HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
Do you have any updates on the players who are coming off injuries?
"We have a plan for a few of our guys that are coming off injuries. It's a scheduled day off for Derek (Stingley Jr.), Justin Britt and a few others, but as you can see the days we've asked him to play, he's performed well and getting better. Learning, growing, love what he's doing."
Have you been pleased with K Ka'imi Fairbairn's kicks?
"Yeah, they are playing their end and they are one of the guys. Then all of a sudden, boom, it's that time. Last play of the game, we need our kicker to come in, put it between up rights, he did that. So big plans for him. We're expecting big things from him this year."
What have you seen from DL Ogbonnia Okoronkwo?
"He's on record of being a pass rusher in the league. I mean, that's why we signed him, you know, to bring another local guy back home. He's a legitimate pass rusher, so we'll have a plan for him."
Can you talk about the secondary in the red zone?
"Just in general, you know, most quarterbacks will tell you they would like for you to line up and show them pre-snap what you're going to do. Most defenses aren't going to do that. Some days out here, is a day that we are going to be doing a lot of disguising. Other days like today, you didn't see any. I mean, it's just a vanilla day today. It still kind of comes down to you get in position and making plays. Sometimes you're going to put, for me, want to put the defense in a tough situation. Where the offense knows, you have to make a play, man on man."
How often do you have conversations with a guy about how he's performed in practice?
"It's constant feedback on how you're doing, really from play-to-play. A guy does something we don't like, that should be corrected then. We watch video. Everything we do, we video and then, on like off-days when you have a chance, a little bit more time, maybe some individual things, and that's just getting ready. We are preparing guys, getting ready for the first preseason game. Then, of course, what they put on video, we'll put a little bit more into it once it starts happening for real against an opponent."
What are you looking at going into the preseason and going up against another opponent?
"Any time they keep score, you want to win, but that's not the total focus. Live tackling the quarterbacks, running backs, cut blocking, all of that. So, what I want to see in the game is how guys finish and it's more about the individual play before we collectively put the team together. So that's what I can't wait to see. We are going to try to give as many guys an opportunity to play as possible. If we win at the end of the day, that's fine, but it's something bigger we are trying to get accomplished."
What has LB Garret Wallow showed you to get more playing time?
"You get playing time when you get opportunities and you do something. You know, show up each day, and then show out making plays, just that. And when you get an opportunity to do multiple things, the more things you can do, the better you are at helping our team and staying on our team."
How is the competition for the slot receiver?
"We have legitimate competition I feel like at just about every position. And what you want to see right now, no mental (errors) and the guys have their bodies in good shape to be able to perform once we get to New Orleans. I can't say that I'm disappointed in any position. Our guys are getting themselves in position now to play and play well but, I know what to do. You know, now it's about having ability to go out there and do it."
Are there any players in particular who have stood out to you during training camp?
"You know, I kind of hate to say, until you finish a play, you never know. Like for our quarterback, they know we are not going to touch them. Receivers know we are not going to hit them. Defensive linemen know that you are not going to get cut. So, trying not to put too much into it right now. We just want to make sure that the guys are practicing hard and know what they are doing. Then we'll get to that next phase. After that first preseason game, I can talk a little bit more. That really tells you, everybody, where they are."
What goes in the preparation of being able to manage your players, especially in this heat?
"Well, first off, to me, football is hard, so you got to grind a little bit. You know, typical game, some of our guys are going to maybe play 70 plays. Only way you get ready to play that, you've got to grind in it, the heat. This just makes you stronger when you go through a little adversity. That's what they are doing. Training camp is not designed to feel great every day. We want them spent. We want them to empty the tank every day they come out here. We have been around it a few times and we're right on course, I'll just say that."
So that's that old school mentality?
"It's old school, but it's new school. It's winning football. That's old and new. To do well and to be able to finish, you've got to put work into it and that's what we're doing."
How have you seen DL Adedayo Odeleye improve and transition his game?
"Well, he knows more the rules on how we play it. Just think of an infant, and with a big body, that's where he is. But the guy is so eager to learn and he has ability. So, we're going to love just kind of working with him this year. You know, the question was asked, who have you seen that's made a lot of progress throughout. He has a longways to go but we have seen a lot of improvement from him."
