Here we go again! Gosh, I love not having to go through the New Orleans Saints organization or media for information this week.
More pictures from the AP are in as well so click the one to your left to view them all.
I'll be updating these as they come in...
(opening statement) "We just finished up the morning meetings, and we practice this afternoon. It's a little bit different schedule-wise, and the transition has gone pretty well logistically."
(on why Joe Lombardi is the Saints' quarterbacks coach) "When Doug Marrone left last year to become the head coach at Syracuse, Pete Carmichael was promoted to the (offensive) coordinator's position. Joe, who had worked as the quality control coach, was promoted. So Pete, on a daily basis, is the coordinator, and Joe and he work with Drew (Brees). I've said this before. I have a good support staff and a good group of coaches. We always try to look from within when it comes to a promotion."
(on coaching Drew Brees) "When it comes to coaching a guy like Drew Brees, there are a lot of unique traits and characteristics that make it a good relationship. He's driven, his expectation levels of himself, he has great work ethic and he's talented - all of those things."
(on how motion is a big part of the Saints' offense) "There are certain plays that are more motion-friendly. Sometimes, it allows the receiver a better release than if he was stationary. In other words, the guy in charge of re-routing him, when he has to move as well, may not be able to get his hands on him as cleanly. Other times, it may be just simply to get leverage on the defense, to get to a landmark maybe a little more effectively than a tight split. Sometimes when you are playing with a lot of crowd noise, you line up in some nasty or tight splits without motion because you are worried about the silent counts. There are a lot of reasons for it. Hopefully when we do something like that, there is a reason we are doing it other than just to do it. The timing of it, the motion landmarks and the snap count - all of those things factor in."
(on his time at San Diego State) "I was playing over in London in 1987, and I knew that I wanted to get into coaching. The route in college is to become a graduate assistant, and that's very common. And yet, it's challenging to find one of those graduate assistantships. Steve Devine was at San Diego State, and he was the offensive line coach and the coach in charge of hiring the GAs. Through several conversations overseas, and eventually a letter, I was hired over the phone. Shortly thereafter, I made my way back to Chicago - Naperville was home - and packed the car up and drove to San Diego. The car broke down somewhere in Colorado, and I arrived there three days later. Steve was someone who was extremely instrumental in getting me started, and I stayed with his family for three or four weeks just trying to get a break. Usually for all of us, no matter what career you're in, there is always someone responsible for helping, and certainly he played a big role in the beginning of my development."
(on Reggie Bush's learning curve) "A player like Reggie, like a lot of young players coming out as juniors, they are younger in their development. Since he's been here in 2006, he is a big part of what we've done. In 2007 and 2008, he had to battle through some injuries, but he's been a big part of our success offensively. Whether it's in the passing game or the running game, clearly players that come to you as juniors and early-outs have that much more growth potential just in regards to the logistics of the game. You see a guy like Robert Meachem who came out early. But each year, Reggie's developed his overall understanding of what we are doing has been increased. He's been in the same system. He gives us a dimension in the running game or in the passing game - it might be misdirection that's unique. It began in 2006, and it's continued to date. He's been a big part of why we've been successful offensively."
(on if he has reached out to other Super Bowl coaches in preparation for this week) "I talked to a few guys, guys who are close to me and some who are not as close to me, and they have been very helpful. As teachers we are always trying to cover as much as we can and gather as much information as you can in your preparation."
(on Garrett Hartley and how much John Carney has helped Hartley) "It's a good compliment having John (Carney) here. As we transition back where Garrett was kicking, he came to us a year ago at midseason. We had three or four kickers in for workouts, and he was clearly a step ahead of that group. We signed him, and he finished last season 13 for 13 as a rookie. He's kicked in big spots at Oklahoma, and he was at a large high school in Southlake, Texas. He's been in big games, state championships and national championships. John's presence and arrival knowing that we didn't have Garrett to start the season, has really helped Garrett's growth. John is one of those even-keel guys who doesn't speak a lot, but when he talks, he's saying something pretty important. That relationship has been a positive. John's done a great job and has a bright career if he wants to coach. The fit's been good, and I think you've seen Garrett get better and pay attention to the little things."
(on his process when he took the Saints' job) "It was after the 2005 season, and it was a little hectic because after the season there were two or three teams that I was going to interview with. I had gone to interview with Green Bay and had gone to New Orleans to interview. The time I spent with Mickey Loomis was important, and the interview was productive and went well. The time I spent in Green Bay with Ted (Thompson) and their organization really helped me with a first or second interview I had taken, and those guys do a great job up there. More than anything else, you really get a feel for people. There were concerns logistically about living there that close after (Hurricane) Katrina - those are concerns you have for your family, other players and coaches that you are bringing in and trying to hire and sign. We had just finished building a house back in Texas, and logistically there were a bunch of things that didn't make it the right time. There was enough in the two visits that I felt we had a chance to make a difference. There is a lot of work that goes into it, like surrounding yourself with the right people, and we've been able to do that, and Mickey has allowed me to do that. That relationship I have with him is critical. I don't take that very lightly. I take it very seriously because I don't think that exists throughout our league."
