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Canal Street Chronicles: Fleur-de-Links 9.10.09


jeffduncantp Pierre Thomas & S.Payton are trying to sell us that Thomas will practice Thurs & potentially play on Sun. Call me skeptical. Not buyin' it.

jeffduncantp And while you're at, call me skeptical about the Thomas 'dog chase' story, as well.

ChaseDaniel Just signed my first lease on a condo...not too shabby, it sure is good to be a Saint down this way...Who Dat!

Pierre_Thomas TO ALL MY FANS: I was not chasing my dog or dogs when I cut my knee. My dog was stuck in my neighbors yard and I heard him yelping...

Pierre_Thomas went to help, his leash was all tangled and when I squeezed through the gate I cut my knee on a piece of the fence. It is nothing serious..

Pierre_Thomas ...just a few stitches which will not keep me from playing.

Pierre_Thomas I am peparing for the Lions on Sunday and waiting for the thumbs up from the Saints. Who Dat ready to ROCK THE DOME!!


Deal done to keep the Saints in the Dome - WWL

"We're finalizing a major, major enterprise for our city," Superdome Commission Chairman Ron Foreman said. "We're keeping professional sports, profession football in this town for a long time."

-Ron Foreman


 Detroit Lions have clean slate under Coach Jim Schwartz - Times-Pic

Detroit Lions can expect a healthy dose of New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush - Times-Pic

New Orleans Saints notebook for Sept. 9 - Times-Pic

Video: 4th Down Interactive: Get excited about Saints D - WWL

Jim Schwartz hopes Lions catch Saints' offense by surprise - The Detroit News

Record-setting, undersized QB plans to learn from Brees - WWLTV

"I’ve looked up to Brees since his playing days in high school, growing up in Texas," Daniel said. "High school football there is awesome. It’s a great feeling."

-Chase Daniel

"I told Drew, ‘You’re going to get sick of me before this season is over. I’m going to be in your hip pocket, whether it be in meeting rooms or anything,’ "

-Chase Daniel

"They don’t take height very seriously here at quarterback," Daniel said. "That’s a good thing for me. I’m just going to try to learn this offense the best I can."

-Chase Daniel

"I’m going to do everything I can to get my habits back together, get in the flow of things, get in a rhythm and hopefully things will go right,"

-Chase Daniel


Saints tackle Bushrod eager for his first regular-season start - Sun Herald

"Drew gets rid of that ball so it’s easier in some ways," Bushrod said. "In some ways it’s not. It’s more pressure, but you can’t think about that when you’re out there."

-Jermon Bushrod


New Orleans Saints defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant are taking it one game at a time - Times-Pic

"I'm real happy,'

-Charles Grant

"Fair is fair, that's all I can say.

"At least it's good for now. If they suspend us after this game, that it is.''

-Charles Grant

"We'll just have to play it by ear and hope for the best. We're going forward as if we're going to be playing in every single game. That's the way we're going to do things.''

-Will Smith




Jeff Duncan's New Orleans Saints video log (Sept. 9, 2009)
New Orleans Saints post practice video 090909
New Orleans Saints defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant talk about suspensions/non-suspensions




Here are some WWL Sports Talk audio clips, including Drew Brees



Sean Payton Press Conference Transcript

From the New Orleans Saints official website

Opening Statement:

"Here's what we have with today's injury report: Jammal Brown with his sports hernia did not practice, Pierre Thomas (right knee) did not practice, Darnell Dinkins (left foot) did not practice, and then Usama Young with the right shoulder was full. Those four players are on the injury report. Today was another day spent on base and some nickel and tomorrow we'll move to the next phase of the installation."

How did Pierre Thomas' laceration happen?

"Over the weekend, he was chasing his dog in his backyard, had to climb a fence and he caught a portion of his right knee and he has six stitches. That's really not the issue with him. We're still working with his knee. We'll see where he's at tomorrow; I'm optimistic that we're going to get him some work tomorrow. That's the plan right now."

Is a scope a possibility with him?

"No. This is normal protocol with the injury that he has."

Will Jermon Bushrod start?

"Right now we're not listing any starters. It's Wednesday and at the appropriate time we'll go through the starting lineup and we normally list out, questionable, probable at the end of the week."

