying to get back to the basics.”“Of course there were mistakes, but those can happen in preseason. The tackling was bad. The demeanor in which we played wasn’t up to our standards. We want to get back to the style of defense that we play, hitting, playing fast, offensively scoring points and running the ball. At practice we’ve picked up the tempo and there’s a sense of urgency.”“It’s great. Nobody wants to do up-downs, no matter how many years you have in the league. It’s definitely a good motivator.  It’s just to instill the fact we have to get turnover, correct some things that happened on defense. That’s the standard we hold ourselves to.”


Coach Sean Payton

“The players that didn’t practice: Ezra Butler, Tom Johnson, Johnny Patrick, Jeff Charleston, Fabian Washington, Will Herring, Chris Taylor, Aubrayo Franklin, Clint Ingram, Roger Allen, Jarred Fayson, Carl Nicks, Mark Ingram, Junior Galette, and Mitch King.  We did a little more third down work today and tomorrow will still be offense vs. defense and then we’ll shift towards the Raiders plan.”

 What are your thoughts on Mark Ingram?“I think he’s going to play.  I think he’ll practice tomorrow and I think he’ll play Sunday.  Our expectations with him would be that he’ll be a go.” 

What about strongside linebacker, do you expect Will Herring to play or will Martez Wilson get some playing time?

“I think Martez Wilson will get a lot of the snaps.  There’s a good chance we’ll get Will, but he’ll be a little more questionable than (Clint) Ingram.” 

Has Martez Wilson been showing you some things as a rookie?

“Yes.  For him, it’s the every down discipline with assignment and technique.  He’ll get a lot of snaps.”


Have you gotten what you wanted to out of camp here in Oxnard?

“I thought we were a little sharper this afternoon than we were yesterday afternoon.  I think the setup has been really good.  Meetings have gone well, the logistics have been real smooth, and I think it’s definitely been good so far.” 

What have you been trying to stress on this week at practice?

“The thing we tried to stress coming off the last couple weeks was the consistency and the execution.  There are a lot of players here right now.  Our numbers are high in regards to who’s practicing.  Just getting that consistency we look for in all three areas, that’s all we’ve been stressing.” 

Is there any new understanding coming out of the report with Will Smith missing two games at the beginning of the season?

“I’ve only heard that just because you have.  I haven’t heard anything more than that report, but I have heard that and nothing has been confirmed with us.” 

What have you seen out of Cam Jordan so far?

“It would be similar to what we were just talking about with our linebacker.  It’s just the every down consistency.  He’s physical and he shows up on the one-on-one rush snaps.  He’s a guy that I think has picked things up fairly quickly and yet all the details that go into playing that position on every down is something he has to work on and improve on.”


Can you talk about what it takes to get to the Super Bowl?

“I think to get to that game you have to be a team that is opportunistic, you have to do very well in the turnover ratio as the season goes on, you have to win that, you have to have balance offensively, and there’s a little bit of good fortune that takes place in regards to injuries, and you have to be very consistent week in and week out.  If you go back to 2009, once that season got started, we were very consistent and there’s going to be weeks when you fall behind and you have to have that resiliency to be able to come back when you’re not ahead early because you play 16 games and there are going to be a number of times when you fall behind in games, and so how you handle that and us going to what we are now with the roster to becoming a team, all those things factor into that.”


You’ve mentioned the roster and team plenty during this camp.  When do you think that point will come?

“The obvious date would be when we cut down to 53, but this is a process and the most important part of this process is the selection of these guys and making sure we get the right 53.”


From what you’ve seen from this team up to this point, do you think this team has a good of a chance as any to make it to the Super Bowl?

“I think you go into each season with that, and I think we have confidence and we understand how difficult that task is and yet we look forward to the challenge.  We have enough guys that have had experience  and played in that game and understand all the things that go into it, so I think there is a confidence level that we have in playing in that game and yet we understand how difficult it is to get there.  We have a lot of work to do still.  We still have two preseason games to play until we start the season and two weeks from tomorrow night is when we start the regular season so that’s going to be on us pretty quickly.”