(on his staff members from Miami University in Ohio) "I had two real good years as coach there as a coach under the late Randy Walker, who went on to Northwestern, and we lost him a couple of years ago, which was a tragedy. Randy impacted a lot of us. When I got hired (by the Saints), I was able to hire Dan Dalrymple, our strength coach from Miami. Shortly thereafter, I was able to hire Aaron Kromer to come in a year ago. He coached running backs, and now he's coaching the offensive line and coordinating the run game. Charlie Byrd is another guy who is working with our strength and conditioning program. Usually when you have experiences at certain schools, you pay attention to coaches that you felt you would like to work with again someday. If you went through my staff, Curtis Johnson - we were together at San Diego State and he went to the University of Miami, where we hired him. Bret Ingalls and I were at San Diego State together. Greg McMahon and I were at Illinois together, Joe Vitt and I were at the (Philadelphia) Eagles together. When you have a background and you know exactly what you are getting, that's pretty valuable. I've got a great group, and they do a great job."
(on his relationship with the Dolphins' Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano) "I have a real good relationship with both Tony and Bill. Tony and I got hired within a week of each other in Dallas, and I spent a lot of evenings in late meetings with him. He is a tremendous coach. He is one of the guys I tried to hire right when I got named the head coach in New Orleans, and Bill is smarter than that. Both Tony and Bill are two guys who I would consider as close friends in this business, and both of them have done a great job here in Miami. Logistically it's provided me an opportunity to have a chance to say hello to them, which was nice. They've done a lot of good things here, and certainly we felt that they were one of the better teams we played during the regular season. You can see the turnaround quickly in the program, and that's not a surprise."
(on the difference in play on the Saints' offensive and defensive lines) "Offensively we started with the development of guys like (Jon) Stinchcomb at right tackle, and Jahri Evans, who we drafted a few years ago in a big draft for us, certainly has given us real good guard play. (Jonathan) Goodwin filled in for (Jeff) Faine when we lost him to free agency. Carl Nickswas a good pick for us in the fifth round. Jermon Bushrod stepped in with the injury to Jammal (Brown). That group has been together now. I like their size and their power, and it's a physical group that really works well together. Aaron (Kromer) has done a good job of developing what we are doing from a run and protection standpoint. It's a really close-knit group that's been together now for a couple of years, and have gotten these reps together, and Jermon's handled the transition well. Defensively to their credit, there have been some new faces in Anthony Hargrove as an offseason addition. Will Smith, Charles (Grant), before he was injured, now Bobby McCray. There have been a few new faces, and you look atSedrick Ellis, who's been healthy now. We rotate those guys through. Jeff Charleston gets snaps. It's an active front and I think Gregg (Williams), Bill Johnson and those guys do a great job in their preparation. You see the effort to the ball, and I think that is what you will see this Sunday when you look at both defenses. Both of them are extremely quick to the football, they run well, there is a lot of hustle, and that's a good sign of coaching."
(on Drew Brees' leadership and development into one of the league's top quarterbacks) "He has complete command of what we are doing. When you do it successfully, immediately you gain respect from your peer group. When you work like he works, it's hard not to try to keep up. That is one of his great traits. He brings the level of competition up amongst everyone, not just the offense, but defensively. Those are unique skill sets, and there is a lot that goes into that. Knowledge, talent, work ethic, all of those things that fall under leadership, and yet there are so many things that you can't take for granted. Each day, there is an example that's new to me. It's pretty special, and certainly I don't take it for granted. It's a big reason why we are sitting here right now."
(on his first Saints training camp in Jackson, Miss., in 2006) "We went there in our first year. Logistically, we wanted to get a couple of hours away from New Orleans. With everything that was going on, we felt it was good to get to a small college campus. I like those environments for training camp. Maybe I'm more of a traditionalist that way. I like the idea of a dorm key around your neck, and checking in for a few weeks. Obviously it's hot there. We wanted that camp to be tough, we wanted to evaluate everyone fairly, and we wanted it mentally and physically draining. We were fortunate with the weather there; the facilities were outstanding in regards to the space and meeting rooms. People were very accommodating, and the people of Jackson, Mississippi, were great to us. There is a unique bond there now with this team and that city that exists that maybe didn't exist prior to. It was very hospitable for us, and these things grow a little bit of legend - the training camp there. It was tough, and we played our preseason games away, and we played one of the games there in Jackson and one in Shreveport. We wanted it to be physical, we wanted it to set a tempo and a tone for what this program was going to be about. The three years we served there were productive."