Would you feel comfortable starting him?

"I think he has had a good camp. Beginning in Houston the week we practiced with the Texans and then starting in that game, he has gotten a lot of snaps and has done a good job. He's working with the first group at left tackle and he has handled the transition well. He's doing a real good job."

Was Doug Marrone the one that pushed for him?

"We've had a few small college linemen that have gone on and had success, obviously with Jahri Evans. We had some background, both in the scouting department and from a coaching standpoint with Towson - where he's from. Our scouts did a great job of locating a guy like they did with Jahri a few years ago. When you look at his development, each year it has gotten incrementally better. A guy like him can kind of go unnoticed when everyone is healthy and then all of a sudden he's playing and you begin to see him against Mario Williams or better competition and he has handled that transition pretty well."

How do you match up with a receiver like Calvin Johnson?

"He's definitely a big receiver. He's a guy that you have to be mindful of on every snap. He has size; he has great speed and hands. If you just look back through the history of the draft as he came out he was unique with his skill-set and he has taken that to our level and still showed that same rare ability to make plays down the field as well as underneath coverage."

What is your comfort level with Mike Bell getting a lot of carries?

"He has handled his workload well. We'll have a pretty good plan on how we want to work these running backs. We'll see where Pierre is at tomorrow; but (Mike) has handled the workload real well. He has a good comfort level with what we're doing."

What changes other than the quarterback do you see in this Lions team?

"If you just take a look at the roster from last year's to this year's is different - which is somewhat typical when you have a new staff and a new program. Jim (Schwartz) has done a good job of transitioning the roster to suit what he's looking for and what their club is looking for. There are a lot of new people in place. (Larry) Foote, the linebacker, comes over from Pittsburgh. You can go on and on with different players that are there and will be playing this weekend that weren't there and weren't a part of last year's team. It's similar to '06 when we transitioned here."

How good is it to know the situation with Will Smith and Charles Grant?

"Really at the end of the day last night was when we officially found out that we were going to play with these guys this weekend. As I said to you Monday, each week we prepare as if they're playing and we stay and communicate with the league and make sure we're doing all the right things as it pertains to those two players. Our focus point now is knowing that they're going to play in this game."

What jumps out and impresses you about Matthew Stafford?

"He's big, he has a strong arm; he has been a winner wherever he has been. I was in Dallas when he was coming out of high school and I recall the success he had there and certainly he won at Georgia and competed at a high level. He has a very good arm; he has the poise and the moxy that you look for at that position, and at the end, that was the reason he was the number one pick."

This Sunday will be the first time you've had a healthy Reggie Bush since last October. Has he almost become an underrated part of your offense?

"He has been very much involved in training camp, we just held back on a couple of these preseason games to make sure he was 100 percent. Our packages and the plan for him we have been able to rep a lot and work a lot and he'll be ready to go this weekend."

Do you anticipate he'll be able to match the level of play he had reached last season before his injury?

"Certainly he would expect that same level and we would too and even improvement on the things he can do better."

Do you try to be even more disruptive going against a rookie quarterback making his first start?

"I think you approach it with your same gameplan defensively that you normally would. I think the myth is that you just pressure the rookie quarterback. When you do that, you have to be mindful of where Calvin Johnson is at and these other guys that can hurt you. We'll have a good plan in place, both in the base and the nickel and the other areas of the game to keep mixing things up and give him different looks."

Have you decided yet on who will be returning kickoffs for you?

"We haven't yet. I expect Reggie to get punts and Lance will be ready as well."

Did they run a fake punt in their last preseason game?

"I believe they did. A lot of times in the preseason teams want to get that on film. Against Oakland we had three called but we didn't get the look to keep it on. You have to make sure - today was a day where we took 10 minutes to work through some special situations that come in games and to review those things."

Do you think that's something they might have done just to slow you down in your return game?

"That's a good question. You have to be gap-sound and you have to understand the dynamics of when you double the gunners or when you single the gunners. Oftentimes the fake punts are called off when the gunners are singled because that's not the look they were designed for and when the gunners are doubled, maybe they're left on. Nonetheless, we'll make sure that we're ready - not just in the punt situation - onside kicks, fake field goals, all those things."

How frustrating has the situation with Charles and Will been?

