“We have some active roster moves that we made (this weekend). We waived Jonathon Amaya, claimed number 25 safety Rafael Bush who was in (training) camp at Denver. We terminated corner Elbert Mack, claimed number 31 cornerback Jerome Murphy who was at St. Louis. The other guys that we signed were (for) the practice squad, defensive end Braylon Broughton, Ezra Butler at linebacker, Harland Gunn at guard, Ricky Henry as a guard, brought back tight end Michael Higgins, Nick Hixson at corner, Jerico Nelson at safety and wide receiver Andy Tanner. Those are our practice squad signings and then last night we elected captains. The team voted for these captains, two on offense, and two on defense and one on specials teams. The two offensive captains were quarterback Drew Brees and offensive tackle, Zach Strief. The defensive captains were safety Roman Harper and our other safety Malcolm Jenkins. The special teams captain was Courtney Roby. I would like to talk about the injury report on Wednesday, not today. Today we went out and had an initial early start, a jump on the Washington Redskins. We had three periods of team and got some first and second down work done. They were playing really fast. We went away for the hurricane, came back and this was a chance to get those guys’ legs fresh from camp and it looked like they were playing very quick today.”
How do you feel now that you are in this role?
“Like I said the last time I said it at this short table, it’s a case. I’m following the formula so anytime you have a plan; you have a good sense that things are going to go well. We have a good plan here. I’m following the plan and the team is with us.”
Did you spend any more time away from the offensive line today at practice than you ordinarily would?
“No. I did the normal amount of offensive line coaching and during team (periods) I was able to see both sides of the ball.”
Does Brian Young take over for Joe Vitt as linebackers coach?
“They are working it out on defense. I’d rather not talk about that. They are spreading the work there.”
How do you handle that? Do you put one guy in charge?
“There are a couple of guys that have coached linebackers in past. They have taken care of it.
On gameday, what do you think your biggest adjustment will be?
“I don’t know that there is a lot of adjustment. I’ve been into the game the entire time with helping Pete (Carmichael) call the run game, so offensively you can’t be more in tune than I was. Defensively, obviously, I always felt that we worked as a group. With Sean (Payton) being an offensive coach and being in a lot of our meetings and being around us, we got a feel with him of the game and how the game was going defensively, offensively and on special teams. We’ve always tried to tie that together as a staff. Like I said, I am just following the formula that he has set.”
Do you lean on your support staff even more?
“Yes. No question. We have awesome coaches on offense and I have a great assistant, Frank Smith that is working with me. I’ve said it before. This guy is capable of coaching the offensive line. Now, that is still my job and I am going to do that job but any time I am away, he is able to handle everything that I can do.”
How difficult is it to prepare for a guy like Robert Griffin III since you don’t have much film on him?
“I think if you would ask Steve Spagnuolo, he would tell you the same thing. When a guy has a gap, he fills his gap. When he has a responsibility, he does his responsibility, so as long as (all) the guys are doing their job. Obviously, with a lot of potential on this quarterback who can run the football, it is going to be big to stop him. But if everybody is doing their job defensively things don’t change”
Can you talk a little bit about how this franchise has been so successful in bringing in undrafted free agents?
“It’s a big key. If you look at what Mickey Loomis, Rick Reiprish, Ryan Pace, these guys and their scouts out in the field, they are finding us players each year. You look at this (Travaris) Cadet and what he has done in this preseason. You didn’t hear his name before he started practicing with us in any of the scouting world and this guy came in and has done a wonderful job. As well as, there were some people wanting us to trade a seventh round pick to pick up a corner or pick up a safety and do something and we looked back on the roster and said how many seventh rounders have made it on this team? You look at a starter and now first-time captain, Zach Strief is a seventh rounder. A young man, another right tackle, from Nebraska, Marcel Jones, has made it as a seventh rounder. Marques Colston of course is probably our best seventh rounder ever. You go down the line of free agents and late round draft picks that most people (teams) just kind of pick somebody, we have hit on a ton of guys. Not only does that help you athletically but when you think about a guy that has gotten picked in the seventh round or been a free agent or a practice squad player and has made the team, that guy might have more character or more desire because he was passed over by a lot of people. When you get a collection of those guys together you are going to have a lot of character on the team.”
Did you ever thing that you would have five halfbacks on a team?
“You can dream can’t you?”
Was that a hard decision?
“It was a hard decision but a smart decision. That is what Mickey Loomis and Ryan Pace do. They say who are the best football players we can keep on this team? We will find a way to use them. There is no way you are going to let some of these guys out of the building even if they are one more in the position that you are loaded in. You need to keep good players.”