DB DESMOND KING II
Who is the most dangerous wide receiver you've faced in the NFL that isn't on your team?
"There's a lot of guys in the NFL that's dangerous. You've got Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, those type of caliber guys and different type of techniques. There's definitely multiple talents and then we have new guys coming into the league as well as rookies."
What is it like to have a relationship that is so close with DB Tavierre Thomas?
"Just knowing that we've got that relationship. Knowing whenever we're on the field, knowing we've got each other's back and trying to establish that with the rest of the team. That's something we want to bring here and build into the culture."
Is the competition more unique between you and DB Tavierre Thomas?
"Absolutely. Absolutely. That's where that phrase come from, iron sharpens iron. We see each other on the field, we both want to go hard and try to outdo each other but it's just going to make each other better."
What do you feel like y'all have accomplished since y'all put pads on this far into camp?
"Just asking another phase to our offseason, man. This is another phase that we are going through, kind of trying to gel everything together before the first preseason game. I feel like we're doing a really good job right now. We have rookies that's showing their talent, like Jalen Pitre and Dameon Pierce, those are two rookies that I've seen that have actually kind of stood out to me. They are doing exactly what they need to come here to do and getting ready for the season."
What stands out about DB Jalen Pitre and RB Dameon Pierce?
"(Jalen) Pitre, his ball awareness. When the ball in the air, he can go get it, he finds it and attacks the ball. (Dameon) Piece, he's explosive. That's a guy that we kind of need on our offense running the ball. Whenever he gets the ball, he gets those tough yards, those tough third and short yards, which is exactly what we need for our offense."
Talk about the importance of the red zone and disguising the defense, what's the mindset going through the season and for you guys to be able to stop offenses?
"As far as defense, we want to get the ball, get turnovers, force the ball and get the ball back to our offense as much as we can. If we can't get the turnover, that's great, but we don't want to give up touchdowns in the red zone, if we can, force the field goal, but the goal is to get a turnover."
Obviously a hot day, do you feel like you've had enough juice or was this a difficult practice?
"Every day is going to be tough. I feel like what we do out here is just getting us ready for the season. Guys, we do practice, no-huddle, practice tempo offense, and I think that's just going to make us better for the season when other teams try to do that against us."
Can you talk about DB Jalen Pitre's instinct?
"I haven't watched much film on him but like I said, what I see out here is what we need in our back end, secondary. That's what we preach, we want to get the ball and we want to get interceptions, turnovers, force fumbles, and he's been out there doing that."
After adding talented new guys and getting more familiar with the system your second year, do you think you can do some things in the secondary that the team wasn't capable of last year?
"That's what we trying to figure out now. That's what training camp is about. We putting people in places so we can see what we have in our secondary and kind of place them in our right position."
As a veteran, you take the special teams reps just as serious as a defensive back reps. How important is setting the bar high for the young players?
"It's important for me because I want to work on my craft each and every day. I know that's where they depend on me a lot back there and that's very important for our team. I can help our offense out by scoring touchdowns, getting them in great field position and probably -- I don't want to put them in bad positions, so I want to take that serious each and every day I come out here."
Are those new earrings? Who made them?
"My girlfriend got them for me. It was a gift. I don't know who made them, though."
LB GARRET WALLOW
What do you feel like you've improved on since your first year?
"I would just say, mentally on the field, just being a lot quicker, reading things a lot quicker and that comes with being in the system for a second year. Physically, working with Mike (Eubanks) all season and the whole strength staff has helped me change my body around and just help me get in better shape for year."
What do you feel like you all have accomplished in training camp?
"I feel like it started since the OTAs. I felt like a lot of chemistry is being built. I felt like there's a lot of energy, enthusiasm in the building now and on the field. Everybody has that locked-in mindset, wants to do their job, run to the football, things like that. I just think there's a lot of great energy and I think a lot of great things are happening on the field right now."
How did you develop your instincts to go find the ball?
"A lot of that just comes from playing football for so many years, since I was younger. It's the kind of thing that you're naturally born with it or you can definitely learn from it. But a lot of it's just studying film, understanding formations, understanding personnel, just understanding who is on the field and why, what's the down and distance, things like that. So much goes into thinking, but a lot of it is reacting, too."
What do you think your role is within the competition for the starting linebacker job?
