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Canal Street Chronicles: Fleur-di-Links 8.7.09

There is a lot here this morning. Feel free to read every word as you waste time at work, counting down until this weekend. 



saints83 Great to see the military out at practice today. Thank you for all you do!!!!

reggie_bush Shout out to all the Army Troops who came to practice today! Thank you for all you guys do for our country! You guys are the real heroes!!!   

drewbrees Thanks to Jon Gruden for coming in town to speak to the team tonight and spend some time with us. He is a heck of a guy and football coach    

saints83 Make your haters your motivators< I like this one    


 New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson ideal hire - Times-Pic

"To me, it's an opportunity for somebody else to show that they can play," Johnson said between practices Wednesday. "Then, when they come back, it's an opportunity for us to be stronger in the fifth week of the season. It's an opportunity for us to be stronger in the 16th, 17th, 18th week, because we have somebody else better."

-Bill Johnson

"He has got a good ol' boy sense of humor, but he has also got a good ol' boy sense of kick you in the ass, too," Williams said. "The players love him, and they love being around him. He coaches them hard, but they have a good time because they laugh and joke, too."

-Gregg Williams

"I've tracked Bill for a long time," Williams said. "I was tracking him when he was in college football. I'm really pleased that we finally have a chance to get our contracts matched up, and we get to work together."

-Gregg Williams

"It was harder to hire a staff in '06 than it is in '09," Payton said. "Obviously, I'm biased, but we changed the culture, and how we're perceived in this league nationally is much different. We were able in '09 to hire a Gregg Williams and a Bill Johnson, when I don't know in '06 those same opportunities would have presented themselves."

-Sean Payton

"There was a four-year stretch when he was in Atlanta when they led the league in sacks with a four-man rush," Williams said. "If we're going to be any good here, we've got to do a better job rushing the passer out of a four-man rush."

-Gregg Williams

"Bill is intense," Coleman said. "He makes you dig deeper than you thought you could. It has helped me that I was with him in Atlanta, so I know his mentality and his methods of madness. He's basically going to grind you, grind you and push you to your limits.

"He's still tweaking his vision, but as long as you're working hard for him, he's going to take care of you. He'll go to bat for you as long as he knows you're out there busting your butt for him out there between those white lines."

-Rod Coleman

"People say I'm here because I had to come back to Louisiana," Johnson said. "I promise you, if the things I was looking for as a coach would have been in Canada, I would have gone to Canada to coach. I was looking for an element of what I am as a coach and an opportunity to do that with a group that I could rally together and bond with.

"My passion is coaching defense the way I know how to coach defense. I wanted a four-man front, and this is where it was."

-Bill Johnson


Jon Gruden likes what he sees in New Orleans Saints: With video - Times-Pic

"I really wanted to see Drew Brees up close and watch the Saints carefully because I've got a lot of respect for them, with good reason," Gruden said. "I really think that with the additions that they've made that they have a real chance (to make the Super Bowl)."

-Jon Gruden

"What you see (with Brees) isn't always the whole picture," Gruden said. "What people don't see is Drew Brees behind the scenes. He is as on top of things as you can imagine. This is very important to him -- every snap, the outcome of every play. You couple that with his talent and instinctiveness and the fact that he's a better athlete than people think, and you have what you have -- a superstar quarterback that probably hasn't gotten the national or global recognition that he deserves, especially after last season."

-Jon Gruden

"He's one of the more creative innovators in pro football in the last 10 to 15 years," Gruden said. "He's got results wherever he's been."

-Jon Gruden, on Sean Payton


 New Orleans Saints top pick Malcolm Jenkins' holdout reaches ninth day -

"I feel pretty good, " said Simoneau, who estimated he's about 5 pounds lighter this year, between 230-235 pounds. "It's been a long process getting back to this point. Right now it's just a matter of me getting back to playing football."

-Mark Simoneau

"This game, you don't take anything for granted, " said Simoneau, who began his career in 2000 with Atlanta. "You want to have fun, because it's a game you're playing. But it's a job, and you want to go out every day and earn your position and earn your spot in the team."

-Mark Simoneau


New Orleans Saints have plenty in reserve on the defensive line - Times-Pic


Meachem broke wide open behind the Saints' defense after Brees faked a handoff, then made a brief hitching motion to the left. Brees turned and hit Meachem for a gain of about 70 yards, depending on whether or not nickel cornerback Leigh Torrence would have stopped him short of the end zone in a live drill.


Saints finish 1st week of training camp - The Advocate 

Duckworth, Coleman negotiate jersey swap - The Advocate

Duckworth’s compensation will be a Philly cheesesteak when the team travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in September.