Have you worked with a team that has had five running backs and two fullbacks?
Were there any similar conversations with Mickey Loomis or Joe Vitt before they left the team as there was with Sean Payton?
“Both those guys were able to come to the captains dinner last night to announce the captains and it was emotional for them really and it was emotional for our guys. We are going to miss those guys. Joe Vitt is an emotional leader for this team and Mickey Loomis is always around and always supportive and the guys have a genuine like for him. It is going to be a difficult situation as we miss them but as Sean (Payton) said we do our job. Come back, do your job. Wake up in the morning, do your job. That is what we echoed in the team meeting this morning. As a group, we will get this thing done. There are no setbacks. As you look at the practice we had today, we are just as today as we were when those guys were here and when Sean (Payton) was here.”
Did you feel any different today now that you are in charge?
“Like I said before, we are going to work this as a group and I happen to be sitting in this chair. I am going to do the best job I can to lead this but we have great leaders. We have five great captains and a wonderful coaching staff. It is going to be a collective effort in this situation. I feel good about that. You can feel comfort when you have leaders and people around you like we have in this office.”
Can you talk about what Darren Sproles means to this team?
“Obviously last year he led all backs in receiving, in (all-purpose) yards. He can do so many things and he is such weapon. When you have Darren Sproles in the game and Jimmy Graham in the game and then our multitude of receivers that we have, you can’t double team guys. There are a lot of guys that will try to double team someone and it’s hard to double team any of our guys because Drew (Brees) will throw it to the other guy. It’s imperative that we use everyone on our offense to beat the defense. We don’t want to settle on one guy throwing it to one guy, handing it to one guy, we want to use them all. We are setting game plans to do that.”
Is there anything more that you are looking for from Darren Sproles?
“I don’t know how much more you can do. I hope he can match it again.”
Did Nick Toon’s injury require any surgery or was it that he missed so much time this summer that it became his redshirt season?
“He’s hurt. “
Did he suffer a worse injury during the game?
“No. Same thing. He’s just hurt.”
He’s not healthy enough?
Will he need any surgery?
“He probably will.”
What is special about playing opening day?
“Anytime you get a break of anything you love to do, that first day back, the first day of first grade is awful fun. That first day of the NFL, you just have to make sure that you run plays that you know by heart because the emotions are going to be high, we’ll be in the (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) dome, we have the best fans in football and it is the loudest arena you can play in. The guys will be so emotionally high that we have to make sure that we run plays that we know by heart that we can go out and execute that way. That first game is very exciting to all of our players.”
Are you anxious and excited to serve in the role of head coach?
I know it is not an audition but it is something that you want to do?
Was Nick Toon disappointed when he was placed on injured reserve?
“Yes, he was and rightfully so. We want guys that are disappointed when they can’t play.”
How prepared do you feel you are going to be for something that goes off script?
“The only thing your can guarantee is change. Things are going to change but we have been around long enough to adapt. We have always said here that we adapt better than anyone in the NFL. We adjust better than anyone. Things don’t distract us. We don’t let little things bother us. We only worry about the big things. We keep the main thing as the main thing. That is what we talked about today. Make sure when you show up in this office that you are focused on what we’re doing. It has been Sean’s (Payton) to never let little things bother the organization and become a distraction. If we have something happen, we will adjust. We are ready.”
It has been a rough week for the people of this community. Do you feel that drives your players?
“No question. The Gulf Coast is always on our mind. I talked to the team this morning about adversity and that this isn’t adversity, having a new coach game one, having Joe Vitt during the preseason or having Sean Payton have to leave when he did. That is not adversity, rather it is opportunity for all of us to step up. Adversity is when your house is flooded and you can’t go home. That’s what we talked about. Those are the things in life you are going to find out about yourself. Our guys, over time, have realized that the fans and the people in the area can always bounce back. We live by that. No matter what happens we know that the community is going to bounce back and we know that the community has our back and we have the communities back. We will play with heavy hearts this week. That is for sure. For the people in Laplace, Slidell, Pearl River, the whole Gulf Coast that got flooded. You can’t imagine until it happens to you. When you walk home and you can’t get into your house because it is flooded and all of your stuff is ruined. Our guys will play with a heavy heart for that.”
Tom Benson was walking around practice today talking to every group. What did he say to the different groups?
“We’ve been apart for a while. He is really into his football team so he came around and gave a little inspiration (inspirational talk) for each group. That is what we love about him. He is really into football and he is really into his Saints.”