(On RB Reggie Bush) "I don't think there's a player in the history of the NFL that came in with the expectations that Reggie Bush did. When you take what he did in college - aHeisman winner and all those things. For any young player, especially at the running back position, there's a learning curve, just like there is at the quarterback position or any other position coming into this league. I think that so many eyes were on him and there was so much hype surrounding him, that's a tough position to be in despite your athletic ability and all those things. There's that time period that it takes just to learn how to play the running back position at the NFL level, learn how to be a professional, learn how to prepare, learn how to take care of your body. Just learn all those things. And really football has now become a full-time job, whereas before I played football because I loved it in high school and college but really I'm a student. Now it's your job, so you take it to the next level. I feel like he's had great people around him early in his career like Deuce McAllister, the coaching staff and guys that have really tried to take him under their wing and help develop him a little bit. I feel like he has done a good job of that. He has battled some injuries here over the last four years at times. Maybe [he has] been a little disappointed at times just with kind of the role that he played, but I feel like he has really accepted that now and you see what he is able to do for us, not only running the football from the backfield, but when he's catching the ball out of the backfield, when he's split out catching passes, when he's returning punts. He's a very versatile player that can do a lot of things."
(On Quarterbacks Coach Joe Lombardi) "Joe has been great for me. Joe was one of our offensive assistants for the first two years in New Orleans and then became my quarterback coach this year. What Joe really brings is I think our dynamics are great within the quarterback room when you talk about the other quarterbacks, Pete Carmichael - our offensive coordinator - and Joe Lombardi. I think from an Xs and Os standpoint, both he and Pete Carmichael are remarkable. I think just our interaction and our way to kind of read each other, especially on game day. Joe Lombardi, he sits up in the box, but his ability to kind of decipher what's happening and really relay that information down to Pete and then to me I think is really vital for what we're trying to accomplish on the field on game day. Make adjustments and kind of identify what's happening. Really Joe has stepped in and done a great job at quarterback coach, and I'm glad to have him."
(On his leadership role with the NFLPA) "I think like any young player you get in this league and it takes you a little while just to kind of understand what the Players Association is all about - the services that they provide for you and the history of the National Football League Players Association and what so many men before you have fought for in order for you to have. So I think as a young player you don't fully understand or appreciate that until you have the opportunity to go to those meetings or have executive committee members on your team or player representatives on your team that really convey that message to you. It wasn't until my fourth or fifth year that I became an alternate rep and then a rep and now I'm on the executive committee. I take that leadership position very seriously, especially when you look at what's looming here in the very near future, obviously us all trying to extend another collective bargaining agreement."
(On his relationship with Colts QB Peyton Manning) "I met Peyton when it was his first year in the NFL, after his first year with the Colts, so I guess I would've been going into my junior season at Purdue. We had actually met at a golf tournament, ended up playing golf together, and then after that he would call me occasionally during my season just to give me encouragement. I went up to Indianapolis and saw him play a Monday night game against Jacksonville. I remember the game like it was yesterday because he broke the franchise record for passing yards in a game, it was like 440 [yards], and then I went and saw them play the Titans in the playoffs one year. I had a chance to see him after the game, see him at different events here and there. One time, specifically, we came back and beat Ohio State my senior year, and sure enough I have a message on my phone from Peyton saying, ‘Hey, I had a chance to watch the game. I'm really happy for you. Way to battle.' For a young college player, here's Peyton Manning, second or third year in the league, already kind of coming into his own, Pro Bowl player, one of the best in the league, for him to kind of reach out to me like that meant a lot to me as a young player. Who would've thought 10 years from then we'd be sitting here playing in a Super Bowl against one another."
(On the development of Colts backup QB Curtis Painter) "I'm happy for Curtis. I obviously followed his career very closely at Purdue. I go back to Purdue at least once a year, and have a chance to see him as well as everybody within the football program. I've always been impressed with him, just the way that he has handled everything, both the ups and downs. I think he has fought through his fair share of adversity. Then to get an opportunity to come and play at the next level and be a backup to one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and of all time, really, I feel like that's great for him. I know he's had a chance to play a little bit this year, especially late in the season, and that's the only way you learn. That's the only way you get better, when you get those reps. Obviously you're not getting a whole lot of reps sitting behind Peyton Manning, but I've been happy for him."
(On watching his defense this postseason) "It has been fun to watch our defense. They are playing great, and it brings back memories from training camp. That was one of the most competitive offseasons and training camps that I've been a part of, just in regards to bringing in a guy like [Defensive Coordinator] Gregg Williams, who changes the attitude, changes the culture on that side of the ball, brings in his scheme and his style of play. Throughout the offseason and training camp, it was competitive. It was back and forth. So many periods, which normally would just be three-quarters speed or not full contact, all of a sudden turned into, ‘Hey, we're making this period live.' Just because both sides of the ball you want to win so bad, and he's trying to breed that attitude on defense, and we're trying to breed that attitude on offense, so we're just going at it. In the end, I thought that we made them much better and in turn they made us a heck of a lot better, too, as an offense. I feel like that has been a huge part of our success this season. You watch them take it up a notch here in the playoffs, and obviously create some great opportunities for us offensively. It has been fun to watch."
(On his feelings about the fleur-de-lis symbol) "The fleur-de-lis symbol dates back to the French monarchy. So much of New Orleans' culture comes from the time when we were under French rule. That's just a big part of the culture. It's a big part of what New Orleans is all about. So when you look at that symbol, it is the symbol of the city. It's just like when you look at the American flag when you sing the National Anthem and you stare at it, it makes you well up with pride a little bit. When we see the fleur-de-lis, it makes us well up with pride."
