Head Coach DeMeco Ryans
On the biggest change from the preseason to now in terms of scouting
"The biggest change in our practices is not much. We introduced – we simulated how we would do things in a regular season, but we're not full game planning the Saints. Just to simulate how it would be in a couple periods, but we still want to be able to get good work – ones versus ones, twos-on-twos, good-on-good as much we can – we got good work today."
On what he feels like CB Cameron Dantzler can bring to the team
"Adding Cam [Cameron Dantzler] to our team just adds a little depth at corner. We'll see where Cam is throughout this week and see how he can help us."
On how tough it is for a guy to get signed so late into training camp
"It's all up to the guy. When you get added to a team, the roster is always evolving. Things are always moving. Things are always changing, so it's always up to the guy and how he adapts – how quickly he adapts to the scheme, to what we're asking him to do. It's always individually based, and some guys can thrive very well in that."
On if he expects WR Tank Dell to be on a snap count this week heading into the Saints game
"That's to be determined on Tank [Dell]. We'll see as we go, get closer to the game."
On working with the linebacker group during practice today
"With the linebacker group, I'm there just trying to help those guys understand the techniques that we're asking them to do. If there's any way I can help anyone on our team to try to understand something a little bit better, just so that our guys can play faster, so they can make plays, that's what I'm here for – just to serve all of our players, serve all of our coaches and help out where I'm needed."
On how he still oversees the success of the defense when he's not calling plays
"Our defense, our offense, we have a standard and what we call – it doesn't matter about a call, it matters that our players make those calls come to life. It's all about our players and being able to execute what we ask them and allowing them to play as fast as possible – clear minds so that they can play fast and that's what it's about. It's not about a play call – it doesn't matter, your play call. It matters about how the guys bring that call to life by their actions – the guys make plays – coaches don't make plays. We try our best to put guys in position to make plays, but there is no perfect call to put guys in position. It's about the players."
On how he knows that the foundation is set on defense
"We're still doing our processes. It's a working process. You start over, building a new team, making sure we implement how our fundamentals, our techniques and how we coach things – there's a process that goes along with that. It doesn't happen overnight. So, we're still on that process and one thing about coaching is you've got to love the process and I love it. I love seeing guys from step one, seeing them improve – that's the beauty of coaching. That's why I thrive."
On how he evaluates the players given the limited game plan during preseason games
"Yeah, you still just want to see that cumulative view of guys and what they've been able to handle over the course of practice when we do a lot more things in practice. We mix up a lot of different calls in practice, so we get to see our players in what they can handle mentally and then get in the game. Preseason is about just trimming and just allowing guys to just go play as fast as possible – not a lot of thinking, not a lot of checks. We just want to see how guys operate on gameday and can they play as fast as possible? Can they make plays without having to think? When it comes to game planning, that changes each week and we've seen how guys handle things mentally throughout training camp."
On how the coaches get a fair assessment of players who have missed a majority of training camp
"Injuries set guys back. It limits the amount of reps they're able to get. It limits them from showing their true talent and what they could do, so injuries hurt a lot of guys during this process, so hopefully guys can bounce back and put good film out there. I always tell our guys, 'It's not about just making our team.' We want our guys able to make the NFL and that's what it's about – staying healthy, being available so you can showcase your talents not only to us here, but also to the other 31 teams."
On if it's difficult to have an honest conversation with players about their performance
"You'd have to ask the players. It's not difficult for me because as a coach, I always vow to never lie to a player. I never tell them something just to soothe their feelings. I always just want to tell them – be honest with them – but that's honest in a humble manner, not in an arrogant way. I want to make sure that I'm telling them in a loving manner and I'm telling them what's right. It's not a thing where I'm degrading guys. It's just an honest truth and it's done in a loving manner."
