“From an injury standpoint, Marques Colston did not practice and he’ll be out. Aaron Glenn (ankle) did not practice and he’ll be out for this game. Randall Gay (hamstring) was limited today; Mike Karney (ankle) did not practice; Mark Campbell (hamstring) was limited today; David Patten (groin) did not practice; Jeremy Shockey (hernia) did not practice and he’ll be out. Those three players – Colston, Glenn and Shockey will be listed as out. Troy Evans (ankle) did not practice today; Jonathan Goodwin (hamstring) did not practice – he wasn’t on the report yesterday, so that’s the one change. Aaron Stecker (hamstring) was limited; Jammal Brown (hip) was limited; Terrance Copper (hamstring) was limited; Antwan Lake (groin) was limited; Scott Fujita (knee) was limited.”
What exactly is wrong with Jonathan Goodwin?
“It’s his hamstring. Yesterday he tweaked his right hamstring at the end of practice. We waited to see how it was this morning and we held him out.”
Because of his position, might you have to bring in someone else before the game?
“No, I don’t think we would do that. Matt Lehr would be our two center.”
Who would back Lehr up if Goodwin couldn’t go?
“We have Zach Strief who is a guy that could take snaps. We’re going to go into the game with seven linemen like we have, but hopefully we don’t have to go down that road.”
How was practice today?
“We cut it a little short today, but I thought we had good work. It was third down emphasis with nickel. We got a lot done and I think our guys will be focused and ready. This is an important game for us coming back home and we need to play well.”
With all the injuries and having lost two games in a row, is there a lot that changes this week?
“I don’t think so. You look at the gameplan and when it comes to injuries, certain things will change based on personnel, but the way we practice and the way we prepare and how we gameplan and how we go about our work during the week in preparation for the game doesn’t change. The key is just the personnel.”
Has Reggie Bush been very consistent so far this season?
“He has played well. He’s healthy. He has been explosive. He has played well in the kicking game with the big punt return. I think he has been as sharp as I’ve seen him since we’ve been here and when you watch the tape he’s grading out the same way. He’s running well inside and outside and he has been outstanding in the passing game and that’s a credit to him. He had a great offseason.”
Your philosophy since you arrived here has been to play the best players and everyone needs to be ready to play. Does that help in a time like this with so many players out due to injury?
“When you have a roster, it’s a little bit different than college where you’re not 90-deep so your roster are guys that are going to have to be able to play whether or not they started the season out as a starter. I think that’s the case with a lot of teams in our league. Obviously you hope to get healthy quicker than later, but these other guys are NFL players that we’re counting on to play and to play well.”
Do you think this team is reacting differently than they have in the past?
“It’s a mature group. I think they understand the things that we need to improve on and I think we’ve had good focus. It starts with leadership and accountability and I think we have that.”
What are the main things that you focus on this week?
“You try to focus on the things from a week ago that you need to improve on. We’ve talked about our goal-line situations, short-yardage, we’ve talked about tackling and continuing to create the turnovers, the pass rush. It’s all the little things that go into a good game. There were a lot of things to build from last week in regards to how we played and yet there are some things that we have to clean up, and then this team is a different opponent so we have things that are much different. That’s what you do in the workweek.”
What do you think you have done best as a team?
“I think the quarterback is playing real well. I think we’re doing a lot better job on the back end of coverage. That’s something that with some young players like Tracy Porter that you’re going to see improvement week-to-week on. Those are some of the things off the top of my head. We’re throwing it pretty consistently and I think our third downs have been good. But that being said, it’s another week now and it’s a different scheme defensively and it’s a different scheme for us in regards to what we’re seeing from them offensively.”
Do you think the Saints’ run defense gets enough credit?
“It starts with hoping to make a team one-dimensional. Usually if a team is two-dimensional – having success running it – then it becomes that much easier to throw the ball because you’re committed to stopping the run. Early on, I think it’s important for us to have a handle on (Frank) Gore; he’s an exceptional player and we have a lot of respect for him. What they’re able to do now is that they’re able to throw the ball a lot more effectively than they have in the past and that’s why you’re seeing their success.”