(On his memories of National Signing Day) "Being that Florida is a high school football mecca just like the state of Texas, I would like to encourage all Florida high school players to consider Purdue when looking for an institution of higher education and playing in the Big Ten conference and all those things. Obviously I have an affinity for Purdue, not only because I went there, but just because they were one of the few schools that gave me an opportunity coming out of high school. I wasn't that highly recruited. Really it was Purdue and Kentucky. Both of those coaches, Joe Tiller at Purdue and Hal Mumme at Kentucky, had just gotten the job in December of my senior year and were trying to throw together a recruiting class. I wasn't getting any calls at the time and they called me up, set up the official visit, and I chose Purdue because of the great education, playing in the Big Ten conference and having an opportunity to play in that spread offense. I know that high school recruiting continues to get taken to the next level as far as kids committing a year more in advance. Their ability to get game film out and everything else over the Internet - it has kind of been taken to the next level. But definitely consider Purdue, all you guys down here in Florida."
(On his relationship with backup QB Mark Brunell) "I'm very happy for Mark. He's been in this business a long time. We actually sat the other day as a team and [Head Coach] Sean Payton kind of went around the room and said, ‘How many guys have been to a Super Bowl?' Here's Mark Brunell having played 17 years and it's his first one. Coaches like [Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers] Joe Vitt on our staff, 31 years in this league, first Super Bowl. That's when you really realize how special it is. We've got guys on our team, plenty of them, rookies, second-year players, third-year players, and the minute you think that this comes around all the time, you're in for a rude awakening. It's hard to get to this game. It's extremely hard. A lot of things have to go your way. You really have to commit yourself. Mark has obviously had a great career as an NFL quarterback. One of the best. Three Pro Bowls, two AFC championship games - he's come close to this game. So to be able to give him that opportunity to be a part of this, the type of man he is, the type of father he is, he's just one of those guys that I really try to emulate a lot of what I do based on him."
(on trying to live up to the high expectations he entered the NFL with) "It hasn't been everything that I would have liked it to have been. I think in a perfect world I would have wanted everything to happen much quicker. I kind of imagined that I'd have a couple Super Bowl rings by now and a couple Pro Bowls. It's a tough league. This is a league of all stars. It hasn't been all bad because I'm enjoying it. I'm having a great time. We're in the Super Bowl right now and that's something that we should be proud of, being the first Saints team to make it to the Super Bowl. As far as my own personal goals, I know they'll come because I've always been a firm believer that hard work pays off. It's just taken a little longer than I expected."
(on the pressure of playing in the Super Bowl) "I think once you get into that, putting pressure on yourself, that's when you play your worst. I try to focus on making the most of every opportunity when I get a chance and not trying to seemingly put the team on my back and win the game. This is going to take a complete team effort to win this game and not just one player."
(on being humbled in his first few NFL seasons) "It's definitely been a humbling experience for me. Just on the road we've traveled so far and the hard work it's taken to get here, in a perfect world I would have imagined I'd already have a couple Super Bowl rings by now. That's just part of it. It's a hard league, but you appreciate it that much more. I appreciate it so much more now because I understand the workload it took to get here."
(on being healthy) "It's extremely satisfying to be injury free right now and just to be healthy. I'm excited and I couldn't be more happy with where I am physically right now. Going into this game, I can just let it loose and not have to worry about injuries or anything like that."
(on dealing with injuries in recent years) "It was tough dealing with injuries. Any time you're not on the field it's tough. It's hard to sit there and watch your teammates playing and you're not able to help them. You almost have the sense of maybe you're not giving the organization their money's worth or living up to your own expectations. That's just part of it. This is a tough game. It's a physical sport. All you can do is deal with it as it comes and try to bounce back as quickly as possible."
(on if he's a different kind of player than he thought he'd be) "I wouldn't say I'm a different player. I feel like I've always been myself. Definitely the thing that is different for me is it's been a humbling road just because of the injuries I had to battle and the last two seasons when we didn't make the playoffs. I wouldn't say I'm a different player. I would just say it's been more of a humbling experience and a learning process for me at the same time."
(on having to adjust to sharing the load) "I shared time in the backfield with LenDale (White) at USC. It's not something I'm not accustomed to. I'm used to it and we make it work. We have a lot of great players on our offense and I think Coach Payton does a great job of just spreading the ball around to everybody and not really allowing (defensive) coordinators or defenses to focus on one guy."
(on his first impressions of Marques Colston) "When he first came in I knew he was tall and was kind of raw. We all were a little raw. We still had Joe Horn and Donte (Stallworth). I just remember all the hype at the time. Everybody thought Donte and Joe were going to be the starters forever and Colston was one of those guys that just emerged from the shadows. He started playing great and the rest is history. He's a great player. He's overcome a lot, too."
(on his contract situation) "Anything is possible. That's kind of the mindset you have in this league. As for me, I would love nothing more than to be in New Orleans for the rest of my career. Obviously I don't have a crystal ball so we'll see what happens. As of right now, I just try to focus on what's important and that's winning the Super Bowl. After the season is over, me and my agent will get together and we'll talk about whatever we need to handle and we'll go from there. As of right now, I really just try to focus on what's most important: winning the Super Bowl and bringing that back home. We'll see what happens after that."
