"Well, I'm just really getting my feet back under me, and the coaches understand that," said Coleman, who had 58 1/2 sacks with the Raiders and Falcons between 2001 and 2007, including 22 from 2004 to 2005. "So each day I'm getting better and getting my timing down. I feel like I'm on pace to really be the old me."
"At first it was (frustrating to start over from scratch), but I started out from the bottom," Coleman said. "So I just took it as a challenge to myself. I'm just trying to approach it and get the mindset like everything is stacked against me and just work hard and take it day by day and then go out there the first preseason games and make plays and make some highlight films and just show other teams, 'I'm back.' "
"I think Rod's heading in the right direction," said Johnson, who is optimistic about Coleman's potential. "All I can tell you is this: I think his arrow's pointed in the right direction. Who knows where those arrows stop? When you come in this time as far as evaluations are concerned, all you want to see is them headed in the right direction and let time take care of itself."
"The thing he told me when we went through this process is that, the thing he missed most, is that they used to call him a football player," Johnson said. "The year he wasn't playing, he wasn't a football player anymore, so that tells you about his commitment. It isn't about the money or the contract. It's about the fact that he loves playing the game."
PLAY OF THE DAY
The best example of the back-and-forth competition came when the second-team units were on the field. Tailback Mike Bell was shoved out of bounds by a group of defenders, leading to some jawing back and forth. Then on Bell's next carry a few plays later, he lowered his head and drove into linebacker Mark Simoneau, knocking him to the ground.
Special teams must improve - The Courier
One step forward, two steps back for Arrington - New Orleans Pro Football
Saints return outdoors for Tuesday workout - NewOrleans.com
"I'll be first one to tell you the defense had our number yesterday," Brees said following a practice held at times in a light rain "They stuck it to us. We wanted to respond today with a good practice and I feel like we did."
"He made a couple big catches kind of right there at the goal line, and then kind of busted through a couple arms to get in the end zone," Brees said. "That's where he absolutely comes in handy."
A couple of clips from WWL's Sports Talk. Training camp coverage and a bit with Jeff Charleston.
Drew Brees Transcript
What are your thoughts of Pete Carmichael as an offensive coach?
"He's a great coach, a great offensive coach. He's the guy that really paid his dues, going back to when he was a tight ends coach in Cleveland, a quality control coach in Washington and San Diego and then becoming the quarterbacks coach here in 2006 prior to me coming a month or two later. That meant so much to me to have familiar face around - a guy that I knew and he knew me - and we just worked so well together. Obviously now three years later he's our offensive coordinator and he's a guy who has absolutely earned it. He has gained a lot of respect from everybody on the team, especially us quarterbacks. It's a great dynamic in our quarterback room and it's very conducive to learning. He's constantly challenging us and helping us to prepare to play well on Sundays."
Did Sean Payton solicit any opinion from you when he was looking to fill the offensive coordinator position?
"Sean and I had talked about it before because Pete had had the opportunity after the 2006 season and then after the '07 season to take the offensive coordinator position in Miami on two occasions - the first with Cam Cameron and then with Tony Sparano. That just shows you what other coaches around the league think about Pete; he's highly regarded. He chose to turn down those positions to stay here and I think that was another big reason why Sean knew that we needed to lock him up because other coaches were coming to grab him away."
How did the first day of red zone go today?
"It was good. It's a lot of information in a short amount of time. Granted, we did go over it in OTAs and minicamp and a lot of it is our base stuff that we've been running for three years, but there are some new wrinkles and new coaching points and then obviously we're going against a new defensive scheme. It's just constantly repping it against our guys and then the more our defense understands how to play that scheme, the tougher it becomes for us to get the ball in the end zone. It makes for some really competitive periods because unlike any first down, second down, third down where you're just in the middle of the field, down in the red zone their backs are against the wall trying to keep us out of the end zone and we're trying to get it in the end zone so you find that even periods where there's no tackling, it ends up being when you get close to that goal line that the runners are trying to get in and the safeties and linebackers are trying to keep them out. It becomes really physical."
Would you agree that the offense looked really fluid out there?
"It was. Like I said, they're working on their defensive schemes. Every team has a few things that they do in the red zone and they just try to do it really, really well. Typically it requires you as an offense to be patient but you have to be really accurate with your throws, timing is everything. You're trying to get into good plays and it becomes a big challenge. It's very much a chess match when you're down there. That's what makes it a lot of fun. These red zone practices are a lot of fun."
Was it nice to see Jeremy Shockey use his size on some of those plays down there?
"Yeah. He made a couple of catches right there at the goal line and then busted through a couple of arms to get into the end zone. That's really where he comes in handy."
What have you seen from Robert Meachem so far in camp?
"He's coming around. He just continues to get better every day. He's one of those guys that the more reps that he gets, the more opportunities he gets, he's only going to continue to thrive. I'm really happy for him. I think he has worked extremely hard and we just have to keep finding the right opportunities for him."
How does his knowledge of the offense and maturity help him?
"There are certain things that look good on paper or you might teach it the way that it's written on paper and it's not necessarily always the way that it's drawn up once you get on the field. So much of once you get on the field is feel and not everything is really the same - that can be dependent on the coverage, that can be dependent on the defensive back that you're going up against. That's what studying film is all about and that's why the more repetitions that you get, the more you're able to really hone in on those things. The more time you can spend with your quarterback - I know a lot of times the way I would like to see a route run or where I'm expecting them to be - and that's why we rep this so much and that's why we stay after practice and get those extra reps. The more that we can get on the same page and the less thinking it is and the more just reacting it is, that's when the plays really start to happen and it becomes automatic."