With all the changes on offense, is this a game where the defense has to step up?
“We never turn and say that it’s one side of the ball or the other. We have to play our best game and that means eliminating some of the penalties, looking to still create the turnovers that we were able to last week – we had two and that was encouraging. Overall, I think the team feels that all aspects are extremely important. The kicking game is important because it can come down to one play; it can come down to one return. Those are the things that we’re trying to stay focused on. The turnover ratio and the importance of that when it comes to wins and losses – that hasn’t really changed. Each week you hear me talk about it but it really is something that’s important in the outcome of the game. Last week was an exception in that we finished plus in the turnover ratio and still lost the game. Normally that pays off for you, so that’s one of the big things.”
Do you feel like the defense may have turned a corner in the second half of last week’s game?
“They played a good offense and obviously there was a lot of back-and-forth in that game, but I thought that in the second half we did a pretty good job of slowing things down and I thought we had the momentum. I think we’re playing better on defense and as long as we continue to work on improving from week to week and understand that we can improve – not just on defense, but in all areas – then I think the team gets better. I think it’s important that you work to improve within each week’s gameplan. It’s not just that we’re on to another game, but we’re looking to improve ourselves.”
Do you worry at all about Martín Gramatica after him missing those kicks?
“No, it’s a little unlike him. He has been very consistent for us and I think the biggest thing he needs is my support and our support and I think he feels that he has that with this team in this locker room and he certainly has it with me.”
Q: Can you discuss dealing with the injuries on the team right now?
Drew Brees: "It’s something we’ll deal with as the week goes. It’s something you always have to deal with during the season, usually just not this early. It is what it is. We’ll find a way to deal with it. Obviously it’s an opportunity for some young guys to step up and get some considerable playing time."
Q: Is now the time when this wide receiver corps can prove its depth?
Drew Brees: "Yes, there are some guys that haven’t gotten a whole lot of playing time in the past that are going to need to step up and contribute quite a bit. They are going to get their opportunities at the least. I have all the confidence in the world in that group. Like you said, that’s one of the groups over the last three years that’s been as deep as any and you get into camp, there’s so much competition that you say, I don’t know who’s going to make it, but whoever does, deserved it. Whoever made it deserved this opportunity and they’re going to get it."
Q: Does Lance Moore know that this is a good opportunity?
Drew Brees: "Absolutely. Lance has done a tremendous job since he’s been here, especially the last two years, filling in wherever he can. He’s a guy who’s extremely intelligent, can play every receiver position and has. Now he’s one of those guys due those injuries that we’re able to move around quite a bit and he does a very good job with it."
Q: Do you see defenses keying on Reggie Bush now more than ever?
Drew Brees: "I think Reggie played one of his better games this last week. He continues to get better each week. I think the thing you want to constantly stress to each young player is that you’re only as good as your next performance. You continue to strive to get better. You’re constantly learning. This is my eighth year in the league. That’s the mindset that I go by, each and every game there’s always a new challenge and something else that you feel like, you will continue to grow, but as soon as you’re ripe, you’re rotten. That’s the saying. As soon as you think you’ve arrived, it’s over, it’s all downhill. You either get better or you get worse. There’s no staying the same."
Q: Do you wonder what can go wrong next injury wise?
Drew Brees: "I hope not."
Q: Do you just have to circle the wagons?
Drew Brees: "That’s exactly what it is. I’m confident in every guy who’s going to step on the field on Sunday, whether it’s a starter, a backup, a third stringer, scout team, a guy who doesn’t matter because all those guys have put in the time and they’re going to be prepared and ready to go. I think we have enough and such a great group of core guys on this team, leaders, great character, guys that know we’re going to be able to piece it together. It’s only one guy. It’s about the team."
Q: Was the rhythm of the offense encouraging on Sunday?
Drew Brees: "Yes, after those first two games, we talked as an offense and agreed we hadn’t looked anything like we expected to. We made some big plays in that first game that got us the victory, but as far as consistent play, great tempo, rhythm, maintaining drives, third down efficiency, red zone efficiency, we hadn’t done that yet. This was kind of the first game where we came out of our shell. Hopefully we’ll just consider to be better."