"It has been pretty clear. The league has kept us up to speed. Monday we knew that we just had to get through Tuesday and then it was full speed ahead."

Does it matter at all that you have team leaders here that remember your turnaround in 2006 when getting ready to play a team looking to make a similar turnaround?

"With this year's '09 team we have leadership that has been in place and we have leadership that hasn't been. We lean heavily on both of those groups and both of those sets of players. It is a new team - it's a different team. There are still a number of people that were a part of that season, and yet I think everyone recognizes that that was a long time ago and the focus is really '09."



Lions Coach Jim Schwartz Conference Call


Q: Gregg Williams has been talking all about you preseason saying he is not showing much defensively because you are watching the Saints like a hawk. How far back do you guys go?

A: Gregg and I (go back to) 1999 in Tennessee. I had just moved from Baltimore and spent about ten years of being in the right place at the wrong time, the wrong place at the right time and the wrong place at the wrong time and I got to Tennessee as Gregg's quality control coach in 1999 and we went on a Super Bowl run and I was in the right place at the right time.

Q: Are there any anecdotal stories about Gregg that you want to relay to us?

A: You guys got to know Gregg a little bit. There's not too much you can print in the newspaper.

Q: What do you expect from Gregg's defense with him being a first-year coordinator in New Orleans?

A: He has a track record of proven success in the NFL. His defenses are always hard-nosed and aggressive and they've always been a challenge for the opposing quarterback. That's always where he starts the game plan. We expect nothing less from him this week.

Q: H as Williams shown much in the preseason defensively from the tape you have watched?

A: Pretty vanilla. Just about everybody in the NFL's going to do the same thing. When you have a new coordinator or a coordinator coming to a team for the first time, there's uncertainty. Is it going to be the same as when you looked at Jacksonville last year? Is it going to look like what he did with the Redskins? Should we go back to Buffalo? Should we go back to Tennessee? It makes for a little uncertainty. We have the same dynamic here with Scott Linehan our offensive coordinator. Where do you go to see exactly what our offense is going to look like? Do you go to Miami? Do you go to St. Louis? Do you go back to Minnesota? Anything that you can do to keep that uncertainty alive and hold those cards close to your vest is beneficial for you.

Q: What kind of situation did you inherit in Detroit?

A: In the NFL, there's an old adage that it stands for not for long and that's not for long whether you're a good team or a bad team. The best thing about the NFL is that you're given tools that you can make changes, the way the salary cap works and the way the draft works, you can make a change. We had good cap room here. We had a lot of draft picks. We turned over more than half our roster. That's important to be able to do that. I look at a lot of positives here. We had cap room. We had the picks. Players know that you can turn things around. It's been proven and done before in the NFL. We have a great fan base. We have a great place to play. We have a great facility. We have a great owner. There were a lot of attractive things about this job.

Q: When you have all those things, is this a situation where you can't possibly be a 0-16 team again?

A: I don't even think about that. We didn't even address 0-16 from last year. We have too much other stuff to worry about to address what happened last year. When you turn a team around and I've said this since I've hit the ground down here, the objective isn't to turn the team around and I've compared it to losing weight. If your objective is to lose weight, there's a lot of ways to do it. You can do to a weekend spa, drink cayenne pepper water and eat lemons and wrap yourself in cellophane and you can drop ten pounds in a weekend. But we all know what happens, that weight comes back, so you have to change your goal. Rather than the goal being to lose weight, your goal has to be to get on the treadmill every day and eat a little bit better than you did yesterday and if you do that over the course of time you will look back and have lost weight. The same thing applies to turning the team around. If your goal is to turn it around, maybe you're looking at the wrong thing. Your goal has got be to improve every single day. Every day go out and be a little better today than you were yesterday. If you keep your eyes on that, you will look back and execute the change.

Q: What do you think of Reggie Bush from a coach's perspective?

A: From a coach getting ready to play him, he's a dynamic player, a player you need to know where he is on the field at all times. He's a multidimensional player. He can return kicks. He can return punts. They can use him as a wide receiver. They can use him as a running back. He can score anytime he touches the ball. I can't speak for his ability to hold up over the course of a season. All I need to worry about is one game and that game gives you enough nightmares when there's a player like Reggie Bush.

Q: Do you wonder about him since he didn't play much in the preseason?