(on the Saints playoff run) "The biggest thing was us getting healthy in the playoffs. We had one common goal which was to win. We felt like on the defensive side that we wanted to hold our own. We wanted to get turnovers. We understand how our offense is and we feel like we can give them the ball back at any point in the game and it's going to be good for us, for points on the board, for running down the clock, time of possession."
(on playing the mental-chess game with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning) "You can try to play that chess game and go back and forth with Peyton. I don't know how long you want to do that. If it's working, stay with it. If it's not working, get out of it. You have some people around the league that say keep it simple, others say it's better to try to confuse him and go back and forth with him. I think whatever works."
(on trying to confuse Manning) "I don't think he gets confused. I know there may be times when he pats the ball and keeps patting the ball, going through the second read and third read. If we can do that and give our defensive line a tenth of a second to get after him and maybe get a hit on him, then that will be good for us."
(on whether he remembers National Signing Day for himself) "I was at Coral Gables Senior High in the head football coaches' office. My mom, dad and sister were there."
(on what is going on between Manning and himself at the line of scrimmage) "He is either making a check or making a dummy check. He may be doing a little bit of listening, trying to hear what I'm saying. It's about 50-50 with people telling me whether it's good or bad to play that game - people that have played against him, teammates, ex-teammates. I don't know if I want to go back and forth with him. We'll see how the game plays out."
(on whether he will get engaged in a one-on-one with Manning) "He wants to put his offense in the best position possible. To counter that, I want to put my defense in the best position possible. There may be a time where he is checking into something and I may know to check to something else. I may not have enough time. We'll see how it goes."
(on whether the play clock feels like a shot clock when facing Manning) "He is always going to win that battle (running the play clock to the last possible second) because he can take it down to five seconds and decide he wants to check into something. I don't have time to switch it back in those four seconds or less. I have to get everything I need out to the corners. He'll definitely win that battle if he takes the clock down that far."
(on the Saints' logo) "We've had a lot of fun with it on our shirts. You see it all around the local community. Any type of apparel that they can think of to put a fleur-de-lis on and make it black and gold will sell."
(on whether he feels the Saints way of playing defense is risky) "We don't feel it's risky at all. That's (taking chances) part of the game. That's how you win games, especially in the NFL. You have offenses, defenses - when you have players who are comparable on teams, the X-factor is going to be who turns the ball over. You want to give your offense an extra position or the next chance to score a touchdown and put points on the board for you. Any way we can give our offense extra opportunities to put points on the board for us is a plus."
(on whether there are plays designed specifically for attempting interceptions) "It's not just interceptions. You also have strips, force fumbles, sack fumbles. You jumble those things all into one and on any given play you have an opportunity to do any one of those things. Whether the quarterback is passing the ball, there is a chance for a sack or strip fumble. If the receiver catches it, there is a chance for a strip or fumble recovery. We are thinking that there are plenty of opportunities in that given play."
(On the mentality he brought to the Saints improvement with turnovers) "I think a play-making mentality, being able to attack the football, and finishing plays. A lot of things, and I always believe this, what separates an average defensive back from a good defensive back, is one that can finish the play and when they get the opportunity, make that play. When the ball is in the air or when they have the chance to make a tackle in the open field, just being able to finish the big play. On the defensive side of the football, I think it has been the biggest difference from previous years to this year and I hope I have been able to contribute to that."
(On how he teaches the younger players to create turnovers on the field) "Just to believe in what you see. Everyone studies a lot of tape, but when it comes to game time some people don't trust exactly what they see during that play or that route or that quarterback read starts to materialize, they second guess themselves. The main thing that I do is that I tell them to trust what they see and be able to attack the football. Then, when they get a chance to make a play, finish the play and make it."
(On if he thinks it is a risky way to play defense) "No, I don't think so at all. If you have the ability to see and you trust your instincts, more often than not you will make the play and you are going to be right. Many times after games, you always think back and say, ‘Man, I saw that coming, but I just didn't pull the trigger." When you pull the trigger, you will be right more often than wrong."
(On transitioning from Media Day to a football mentality)
"It is a welcome transition. Guys are looking forward to getting out on the practice field probably as much as that first day of training camp when we were ready to get out there and finally get into it. That is how we feel now and we are ready to get back, get into our regular regimen, work, the schedule that we are used to and put the pads back on. It will be good to get a little bit of a sweat and get back into regular football activities."
(On DT Remi Ayodele noticing 12 men in the huddle in the game against Minnesota and if he noticed it as well) "It was a changing point in the game and then the interception byTracy Porter. It was one of those drives in which you are like, "Can we get something to help us out?" Because it looked as though they were getting into position to finish the game off with a field goal and at that time you are just sort of praying that something will happen to help you. It just so happened that our prayer was answered by Minnesota having 12 guys on the field. It wasn't surprising to me because I have seen that happen before. Remi is a smart guy. He likes to look around and is very aware of everything. When you have a haircut like he has, you have to be aware of your surroundings."