How big of an impact can Jimmy Graham have on your team this year?

“A lot.  He had a big impact for us last year as a rookie and he’s a guy that’s very gifted.  He’s a very good pass receiver.  I think his second year in our offense, you’re seeing him have more and more confidence and more knowledge of what he’s doing.  He certainly has a chance to have a big impact.”


Do you see any of his skills from his basketball days translating?

“We see the height, we see the speed, and we see some of the athletic skills and outside of that it changes a lot but he’s handled the transition well.”


Can you talk about the trades with players in an attempt to improve your running game?

“There are a number of new faces in regards to who we acquired in trying to help us as a team offensively trying to run the ball.  Darren Sproles is one player with a lot of experience.  Mark Ingram is a draft pick that we got in the first round.  Pierre Thomas was a key signing for us before the lockout and we got some other players.  We haven’t seen Chris Ivory as he’s recovering from his foot and sports hernia but he’s close.  Joique Bell and a number of these guys have played well.  It’s a deep position and one that we feel like is very talented.”


You said that you wanted to improve the efficiency in the running game.  How do you define efficiency?

“You look closely at yards per attempt.  In other words, you’re running the ball but how well are you running it?  You look at your yards per attempt, your big plays in the running game.  At some point, the thing we did in 2009 was we finished games with the running game and so an efficient run under four minutes might be a three yard gain to get a first down and keep the clocks moving.  Those are specific areas and we have a method to grade red zone efficiency, the run game which might be different in the field, tight red zone, short yardage and goal line.  The simple way to define it is running it better.”

 Are you enjoying it out here in Oxnard?

“This has been great.  The timing for us has been good.  We were finished with our camp out in New Orleans and this gave us an opportunity to come out here for a week before we head north to Oakland so it’s been great.  The people have been wonderful.  The city of Oxnard and the hotel here are very used to the needs of an NFL team and it’s very organized.”

Safety Malcolm Jenkins:

What has practice been like here?

“The tempo’s been faster. There have been more collisions. We’re trying to get back to the basics.”

What went wrong on Saturday?

“Of course there were mistakes, but those can happen in preseason. The tackling was bad. The demeanor in which we played wasn’t up to our standards. We want to get back to the style of defense that we play, hitting, playing fast, offensively scoring points and running the ball. At practice we’ve picked up the tempo and there’s a sense of urgency.”

Do you feel comfortable at this stage of your career of stressing these things as a veteran leader?

“It’s great. Nobody wants to do up-downs, no matter how many years you have in the league. It’s definitely a good motivator.  It’s just to instill the fact we have to get turnover, correct some things that happened on defense. That’s the standard we hold ourselves to.”

What’s it going to take the Saints to win another Super Bowl?

“It’s going to take us winning the turnover battle. Defensively we definitely have to give Drew (Brees) more opportunities to score more points. If we can run the ball on offense and our special teams plays together all year, I think we definitely have the tools to make a run at the playoffs. If we stay healthy, then we have a chance at it.”


The St Paul Pioneer Press reports the suspensions for all players involved in the 2008 StarCaps case will be reduced from four games to two. The two primary players affected are the Saints DE Will Smith and Vikings DT Kevin Williams. Even better news is for both players is the suspensions are unlikely to kick in before Week 1 because the dispute remains an  "unresolved bargaining chip in negotiations between the NFL and the Players Association,,,

According to the Miami Herald, Reggie Bush has appeared driven to prove himself as an every-down back in Dolphins camp. "He's been, literally after practice, spending 45 minutes on his own doing different drills to get him to the point where he manhandle a bigger workload," the Herald's Jeff  Darlington said. "Where he can handle upwards of 15 yards per game." The Dolphins have offered Bush a feature-back role if he proves himself."...

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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