Saints still looking at power backs - Sun Herald

"I’m a bottom feeder just trying to make this team," Bell said. "That’s how I’m going to play no matter what I’m always going to play like a bottom feeder. Right now I don’t have a role yet because I haven’t proven myself.

"I think I became too content in Denver. They named me the starter and I ran for all those yards and led the team in touchdowns. I felt like almost that I was owed something, but in all actuality, it’s a privilege to play in the NFL so you should do whatever they ask you to do."

-Mike Bell

"It helps me feel more confident in filling a role here and more comfortable within the offense," Hamilton said. "When you’re a rookie, your eyes are so far wide open because you really don’t know what to expect. That’s different for me now. It helps with confidence because the staff on its own already felt we had the guys already here in the building."

-Lynell Hamilton


Camp Blog, Day 7: Offense, Drew Brees owns defense; Bush practices -WWLTV

Saints: Thursday afternoon practice report -

SIRIUS XM's Solomon Wilcots and Adam Schein at Saints Camp Friday - 

Day Seven Practice Notebook - New Orleans Saints official website

Kristian: STC Day 7 / Practice 1 - WWL




More "extreme" training camp coverage from WWL's Sports Talk including Billy Miller and Mickey Loomis in the first clip.



John Gruden Visits at Saints Training Camp




Sean Payton Press Conference Transcript

From the New Orleans Saints official website

Opening Statement:

"Mike Bell had a little bruised hip but we think he's going to be fine. He had a pretty good practice. Overall, I thought it was a pretty physical practice. I was pleased - both sides of the ball did a good job responding. I thought we handled the heat pretty well. We got our two-minute offense and defense in today; it was the first time that we got to install it in this camp. It's a pretty important installation since so many of the games we play in are close in the fourth quarter and also in the second quarter. We'll work on it again tomorrow as well."

It looked like Devery Henderson got up limping a little bit in the two-minute drill. Is he alright?

"I think he was more tired. Those guys get gassed in a drill like that, especially coming off of a team period. I think he's fine."

Is Mark Simoneau fighting for a job on the 53-man roster or do you have him slated in there?

"We don't have a lot of guys slated in. Mark is a guy that we understand exactly what we have in him and I like that. He has experience playing the Mike and the Will. He's a guy that can play in the kicking game. Certainly he's competing - like all these guys are - for a job and right now he's our number two Mike. He's our fourth linebacker in the game if we were playing this weekend. He has recovered well from the injury, he's close to being healthy - he's not 100% healthy, but he's close - and that's encouraging."

Are you throwing him in there when you go to that 3-4 look?

"He's in that package. We have a handful of packages that we're trying to move guys around in."

What's it like to have Jon Gruden here to watch practice?

"It's good. He's here for a couple of days. My first job in this league in 1997 was with him in Philadelphia as he was the offensive coordinator. For me it was like going to law school. It was my first exposure to the NFL and an NFL offense. He's one of the few coaches that wherever he's at, we study his tape very closely; we have that much respect for him. We met today for awhile offensively, he'll speak to the team tonight, and he has been a huge influence on my career."

How long do you think he'll be out of the coaching game?

"I think he's going to have a lot of opportunities. I do think he's going to do a great job for Monday Night Football. He's one of those guys - and I'm not comparing him to John Madden - but after awhile we viewed John Madden as a sports announcer and we forgot how good of a coach he was. One of the reasons was that he was very charismatic as an announcer and a guy that was really easy on the ear and I think that Jon has those same traits. He certainly has a coach's perspective, but more importantly he has a personality that I think will appeal to everybody - not just the avid football fan. He's going to have a lot of choices in his life and he's very talented. So if he does come back, hopefully it's in a different division. We really respect him. He has been a big help to me and he has been a big help these last couple of days just looking at some things offensively and looking at our team."

And now he has inside scoop on you guys?

"He has inside scoop but there's a tradeoff. Drew Brees had a chance to sit in our meeting today. We met for about three hours at lunchtime, just going over football and talking football. He's someone that would be up at 3:15 in the morning, in the office by 4:00, and before most guys are drinking their first cup of coffee he has three hours of work in. It's real important to him. I've learned a lot over the years from him, especially those early years. Even after that, he has given me a lot of sound advice. He's one of the few guys that I call on any decision and I respect his opinion a lot. I'm glad he's here."

Did it seem like the pass offense really got going today?

"It was kind of back and forth. I thought Drew did some good things. We caught the ball and we blocked up front pretty well in the pass drills. I thought the defense played real well in the run drill. In the full contact period that we had, I thought we did a real good job defensively. It was a physical practice and fortunately guys stayed up. It's good to have the officials here now. They'll be here for tomorrow and Saturday and they'll help us along the way. They'll have a chance to meet with you guys as well."