Has there been a change in the amount of time that he's been spending with you in the last couple of years?
"I'd say that starting last year, yeah. In '07, he was really just running reps on practice squad a majority of the time and didn't dress out for many games. He was kind of banged up a majority of that time. Last year, the more he started playing and the more opportunities that he started getting, the more that we were spending time together and getting on the same page. He had a package of plays to start with so we just repped that package of plays. It was, ‘If you have five plays this week, we're going to be as good as we can be at those five routes. Gradually that has expanded to really being the whole offense for him."
Do you have a bigger target area with Marques Colston than with any other receiver?
"Definitely. You can just have him stand here and show you his wingspan."
But he also seems to catch a lot of low balls and throws behind him too. Why is that?
"It's because he has great body control. Most guys like that you can look at and guarantee that he's a good basketball player, which he is. A lot of it you can also see on the hoop court - the way that they position their bodies where they're used to shielding guys off, giving you a place to get them the ball. Then there just comes a confidence level with that. I know that if he's one-on-one, there aren't many times where I'm not going to throw him the ball and know that he's going to make a play and he knows that I'm going to be putting the ball where it's going to be him or nobody, and that's just repetitions."
So you guys have that rhythm to where you could throw behind him and he'll expect that?
"I feel like I could throw it just about anywhere with him and he has a chance to catch it."
You've played basketball with him before. Is it the same in that situation?
"It's the same. We haven't played a whole lot. Nobody wants to hear that we're playing a lot of basketball in the offseason."
Is the play called sometimes so that the throw is to his back shoulder?
"Yes, according to the look. Again, that's a feel thing. That's something that you can draw up on paper but it's not until you get out there. If you rep it enough times, you don't think about the back shoulder you just know that according to the look or the feel, you know that it's going to happen. We call it the ‘clock in your head' - that clock goes off to where they understand that I've probably hit my back-step and I'm ready to throw the ball - in fact I probably have to get it off because the pass rush is going to get to me eventually and here it comes."
Do you feel like that timing and feel is back between you two after his thumb injury?
"It's coming back. We're only a couple of days into camp here. It really takes camp and preseason and just getting those live reps to kind of get back on the same page. Any time you're injured and are out for an extended period of time - and especially when it's a thumb deal like Marques had - it kind of affected the way that he would catch the ball and where I could throw the ball - and so it made a difference. He wasn't catching the ball the same because the thumb wasn't able to move like it used to with the brace that he had on it. Now that he's out here and he's 100% and we're able to get this time together, we'll get that chemistry back."
He said you guys had some time in the summer in California. How was that?
"We were able to see each other in California and then obviously work together quite a bit here in the offseason."
So there's room for improvement this season?
"Are you kidding me? Yeah. There's not much he can't do."
Can you think of particular plays where he has bailed you out?
"You can look at the Carolina game last year. The first touchdown that we threw right before halftime, there was a safety basically standing right there and Marques was running and I threw the ball high because I was trying to throw it to where he could get it and the other guy couldn't and it ended up being one of those balls that was going to be a collision - and I don't like to do that to guys - but Marques jumped up there and snatched the ball and the guy just kind of fell off him. It was one of those throws where I don't know if there's anyone else on the team that I could've made it to, just because of its location. You see him being such a big body that he was able to take that shot while elevated and grabbing the ball and then he falls on his feet, keeps his balance and then runs five yards into the end zone. If any other guy was to catch that, he probably would have fallen down and been hurt. Marques kept his feet and got in the end zone."
Was Antonio Gates like that?
"Yeah. Gates was like that."
Was he more plodding than Marques or almost as fast?
"Gates is a tight end so he isn't as fast, but when I talk about former basketball players and body control and he has that. The thing that Gates has - and Marques does too - is that even though they're big guys, Marques is a receiver at 220 pounds and Gates is a tight end at 250 so different positions, but they both have great suddenness to them. For being big guys that you wouldn't think would be really quick, they have a suddenness to them to where it doesn't seem that they're really running, they're just really fluid and all of a sudden they just give you a little shake and it freezes a defender and just stuns them enough to where then they can gain separation and get by the guy really quickly without the guy really knowing it. I call that suddenness. He's a big guy, he's pretty quick, not extremely fast but he's sudden which allows him to really get separation and put himself in a position to catch a lot of balls."
Did the defensive backs making a lot of plays in practice the last few days get the offense on focus more today?
"Oh yeah. I'll be the first one to tell you that the defense had our number yesterday. They stuck it to us. We wanted to respond today with a good practice and I feel like we did. But you certainly can't sit back on your laurels at any point during training camp because the installation continues so you're always in that learning mode while at the same time having to stay up on the same stuff that we've already installed. When we scrimmage this weekend, it's going to be a little bit of everything so guys are going to have to know what to do. That's when it gets really fun because you really start playing in situations. We'll be moving the chains and third downs will be mixed in there. We'll get in the red zone and get red zone snaps. You're just put in a lot of situations which is good. It's like a real gameand that's what we're trying to simulate."