Q: When you look at a guy like J.T. O’Sullivan and what he’s had to do to get where he is, do you have more respect for him?
Drew Brees: "Definitely. I think that most quarterbacks have to go through something like this in their career, some to different degrees than others. I know he’s bounced around a little bit, been in some different systems, but that’s probably only developed him as a player and as a person. He’s getting his opportunity and he’s doing a very good job."
Q: Is the loss of Jamar Nesbit as well as the possible loss of Jammal Brown temporarily going to affect the chemistry of the offensive line?
Drew Brees: "Anytime you lose a guy up front, that’s one of the most cohesive groups on any team, that offensive line. Those five guys need to be working together on any given play in order for it to work. If one guy does the wrong thing, it can mess the whole thing up, so that’s certainly a group that puts in the most time. Those guys are as tight knit a group all around as I’ve ever been a part of, so I’m very confident that the guy who is going to step in is going to gel with all the others like the starter. Certainly, there are some young guys. Nes is the most veteran guy we had on the line. You talk about a young guy stepping in without much experience. That’s just the way it goes and I’m sure he’ll learn quickly."
Q: Is Billy Miller the poster guy for being prepared for whatever is thrown at you?
Drew Brees: "He’s a guy who I have a ton of confidence in. He can play anywhere on the field. He could play receiver if he wanted to. He’s one of those smart, heady, tough guys. He’s played a long time and has a lot of experience and just like you said, he’s ready for anything. Expect the unexpected. Hey Billy, we need you to play running back this week. He’ll be okay. He’ll do whatever he can do for the team."
Q: Can you talk a little bit about San Francisco’s defense right now?
Drew Brees: "When I turn on the film I see a lot of energy, I see flying around. I see pressure on the quarterback. It seems like they’re playing with a lot of confidence. I think when you win, that’s what starts to happen. You get out there and you just feel like you can do no wrong. I see them as a group that’s playing really well together, especially these last two weeks. We have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure."
Q: The names keep changing on the perimeter, but the yards keep flying with you throwing. Champ Bailey said you are a much more confident quarterback than with San Diego. Do you agree with that?
Drew Brees: "I feel like I’m just scratching the surface in terms of what I can accomplish and we can accomplish as a team and as an offense and I do feel confident as I ever have and a big part of that is the guys that I’m surrounded by. This team, our head coach, our coaching staff, the atmosphere and the attitude. That’s taken some time. When I was in San Diego, they were our big divisional rival, a lot of battles back and forth. They would go to the playoffs every year and we were trying to be one of those teams that were going to the playoffs every year. I think a lot of that was personal growth and getting in the right situation. All I can say is I’m happy to be here and I feel as if I’m playing as confident as ever right now because of the guys around me, our head coach and our coaching staff."
Q: Did Carl Nicks make a real impression on you in training camp?
Drew Brees: "Yes, he did really well. He’s a giant. There’s no doubt. I felt just for a college guy to come in, in this style of offense with the tempo that we play at and that sort of thing and pick it up, I’ve been impressed with him. It’s one thing to be big, it’s another thing to be agile and smart and making good decisions up front when things are happening pretty fast, faster than you’ve ever seen it before. He’s coming along."
Q: Can you give some examples of the confidence you have in your receivers?
Drew Brees: "I see (Robert) Meachem improving every week. The more time we get in practice, the more confidence I gain in him. I think a lot of it is just knowing your guy’s strengths, knowing what they do well and knowing what they do not so well, the things they need to work on and you continue to work on those things and fine tune those things in practice that you need to improve on, so that you can get in the game and feel comfortable. Lance (Moore), for the last few years, I’ve had all the confidence in the world in him, I really have and he hadn’t seemed to get a lot of the opportunities of the other guys until now, so I’m happy for him. I think he’s earned it. Obviously I don’t need to talk about David Patten. D.P, I think the world of him. Over the last few years we’ve built a great repor. Devery (Henderson) is one those guys who has been a real big play guy for us the last couple years. His role has expanded because of some of the injuries. I think we practice so well together, on gameday we feel like it’s automatic and it’s going to happen, because it’s happened all week long."