(On what makes Colts QB Peyton Manning so good) "He is accurate, very intelligent, can make every throw in the book, has a strong enough arm to get the ball down the football field and has enough touch for short, intermediate passes. He knows how to work with his receivers. Whatever attribute you want to give to a quarterback, he has all of those. He is tough and has been in every game. He says he can't move too well, but really he doesn't have to because his arm is so good."
(On if he thinks his team plays dirty) "We don't know if we want to call ourselves dirty, but I think I said this before - it is like taking a shower when you get up in the morning and are going to cut your grass. You are nice and fresh when you cut the grass, but at the end you have a little griminess to you. We want to call ourselves a little grimy; not dirty all the way, but just maybe a little grimy. That is how we like to play."
(On how it feels to be playing in the Super Bowl) "It feels great. You kind of miss being under that Super Bowl spotlight because it is so tough to get there. My rookie year, I was definitely was not in the position that I am today, being one of the leaders on the team that is in the Super Bowl. I feel like this year I have the opportunity to kind of cherish those memories. My first year we lost and I want to make sure this trip is better than that one was. It was so long ago I forgot how that was. I want to make sure I remember this one.
(On Drew Brees' leadership) "Drew's been great all around. He's a leader on the field and off. He's been great for the community. He's a guy you want to go out and play hard for throughout the season. He works hard. One thing I notice about him is his work ethic. We feed off of that and do a lot of stuff after practice. When you pull up in the morning early, he's one of the first ones there. When you have a guy like that, it goes good with what you're trying to do and you feed off that. It's just great having him leading us on the field. He brings confidence and poise into the huddle and really controls everything out there when the offense is on the field. He's been great. Not a lot of guys can go through their career and say they've played with one of the great quarterbacks. I truly think he's one of the elite quarterbacks right now and will be a great one when all is said and done."
(On Brees making other guys better) "Exactly. I give him credit for making me better. There are many ways I can say why, but I know, for one, he's always had confidence in me. I've dropped passes I should have caught and he'll come back the next play and throw it right back at me. Anytime you have a guy like that, it says a lot. It speaks a lot."
(On what it will be like in Opelousas, LA on Sunday night) "It's going to be crazy, I already know. They support me. It's not only me that they love, but what we're doing as a team. They are truly diehard fans and aren't just there during the success. It's great having a support system like that. It's truly a blessing, for one thing. I know it's going to be crazy out there. They're going to party and they're going to do whatever it takes to make this Super Bowl experience one of the best."
(On if it feels good to represent Opelousas, LA) "It's great. There are great people in that area. They support anybody. When you're from that area, you have support no matter what. Anytime a guy from that area is doing anything positive, he's always supported by people from that area. To grow up in that area and to have those type of people, it makes you want to give that extra push to make those people proud."
(On the matchups he'll be facing) "For one, they have a good defense. They're a deep defensive line. They've been great at rushing the passer and getting off the field. When you watch film, it looks like (Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney are in fast forward because those guys get up the field so fast and get to the quarterback. (They have) tremendous speed. One thing about the defense is they move to the ball real quick and they swarm and create problems if you're not smart with your ball security as far as getting down and not trying too hard to get the extra yards."
(On the opportunity to make big plays) "Hopefully something opens up for me. When it comes to the big plays, I usually just go with the offense. Hopefully something opens up for me and I can take advantage of the opportunity. This is a great defense. They don't let many people get behind them. Hopefully, something happens. Not only me getting a big play, but we, as an offense, have several big plays."
(On if the game might become a shoot out) "I think it can be with the type of offenses we have. Much credit has to be given to the defense on both sides of the ball. They're doing a good job on defense. They obviously wouldn't be playing in the Super Bowl if their defense wasn't holding their end of the stick. I speak the same for ours. We created turnovers throughout the year and came up with big plays.
(on his time with LB Jonathan Vilma at the University of Miami) "He's a great guy. He's never been in any trouble, I've never been in any trouble. I just think that opposites attract. We came in together; we hit it off with each other. We'd always do one-on-ones with each other. He got hurt early when he came in, I think his knee, and I had a successful season that year. He came back and played very well the next year. His determination of playing at this level, and even in the college level, has been unparalleled to a lot of people that I've met. A lot of people have more talent than him, but you won't outwork him. A lot of people have more talent than myself, and it's hard to outwork both of us, because the University of Miamihas instilled in our brain, just work, work, work, work harder. They might beat you the first 10 times, but the next 100 times, you're going to win."
(on if it's true that he paid his way to the Super Bowl in Arizona) "Yes, that's true. I think having a broken leg just doesn't feel good, being 6-foot-5, off the ground on crutches, being 37,000 feet in the air with all the compression in the cabin. It was just a miscommunication. I didn't give them an answer if I was going to come or not, and at the last minute I (decided) it was a special thing, and I had a feeling (the Giants) were going to upset the Patriots. I even told columnists from the New York Post that the Giants were going to win. It was a painful experience getting on the plane and being at that height, but it was well worth it. Everyone made it out to be, ‘Jeremy was unhappy about his team winning, Jeremy was unhappy about the success his team had without him.' That's the complete opposite. I was very excited for my teammates, very excited. It was much deserved, and a great experience for them. It was a great experience for me, just sitting, watching them and enjoying my teammates' hard work and being the underdog and controlling that game."