As a former quarterback, can you appreciate when Drew gets into one of those rhythms like he was today?

"For him, that's kind of the bar. He works at it extremely hard. I thought we did a good job today of giving him a good pocket, but he was in rhythm and he made some big throws. We rely on those. We keep trying to find different formations and plays to get guys open. He has a great way of handling it all and digesting it and bringing it all to the field. He's real special that way. It was good to see."

Is it easy to get spoiled when you have a quarterback like that?

"If you coach long enough, you're going to be on both sides of the spectrum and it makes you appreciate what you do have. It was good to see. We'll keep battling; tomorrow we have two practices. The morning will be outside and then in the afternoon we'll go inside."

Are you happy with the way you've managed this camp, with going inside and everything?

"I think it has helped us some. It's still tough. We're still treating it like a camp. That hotel is set up much like it would be at a true training camp. I think we've done a good job with the balance of inside and outside. Today was a hot practice and you need to get conditioned to this heat because we're going to play in it. And you need to have a little bit of balance and that's what the indoor facility gives us."

Is there urgency on your behalf to get Malcolm Jenkins in here?

"Anytime you get into training camp and you're at the end of your first week, that sense of urgency applies. That being said, it's like I tell our team - there are some things that we can and can't control. As the head coach, I have to focus on what I can control. I know that both parties are doing a great job of trying to get this thing done and both parties are extremely talented at doing this; they've done it for a long time, Mickey (Loomis) and Khai (Harley) and Ben Dogra and Tom Condon from CAA. The good news is that we have experienced guys in the positions of importance as it comes to negotiations. I think both sides will do a good job."

What were those days like in Philadelphia?

"Tough. I learned a lot. There wasn't a lot of sleep, but it was good."

Were you married then?

"We were married. I had just taken a job at Maryland - I was there for two months and then got hired by the Eagles in March. My daughter was born two weeks after we moved to Philadelphia. That was our first child. Jon was married with two children and we were just young coaches. I think he was 32 or 33, I was 32 and for me it was coming in and learning a system from square one. It's something that I still use to this day, in regards to the base terminology and how we operate."

Who else was on that staff?

"Bill Callahan, Joe Vitt, Mike Trgovac, Emmitt Thomas. There were a lot of good coaches. Juan Castillo is still the offensive line coach on that staff. Like I said, it was my first exposure to this league and it was a big learning curve."

Did you share an office, you had the couch and he had the desk?

"I didn't have a couch. I had a corner of the couch and little cell phone. I left Maryland where I had an office overlooking the stadium, mahogany desk, everything. We were in the basement of Veterans Stadium and I had the corner of his sofa, but it was worth it."

How is Chip Vaughn progressing?

"He's doing well. There's a lot to learn as a rookie at safety. He's doing some things. He's flashing for us. I'm anxious to see when the bullets are live, in the scrimmage and in these preseason games we're going to be able to get a feel. He's doing well."

Why did you think Mark Brunell would be a good backup for Drew Brees?

"The first thing you want to hear is the interest level of the player in still wanting to play. When you deal with someone with his experience, you want to make sure their heart, mind and body are still in it. There's a lot of stress that goes on even when you're not taking the snaps in the games. But you have to make the preparation each week as if you're going to take the snaps. Second, you want to make sure he's still in shape and has the juice he once had. He brings a calm demeanor and confidence to the huddle and that's something I think is important."

Does it help that Mark knows his role?

"The trick and this is no secret that in the weekly preparation and grind as you prepare to get ready each week, knowing that you might not play, but that you might play in week eight or 14. It's not like a relief pitcher. There's a big difference, because there's a good chance his name's going to get called in two or three games. So at that position, it's the mental focus and the work ethic to be prepared."

You also want a team guy in that position?

"There's no question about that. He's a great sounding board for Drew (Brees)."

Have you seen him be a real asset to this team?

"That role you don't know until the guy gets on campus, but I think the players have a lot of respect for him and would say he's an outstanding teammate. I know that Drew has a lot of confidence in him and trusts him a lot in his conversations."

You guys made some tough decision with some veterans that were injured to move on this offseason. Why did you decide to keep Mark Simoneau?

"I don't think his injury was as significant and I think from an age standpoint, I think he's got some more years left. He's a guy that takes great care of his body and a lot has to do with the recovery time when he was able to come back. Doctors felt good about his prognosis and we did as well. Those are all things we felt were a plus. He has a lot of versatility, which is a good thing to have at linebacker."

How do you think Rod Coleman is doing?