"There's a lot of great guys in the room, great competition going on right now. The main thing is just coming in every day for everybody and just being consistent and just let everything take care of itself."
Can you talk about the Louisiana presence on the team now?
"Yeah, it's always a good thing to see a lot of people from Louisiana come together. The personalities I see within those guys reminds me a lot about myself. So it's always good to have that hometown reminder."
How's it having LB Christian Harris in the linebacker core?
"Very smart, intelligent, as a young guy, we are always having talks. It's crazy because sometimes he leans on me for advice and I'm like, man, that was the same last year, right and I'm still the same. I'm always trying to learn from somebody but he's also trying to learn from me now. Just being able to help him any way I can has been important."
What's it like going from being a rookie last year to your second year?
"Feels like yesterday I was a rookie. Time flies really, really fast. Time doesn't wait for anybody and I tell everybody that all the time. But it feels good, knowing what to expect and being able to attack it from a different mindset, a different mentality. It's definitely been a blessing."
What's stood out to you about DB Jalen Pitre and RB Dameon Pierce?
"(Jalen) Pitre, he's a ballplayer. He's a ball hog. He just has a knack for the football and I've known that from playing him when he was at Baylor. He was a great player there, too. Dameon Pierce, man, great running back, quick, shifty, fast. They are both going to be great players and that's for all the rookies, too."
After getting engaged in the offseason, do you feel like you're growing both on and off the field?
"It's been huge, man. Me and my fiancée are excited about it. We finally got a date for the wedding, so that's exciting. Got her a wedding planner to help her out with that process. Just being able to kind of move forward off the field too has been exciting for me. I've seen a lot of growth over the past coming years and taking it a day at a time and just keep going is the main goal for me."
What are your personal expectations for this season?
"Main thing is just to be a factor for the team, right. You always want to be a factor, make plays for the team and do whatever you can for the team, right. Another thing is just be consistent every day, good day or bad day. Just be consistent and bring that same energy and enthusiasm every day."
TE PHARAOH BROWN
Do you feel you're a big target and the team has some chemistry now?
"I feel very confident in what I can do. Right now, it's just building trust with (Davis) Mills, the offense and with everybody."
Can you talk about TE Brevin Jordan's personality?
"He's just an overall funny guy. Y'all kind of saw him yesterday but he's just naturally just funny. He's just his self. I think that's what it is."
After putting in some work this offseason, are you seeing that paying off in training camp?
"Yeah, I feel good. My body feels good. It's just a process, everything is going as how I envisioned it and how I see it. So for me, it's just a narrow focus and focusing day-by-day and just following the process."
Is it a speed thing? Is it a strength thing? Combination of everything?
"It's a mental thing, me versus me. I'm definitely way faster. I joke with the tight ends because I've got the fastest time right now in camp. I'm waiting for them to beat it but they are not going to beat it yet because everybody's legs heavy right now. I know Seth (Green), he said he was going to beat it yesterday, so we'll see if he beats it -- it's just everything for me."
How you guys are using this offense and what are you looking forward to about playing?
"I'm looking forward just to – Pep (Hamilton) is a smart guy. He puts us in a lot of good situations and it's just building on top of that. Yesterday in the red zone, I caught the fade just one-on-one with a small corner. Today, we came back and hit him with a slant. So now that road is growing, being able to flex out and take advantage of little, small DBs."
How instrumental are you with TE Brevin Jordan's growth this season?
"I mean, Brevin's (Jordan) growing. I'm just always there. Whenever he needs me, I'm there. Whenever he asks questions, I'm there. I just give him advice and just help him as I see fit."
Is the vibe different with HC Lovie Smith and the coaching staff?
"I mean, it's a great vibe. The vibe's definitely different from last year. Everybody's buying in. Lovie (Smith) commands a certain respect, a certain discipline. You know, he's kind of cool, laid back but he's kind of like your -- like your father, like you know, you aren't going to really try him, you know what I mean. Even though he's calm and cool, it's that respect factor that he has."
What did you learn from last season and how did that affect what you did this offseason?
"I learned a lot last season. What I took from it was just my mental, so after the season, I did a lot of stuff, just getting my mind right, getting my body right, just getting everything right. Last year, was not one of my best years. I really just came out just a whole totally different player. I think it was a learning lesson, and you kind of go through that, everything. You have some kind of setbacks and it's kind of helped propel me to where I'm at now."