On experiencing cut day and the emotions that come with it now as a head coach
"The cut day will be very – it's a touchy day, and it's hard on me having to tell someone that their dream is kind of over here, but hopefully it continues somewhere else. And that's a tough position to be in as a head coach. This will be my first time doing that, and it's very tough because I don't look at guys just as players, I look at the human, the man behind. I know how much work guys put in, I know how much they're grinding out on the football field and [that] they're giving their all. And to tell a guy, 'No,' at this time is going to be difficult, but we understand that process, and most of these men in here, they understand the process and they know. They kind of make it easier when you have to go through that because they understand [that] with the numbers we're at and what we have to get to, somebody has to be let go. But it's always an encouraging message to those guys to make sure that you continue to push, you continue to try to make it in the NFL – it's just a 'No' for right now, but the door is always open. We spent so much time with these guys, [so] the door is always open to have the opportunity to come back. Whether it's practice squad or maybe coming back to our team later in the year – so it's never a closed door and I try to make that understood to the guys."
On if QB C.J. Stroud will be the starter on Sunday
On what he remembers from DE Jerry Hughesfrom his time playing and on how much he has impressed him now as a head coach
"Yeah, I remember Jerry [Hughes] when he came out, being a local kid here from Houston – and I just remember how productive of a pass rusher Jerry was. And [I] never really met him personally until I started coaching here, and one thing I've come to love about Jerry is just [that] he's a consistently hard worker. To be a veteran guy, one of our older guys on the team, he's always showing up, he's always working hard and showing the young guys how it's done. Like, being that true vet, passing on knowledge to the younger guys – I'm very appreciative of Jerry for the role he's played in helping us, because we have a very young team, and for him to be unselfish and share and teach the younger guys, it means a lot to me."
On how much opportunity there is for guys to prove themselves in the final preseason game at New Orleans
"You always see how the game goes. It's never [that] a team is set for me until the cut down day, and even on cut down day, there's always moves being made. There's a ton of transactions that happen in the NFL a lot of times, so it's almost like there is no such thing as a final 53, because even throughout the season, that's always changing. So, hopefully our guys go out and play very well on Sunday."
On how he handles naming/announcing starters at other positions apart from quarterback
"With the starting [lineup], and those questions – nobody every asks me who is starting at linebacker or who is starting at safety and who is going out there first. [laughs] It's all about the quarterback, right? So, I get it, but everybody is vying for a job here. We know we put a lot of emphasis on the quarterback and that position, but we have to see who is going to be starting up front in the [defensive] line, who is going to be starting on the [offensive] line, [running] back – like, [there's] competitions all over our team for who wants to be the first guys going out there. And, to me, that's the only way I see it. Nobody is handed anything. For me, starters – you go out and prove to your teammates in practice every day, in the meeting rooms. Like, how you show up to work every day, how you're a leader, how you're protecting the team – it's more encompassing than just ball. We want guys who are dependable, guys we can count on when we line up. So, all 22 guys – who are those guys? We're still figuring that out."
On if QB C.J. Stroud has earned the right to be the starting quarterback
"In everybody's case, we'll see who earns what, and you'll see our starters in Baltimore."
On if he tells his players who is starting and what the lineup will look like
"It's a work in progress each day. I'm not going telling each individual guy, 'Hey, you're our starter.' That's not what I do. I just want to see guys just work. And for our locker room, when it comes to that about starters – our guys, they don't need to be worried about that. If they're worried about just being the best at their craft and doing the best job that they can [do] – being a great teammate, being accountable to their team. If they do that, then they separate themselves, so that's what I want. I just want guys who put their head down, guys who work hard, guys that do what we ask them to do, guys who love playing football, and guys who enjoy winning, because we want to build a winning culture here. So as many players as we can get who have a winning attitude, they want to show that every single day – those will be the guys we go out with versus Baltimore."
On who is going to be starting at linebacker
"We'll see." [laughs]
On if he plans to play everybody in this next preseason game
"Yes, we'll play everybody in this preseason game, as well."
On how many reps the starters will get against the Saints
"Yeah, we'll see. As of right now, our plan is to get our first guys probably about two series' and see how that goes and allow the younger guys to have a lot of work in the game."
On if he views having other coaches call plays during preseason games as an opportunity to show their abilities to other organizations
"With coaches, I see it the same as I talked about the players. It's about being faithful over the little things. You just be consistent at what you do. Whatever your job is, be the best at that job and everything else will take care of itself. No one needs to pump their chest or beat their chest and say, 'Look at me,' type of attitude. It's just about being humble, working hard and you'll get lifted up at the right time."