"I think he's doing well. He's getting in shape. He's a guy that played at a high level in Atlanta.Bill Johnson had some experience in coaching him at Atlanta and we felt like he was worth the opportunity to look at and see if he can get his body back and get in the shape we think we can. We think he still has some miles left. So far, he's been able to battle through it. I think he's handling things well. We'll get a chance to see in the preseason how he's doing."

Have you nailed down a scrimmage schedule?

"It will be much like the last three years. The ones will go against the two defense. The two offense will go against the one defense and threes against threes. The next time it will be the one offense against the one defense, two versus two and three versus three. We'll put the special teams in between."

How many scripted plays are there?

"I think we have scripts of eight and ten and keep the drive alive. If all of a sudden you have a drive going, we'll let it finish out."

How haGarrett Hartley done the last few days?

"The big thing is dealing with the timing, the snap-hold-kick. His leg looks strong. I'm excited about him as a kicker. I think we found someone last year. I think he did a good job in some tough circumstances and handled the game snaps well. Once we get going here, it's an important evaluation making sure he stays on top of things."

Is it tough for him to adjust to a new snapper?

"There's a rhythm in there. We'll be able to work through it."


Gregg Williams Press Conference Transcript


Where do you feel you stand at this point of camp?

"Every day we're getting a little bit better. I'm starting to learn a little bit more about the guys by seeing them compete and push through being tired and soreness and all that stuff. We're still not playing with live bullets. We've had one drill since we've been here where we've had live tackling down there on the inside run period, which was good. But a defense is measured by how well you tackle. We haven't had much time with live tackling, but I do like their effort, I do like their want-to and for the most part, I do like their smarts."

Is a lot of what you bring to the team instilling a mentality?

"It's attitude. It's so much about attitude. It starts with attitude. Tackling starts with attitude; toughness starts with attitude; technique starts with attitude. I come from a family of coaches with attitude in Buddy Ryan and Dick LeBeau and all those guys that I've been around, Dom Capers and obviously Jeff Fisher being my best friend in coaching. We've all coached defensively with that kind of a mindset. These guys have a great attitude; there's a very good locker room here. I'm pleased to date, but we're still a long ways off."

Is that attitude part of the reason that we've seen some of that chippiness lately?

"That is, and I don't see that being negative. We have to protect our teammates. We obviously don't want to hurt our own teammates in practice, but we do want to play with a chip on your shoulder. You have to play like you're living on the edge. I'll pull them back if they get too close to the edge."

Is Bobby McCray one of the more versatile guys you have on the defense?

"He is. He reminds me a lot of Jevon (Kearse), when I had Jevon early on a long time ago. We've kind of migrated and moved on and added a lot of new things for a guy like that. I didn't get a chance to do as many things with Jevon - he was a very rare player and still a really good player, but I see a lot of similarities there and I'm really excited about the opportunity to coach him. He's had a very good spring and he has had a very good training camp to date."

Does he have a particular strength? Is it coming off the edge as a pass rusher?

"Here's the deal - he's not bad against the run. I've had guys that are slender - not 300-pound guys - that have been great run players. Why would a safety that weighs 215 be a great run player but yet a guy that weighs 260 or 270 like him not be? He'll be a good run player. He's a really good, instinctive athlete. He can do a lot of things I can't coach. Mom and dad blessed him with a lot of skills and movement and change of directions. I'm looking forward to try to find some things to try to get him isolated on some people."

You said the other day that you weren't overly concerned with Malcolm Jenkins not being here because he had picked up a lot in OTAs. Are you getting concerned now that he's still not here?

"That's just a part of the business. He's a great kid, he really is. He's a sharp kid and I feel sorry for him going through that. Am I concerned? It depends on how long it takes. I happened to be on a team last year that had a first-round draft choice that didn't sign until the day of the last preseason game - Derrick Harvey, a bright young player and I think he's going to be a good player in the league. He never caught up the whole year. He never caught up and it was unfortunate for him on that. We'll see how it goes, but Malcolm is a good kid and when he gets here we'll get ready to coach him."

How do you see these guys grasping your aggressive philosophy?

"Excellent. 99% of athletes want coaches to let them be aggressive. There's always the excuse, ‘I wish Coach would let me attack more; I wish Coach would let me run more; I wish Coach would let me be nastier,' and all that. That won't be an excuse here. You can think about it like basketball and all those teams that like to run and gun up and down the floor. That's kind of the thing we do defensively here. We have to be able to run; we have to be able to attack; we have to be able to apply pressure all the time. And it's not only in blitzing and that kind of stuff; it's being able to apply pressure when you're not blitzing. We have to do a better job of winning one-on-one blocks and attacking one-on-one blocks and running real fast. We're going to play a lot of people and they have picked it up pretty good right now but we have a long ways to go."