Did you do anything different with your preparation? Did you add anything?
"I mean, I changed everything. After the season, it was just a full change. I always did like pilates and stuff like that, but I mean, I was a fat guy last year. One of the lineman just was like, 'I'm proud of you, man. You were a big o-line tight end last year and now you're out there catching balls.' I told him, 'Yeah, I got a new financial advisor and they told me the blocking tight end gets the minimum.' I'm trying to get a David Njoku (Cleveland Browns TE) deal after this year, so we have to catch a lot more balls. A lot of that went into it and now I'm right where I want to be."
How important is your family to your mental state?
"My family is awesome. You kind of deal with so much outside of here that plays a part of you being on the field, and I mean, my wife was with me every step of the way, and going through the same things that I was doing to help me get to where I'm at in my mindset. So we kind of take a family approach to everything and they all do the same thing I do. My mom, she also went on like a retreat with me as well. She's over there video recording. So it helped her because she was -- just moved to Houston and going through some stressful things and I mean, anything that I'm doing, I like to bring my family on to get the same experience because no matter what you do, everybody is going through some mental stress and it's really good to take self-care."
What do you want to see out of yourself this year expectations wise?
"I want to go out there and be me. I don't have any certain expectations. My expectations are to win a lot of games and get wealthy doing it. So I want to win a lot of meaningful games and I want to get wealthy. I want to have generational wealth. Everything falls right into those two categories for me."
How did you slim down and what are the keys during the offseason?
"I feel like the slimming down thing, I'm definitely way slimmer. I don't know what it was because it was kind of like I was 280 when I started. When I got here, I was 277 and the body fat was up. So I dropped my body fat from like 18 (percent). I'm like 14.9 (percent). So by Week 1, we're trying to be down to the lowest I've ever been, which was like 14.1, so we're trying to get to 13.9 percent body fat. It was kind of like the process I talked about, I was getting on the scale and the weight wasn't changing. Then I came here, and I mean it was just like -- it really was just like trust the process. I really leaned on our people here, Ladd (Harris, Director of Team Wellness) and everybody, and I just kept doing what they were saying and he just kept saying, don't worry about it, don't worry about it. It was kind of like when I got back, it just happened. I just credit the process and the support of the people here."
Was your diet pretty healthy before that?
"My diet was healthy, but it was the small stuff. I eat healthy, but I bathe all my meat with Sweet Baby Rays, you know what I mean, so it was all the sugar and high fructose corn syrup you don't really notice. You're like, oh, I'm eating healthy but I've got all these sauces and stuff. That really played a part, the small details that really set it apart."
What's your excitement level about playing New Orleans?
"It's exciting to play the first preseason game. We're always going against our guys and even though you wear pads, we're still checking. So we're taking care of our guys. Nobody is trying to finish a guy. If we have like a crack back block, we're going to let the guys know we are not trying to kill them on the crack back block. But Saturday, it's all -- it's fair game. I'm just excited to see all these young guys and the defensive guys go out there and really hit somebody and the offensive guys, our O-line let the leash off and get after somebody else."
Where are you at weight-wise? Did somebody push you to losing weight?
"Last year, just watching myself on film, I was moving like molasses. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't explosive. Right now, I'm 262 and feel good, feeling fast. Like I said, it was all part of the plan. At this level when you're blocking, you get minimum deals, you know what I mean, blockers get minimum deals in this league. And like I said, I'm trying to win a lot of games and get rich -- get wealthy, not rich, get wealthy doing this. You have to catch the ball to get wealthy. The blocking is still in my toolbox and that's what sets me apart because I can block, I can still line up in the backfield and I also can split out and take advantage of corners. I'm running all kind of routes. My route tree has grown. Right now, it's just how will we plan to use me on a week-to-week basis."
Can you talk about blocking out on special teams?
"Yeah, I never get too big on the football field. I can do anything and everything, whatever is asked of me, kickoff return, punt, punt return, special teams, a lot of guys, they get a certain point in their career where they don't want to do those of things but I love the game, I love football. I'll get out there on kickoff if they let me. So my coach is trying to take care of my legs during this time but I still like to get out there and get reps. I'm like on Seal Team Six right now, so if they need me to come in on special teams, I'm definitely -- I'm definitely all for it."