A: No. People, particularly ballcarriers and people like that; you don't want your ball carriers taking a lot of hits in the offseason. LaDainian Tomlinson has done that quite a bit in the preseason. There have been a lot of other backs and people like that who have done that. I don't think you can read anything into that.

Q: With Matt Stafford being a rookie how quickly and comfortably has he grasped the things you've wanted out of the playbook?

A: That was not a surprise, but I guess it was a little bit of a surprise. We knew Matt was smart. We knew he had good command over what they did at Georgia on offense and defense. We spent a great deal of time interviewing him, not just at the combine, not just at Georgia, but up here. That's important. Anybody can look at tape of Matt and say he's got a rifle for an arm. He has a quick relies. That's obvious to anybody. It's the intangibles that were more important or as important. His ability to lead, grasp, his ability to pick things up quickly. We saw all positives there, but from the time we first got him at his first rookie minicamp, his retention, not just his ability to know what our offense was doing, but his ability to decipher defenses was very, very impressive from the time he started here.

Q: If the average person looks at the preseason numbers they would ask why wouldn't you play the veteran and your response was that this isn't an internship. Can you break the horse's spirit too early here if you throw him into the fire and things don't go the way you want him to?

A: If we didn't think he was ready, we wouldn't have subjected him to that. He has thick skin. He's been a quarterback all his life. When he was in seventh grade, he was told he was going to be the starter in high school when he was a sophomore, get ready. That's not even a consideration with him. Don't look at his numbers. When we judged him as a quarterback, we judged him on his body of work, not just the preseason games. Some of those games you might throw only 11 passes. There were passes that were called back with offensive holding penalties. He had maybe a half a dozen drops that receivers should have caught balls, receivers that did not make our 53-man roster. That may have made those stats look totally different. What he did as a quarterback is he made good decisions and put the ball where he was supposed to. Did he make some mistakes? Yes. But, he made a lot of plays for us, particularly with Calvin Johnson.

Q: Are you doing anything to prepare for what should be a noisy Superdome on Sunday?

A: Yes, it's going to be a wild crowd. It's going to bring out the best in both teams. There's nothing like going into the lion's den so to speak. If that doesn't get your juices flowing as a visiting team, nothing will. We expect a loud crowd. We're going to be ready for it. We're not a typical team that's going to use crowd noise during practice and things like that, but we'll have a good plan for how to deal with it and we'll have to make sure we don't get very many penalties because of the crowd noise.

Q: What's the one thing you're probably most excited about in your team coming into the regular season?

A: Just meshing all the new faces. Like I said, we turned over half of our roster (31 players). We have one defensive back from last year's team make our team this year. There's been a tremendous amount of turnover. We also have some keepers here. We didn't want to throw the baby for the bath water so to speak. It's going to be exciting to mesh all those new players, some young players, rookies, some veterans. We're not a young football team. We're young in some areas, but we also have a decent amount of veterans that we've brought in to be able to get us up to speed right away. We don't look at this thing as a rebuilding project. We never put a timetable on...Hey it's going to take us two years, three years. We're going to do everything we can to win every Sunday and that's what we're thinking with every decision we make.

Q: Did you talk with your team about turnarounds other teams have made such as the Saints in 2006?

A: No, the players know about the turnaround that Sean (Payton) did with the Saints when he got there. They know about what happened in Atlanta. They know what happened in Baltimore and Miami last year. They're not stupid. They watch the NFL. Our focus has been on us and what's important to us. I didn't address 0-16 with the team. We didn't address what other teams are doing and have done. We've just tried to keep our focus on what we're doing and to try to get a little better everyday. We have enough to worry about without going into those, but the players know it.

Q: What do you see in the Saints since experts seem to have them all over the map in terms of where they will finish in the NFC South?

A: I don't know where they'll finish. I'm not a very good handicapper, but I know they have good players. That's a high powered offense. I believe they were number one in the league in points scored, as a passing offense and total yardage. It's one thing to be number one in total yardage, but if you don't score it doesn't make a difference. But they average close to 30 points a game last year. I think they had five receivers that had more than 45 receptions, so obviously the quarterback moves the ball around. They have a good scheme. They have a lot of dynamic players at different positions. That speaks for itself. They've done a good job of keeping that good core together. There hasn't been a lot of turnover from one year to the next. Even defensively, the biggest addition we talked about Gregg Williams coming in. They drafted a defensive back in the first round and brought in Darren Sharper, but there are not a whole lot of new faces there. They have a little different scheme. I'll leave predictions up to the prognosticators and people like that. That's a talented football team, not just on offense, but on defense and when you have a quarterback like Drew Brees, you're going to score points like that and be in every game.