(on his health now) "I'm doing good. The opportunity (to play here), I'm blessed to have."
(on the representation of the University of Miami in the Super Bowl) "(Jonathan Vilma) and I talk about the University of Miami all the time, from how many players we have in the League to Pro Bowlers that we've had in the past. Jonathan is deserving. He played outstanding seasons the last three years. He deserves it as much as anybody. He's a good guy. We talk about Miami more times than anything else."
(on if he expects Plaxico Burress will be able to play when he gets out of prison) "Yeah, that's something I would like to see. Plaxico's a great guy. He made a mistake like all of us do, and it's just... I don't think the governor was a Giants fan. Plaxico's a freak of nature. He can do whatever he'd like to. It would not shock me to see as soon as he gets out, someone pick him up, and really be a force like he was and won the game for the Giants."
(on what he sees his role in the game plan being) "Even if I had the answers for you, I would never tell you."
(on what he sees in QB Drew Brees after his time with Eli Manning) "I came in to New York, Eli (Manning) was the man, the rookie, thrown in there. Kurt Warner was our quarterback, if my mind serves me correctly, we were 4-2. And then Eli comes in and we lose a couple of games. Not that it was his fault or anything like that, we just didn't play well and didn't execute. But, having a polished quarterback as Drew Brees, being in the League a long time, it's a lot easier. With Eli, we all knew he was going to be a special player, it was just hard to do as a rookie in that position, to come in and to really make a huge impact. I'm glad to see him doing really well now. It's always a pleasure seeing him play and growing up as a player and really leading his team."
(on what makes Brees a special quarterback) "He really doesn't have any downside to him. He does everything the right way on and off the field. He's an exceptional player. He's playing at a very high level, and I think he's one of the best quarterbacks in this league. His statistics speak for themselves."
(On if he thinks Colts DE Dwight Freeney will play on Sunday) "We've got to prepare like he is going to play. We will see how that goes."
(On if he feels the importance of his job is overlooked) "With something like that, I really can't put too much thought into that. I can only control what I can control. I can't control peoples thoughts and if that is how people feel, that is how they feel. I just have to go out here and do whatever I can to do my job and continue to get better so I can help my team out. I can't really worry about other distractions that are going to take me away from my goal."
(On if he thinks the entire offensive line has been underestimated this season) "I don't think so. We try to do a solid job week in and week out. We hit adversity a couple of times this year. You just have to be able to bounce back and do what you do best."
(On if he ever thought he would be in the position he is in now before T Jammal Brown was injured) "No, because when he was up and healthy, I was thinking I was going to be the same role as the first two years. When he went down, I just tried to step in and contribute to the team's success and here we are today. This is something you kind of dream about, kind of visualize."
(On how he would grade his performance this season) "I felt like I have done okay. I hit a couple rough bumps here and there. I can't put a grade on how my performance has been, but I felt like I have done okay this year, but there are definitely a lot of things I need to work on and just try to continue to get better. The only grades I need to know is a ‘W' or an ‘L'. That is pretty much how I grade our team performance"
(On playing Division I-AA football in college to starting in the Super Bowl) "Just continuing to fight and doing whatever I can to contribute to this team, week in and week out. It just so happened I am still in this position and we have a chance to do something great."
(On why he wasn't recruited by a larger school) "I really don't know. In high school, I really didn't have that much exposure or anything like that didn't start until my senior year. Towson gave me the opportunity and I just tried to run with it and make the best of it. Towson, Richmond, and Middle Tennessee State were the only schools that really kind of showed interest in me from the I-AA level. At the end, I think they came through after National Signing Day. It is all history from there."
(on the challenges of the Colts' front seven) "As everybody has said, they're not the biggest guys up front, but they are fast. They get off blocks well. They play the edges well. They try to edge guys just to give them that extra edge. Their linebackers are going to come downhill, and they all rally to the ball."
(on if it changes anything if Colts DE Robert Mathis plays instead of Dwight Freeney) "Not at all, not at all. We're expecting Freeney to play. We're not changing our game plan or play calling or anything like that if he does or if he doesn't go."
(on if the Colts' run defense excites the Saints' offensive line) "Yeah, definitely. You want to have balance and you want to have a strong running game and a strong running attack, and that's our game plan for Sunday."
(on what Saints coach Sean Payton has been like this week) "He's been the same, actually. He's just trying to remind the guys about just staying focused and remembering that we're here to play a game on Sunday and not really fall all into the South Beach hype and stuff like that. Other than that, in the meetings, he's been the same. He's been very even-keeled, not too angry about all the time adjustments and all that stuff, falling behind schedule in some aspects. So he's been cool."
(on if Payton is a fiery guy) "Sometimes. He's a guy that gets his point across, whether it be through stories that previously happened to him or things that he hears. His objective is to get a point across, and that's what he does well."