Drew Brees Press Conference Transcript


Q: Can you talk about how you feel about this first game?

A: We're all excited. It's been a good and tough camp, very competitive, but that's what you pay the price for to have the chance to go out there on Sundays during the regular season and play for keeps and play when it counts. This is what we're waiting for.

Q: Can you discuss how Detroit is a different team than last year?

A: They got very much a makeover on defense, a lot of new personnel; a lot of veteran guys, the two corners are veteran guys, the linebackers. It's a team that kind of made those changes and they're playing well together right now. Obviously you play that first game and you have to expect anything and everything. We have a good game plan going in. It should be a good battle.

Q: Will you bring up to the team how the Saints had a big turnaround in 2006 from tough times?

A: Yes, we definitely all understand it. I guess heading into last year's game obviously these guys had nothing to lose. They were going to be turning it loose and playing loose, but this year, obviously it's a new season and new expectations for everybody. I feel like they have a new team and much better team than they had last year and I'd say they do. You look at the changes they've made. They have a new head coach. You come in and create a new attitude and culture. They seem to be playing with that.

Q: Do you think the fact that you have a veteran team saves you from a letdown?

A: The fact is this is the first game of the season, so everybody's up, everybody's hyped. There won't be any letdown. Obviously the fact that it is the first game, every team is trying to find, somewhat of that identity for themselves and of the season and that sort of thing. Everybody's in that boat right now.

Q: Do you see ways for you to be more productive this year?

A: The fact is at 8-8 there's plenty of room for improvement. We need to win more games. Something we've talked about all offseason is finishing strong and really knowing the situation, always playing to the situation, because you look at all of our losses last year, whether it's a point here, a point here, a play here, a play there. One week it might have been short yardage. The other week it might have been two minute offense, the next week it might have been two minute defense, so knowing the situation, understanding what's at stake, developing a sense of confidence because you've put yourself in that situation so many times throughout the offseason in your mind and on the practice field that when you step into that situation again, you know you're going to make the play that's going to get us the victory.

Q: How tough is a quarterback's first regular season start, especially for a rookie?

A: It's different obviously. It's something you get pretty jacked up for, kind of living the dream. I think that he's (Matthew Stafford) a very talented guy or else he wouldn't have been chosen number one. The story is still to be written about Matthew Stafford, but the fact is that it's his first regular season start, I'm sure he's preparing as best as he can.

Q: Since Jim Schwartz and Gregg Williams have worked together do you expect a Lions defense similar to the one you practice against?

A: Yes, maybe so. The thing about the first game is the only thing you have to really look at is preseason film. You might be able to track the coach back to his roots, where he came from, lineage, but you're not 100 percent sure what he's been working on in the offseason and preseason, because a lot of times, coaches hold things back. You figure in that first game, you could see just about anything.

Q: Are you sick of Chase Daniel yet?

A: No, Chase has been great. In a lot of ways he kind of reminds me of myself, being the fact that he's a Texas kid, won a state championship in high school, wasn't really highly recruited, had to go out of state to Missouri, turned the program around that hadn't really been all that successful in previous years. They did some great things there and he did some great things, yet still you look at his size and his stature and you say a 5-11 quarterback or whatever he is can't play in this league, but I think the guy's talented. Obviously you look at his past history as the starter; everywhere he's been he's won. You can talk all you want about physical attributes, but the quarterback position's played up here and I've only know him a couple days, but I think the similarities are there.

Q: What do you remember from your first start and how nervous are you?

A: Nervous, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was at Cincinnati in 2002 from it being 34-3, obviously I hope that's not his first start, but yes, just like anytime you do something for the first time, and it's your first opportunity. Of course you're going to have the butterflies, but I think the quarterback position, obviously you understand there's a lot on your shoulders and you just try to go out there.

Q: How nice is it for you have all of your receiving weapons except for Billy Miller finally healthy?

A: It's big. Plus the fact, (Jeremy) Shockey in particular, we've had a lot of time to spend together. Now we're trying to get Dave Thomas up to speed. It was kind of a similar situation to what Shockey was in a year ago, throwing a bunch at him and seeing what kind of role he can play on offense. Obviously with Lance (Moore) being healthy and around, that's great to see. I'm expecting big things from him, as well as really all the guys. I think everybody's kind of slid into a role that they're all comfortable in, utilizing everybody's strengths. It allows us to do a lot offensively.

Q: Are you a little worried that Jammal Brown and Pierre Thomas might not be available and that Reggie Bush hasn't played much in the preseason?

A: I'm not worried one bit. I'm really not. We'll find a way. No matter who's down or who steps in. No matter who's down, we're very confident the guy who steps in can do the job. They've been groomed to do that. That's probably when you find your next stars, when they get that opportunity to get some significant playing time. I think we have so much confidence as an offense. You plug somebody in and you make it work. We're going to encourage you the whole way, be positive with you and make sure we're working to your strengths.

Q: Watching offensive film, how would you evaluate how Jermon Bushrod has played?

A: I just told him give me that lookout call if I need to move a little bit. He's been awesome. I have all the confidence in the world in Bushrod. This is that opportunity for him. This is that defining moment in regards to getting that first opportunity to start in the NFL. I think he's made great strides from his rookie year until now. He hasn't really gotten any significant playing time or the chance to start. I'm really confident in what he's going to be able to do. I think he prepares very well. I think he's talented, but he works hard and has a great group around him. I think that's a big thing. What I've told him is play your butt off. You're going to get beat time to time. It's my job to get rid of it.

Q: If you go back as you prepare for the season opener, do you feel differently than a year ago?

A: I always feel comfortable going into the first game. Last year, I think just the thought that maybe a little bit of anxiety or concern with not having gotten a lot of time with (Jeremy) Shockey. He might get some significant playing time. What are the routes? What are the things we haven't gotten a whole lot of work on? Really we went into that game just kind of winging it a little bit with him, but catching six balls and playing really well. I thought timing was there, feel was there, all those things. That was the only difference, maybe a few question marks in that regard last year whereas this year, I can't think of any question marks we have.

Q: Do you feel better about the team as a whole this year?

A: Sure I absolutely feel better about the whole team. I think it's the best team we've had since I've been here.

Q: Are you worried that Reggie Bush hasn't played much in the preseason?

A: I feel like I know what I'm getting, but then again, it is a new year and he's one year more experienced and all those things. I expect him like any young player to get a little bit better every year. I think without putting too much pressure on him or anything else, I'm never going to do that to a guy. I know where his mindset has been at this offseason in regards to his preparation and everything else. I think he'll improve one game to the next and one season to the next.

Q: Do you look at last year's film of Detroit after all the changes to their coaching staff and roster?

A: No. Personnel are so different. If personnel was similar you'd want to say you'd want to see how their guys played our guys, but you can't even do that. Philip Buchanon is a guy we played against in Tampa and Anthony Henry from Dallas, so we're familiar with those guys from playing on different teams with different defenses. Obviously everybody teaches everything different. The linebacker corps, getting (Larry) Foote from Pittsburgh and Julian Peterson from Seattle. They've gone out and gotten some guys. No, really you try to look at everything but understand that you could get anything. You're looking at the type of defense you're playing; you're looking at the personnel. You're looking at all those things. You have to expect the unexpected.

Q: Did Buchanon have an interception against you?

A: He has two. I remember that. He had two. One in each hand.

Q: How do you try to get a feel for a Jim Schwartz defense?

A: It's a little bit of everything. I'll continue to try to say you expect a little bit of anything and everything. You expect the unexpected. First game, you know they're holding stuff back. Every team does from the preseason stuff, so you watch the preseason games. You watch maybe games on the d coordinator. You watch games on the defensive head coach like it is. You watch maybe a little of last year's game. The fact is, it could be anything.

Q: Did you go back and look at Schwartz's Tennessee film?

A: I can tell you we are looking at everything.

Q: Are you talking to Gregg Williams about him?

A: I'm talking to everybody that knows the guy and might know tendencies.