(on Payton's schemes) "Very impressive, very impressive. It's very unique. I think as a coach, he has very good schemes and is very good at calling plays and is very aggressive in his calls."
(on winning the offensive line award) "It makes you feel good. It's a good award to have. It's an award that we share as a line, and it's great."
(on the chemistry on the offensive line) "Chemistry's a huge deal. We're a group that we just don't chill in practice and in the facility. It actually goes outside of practice and outside the facility. I think what makes us gel well together is just how good we are with each other outside of the field."
(on what the offensive line does together) "Just if we're at somebody's house or if I was getting something to eat, just being around each other. We hang out together - go to the mall together, chill out together, play video games together. We do it all."
(on the importance of establishing a running game) "I think it's very important. It's good to have balance. With a quarterback like (Drew) Brees back there, you're going to throw a lot and it's going to be times where you throw the ball pretty often, so to have a good run game, it creates balance and it keeps the defense honest.
(on Saints TE David Thomas) "He's another weapon out there. Drew (Brees) loves to spread the ball around, and he's one of the guys that he gives it to. He likes to throw to the tight end, and DT's a tight end."
(on the 2006 draft) "It was a good draft, and it really shows how good our scouting department - how good of a job they did and how good of a job they continue to do. And that was an important draft. A lot of guys wound up playing that first year."
(on if that draft class talked about being the team's foundation during training camp) "Not really. We were trying to battle that 110-degree heat. But yeah, we knew we had something special in that group, and it was a lot of guys just put together that whole year that's with this group, the team coming back to the city and things of that nature. But we knew we had a special group and it was going to be a good year for us."
(on the offensive line being a "bunch of misfits") "We had Jamaal Brown, who moved from right tackle to left tackle that year. We had Jamar Nesbit, who was a restricted free agent. We had Jeff Faine, who just came from the Browns, and then we had me coming from Division-II Bloomsburg after Jermane Mayberry went down. And then we had (Jon) Stinchcomb, who was just coming off of injury."
(on why the offense came together so fast) "One, Coach (Sean) Payton. Two, Drew Brees - Drew Brees and the weapons they put around him. We had (Marques) Colston, he's a good-handed, sure-handed receiver, and then you had Reggie (Bush), who didn't nobody know what to expect out of him coming out of college. You just knew that he was fast, so he drew a lot of attention from every defensive front that we saw. And just the schemes that Coach Payton puts together, I think they're very complicated if you look at it from the defensive side of the ball - who's getting the ball, and where these guys are lining up. So I think just putting all those aspects together, that's why we were so successful."
(on if, after the comeback victory at Miami this season, they felt like they'd be back in Miami for the Super Bowl) "Going to the Super Bowl was definitely our number one goal. During that game, coming back - it was kind of weird; we never really thought that we were going to lose that game, even though we were down by 23 or 24 points, something like that. And the way we came back, it was a real good team effort: special teams, defense and offense just putting the points up. Because the way we started that game, it was horrible. Going back and looking at it on film, nothing was going our way. A tipped ball here, interception to the house, a tipped ball there. It was just miserable. But always, coming back to Miami was our number one goal at the end of the year."
(on what he thought after that game) "I said, ‘We've got something special.' To come back from a game like that, it was actually I think the first game we were trailing. We were always on the up and up every game, always beating everybody and never down, and then that game we were down by 24 and came back to win."
(on what makes Saints QB Drew Brees great) "His work ethic, the time he puts in off the field, and I think his leadership. He has good leadership qualities. Another thing is, he trusts the guys that he's throwing the ball to. He puts the ball in some accurate spots, spots that I've never seen a quarterback throw the ball."
(on how to prepare for the Colts' offensive line) "If you can read something, a lot of times teams screen you, (and) do different things like that to try to slow your pass rush down. What I've learned playing six years in the league is that you've just got to be consistent. You've got to continue to be relentless in the rush and continue to go, go, go. You know they're going to do things early to try to slow you down, but you can't worry about that, because you know that's not really their game plan. Their game plan is something totally different, and they're trying to go down the field. They're going to have to eventually hold the ball, and eventually give us opportunities to go after the quarterback."
(on if the Saints watched film from the AFC Championship Game to see how the Jets got to Peyton Manning) "Yeah, definitely. We know they've got a really good offensive line. We know Peyton doesn't hold on to the ball all that long. We know it's going to be key for us up front, controlling the line of scrimmage and pushing back the linemen and getting in Manning's face, getting pressure on him."
(on the reports that the Saints are a dirty team) "I wouldn't say we're dirty. I'd just say we're a team that plays hard, and plays from whistle to whistle. Nobody's out there trying to hurt anybody. We're out there playing football. It's a physical game - people do get hit, people do get hurt in the process. We're just out there playing."
(on the defense's relationship with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams) "We love playing for him. We just love his intensity. We know he's fired up during games. We know he wants us to do well, wants us to run around and make a lot of plays. He wants us to have the big hits and get the sacks and all of that. That's what he talked about all year. As a football player, defensive football players want to be in a system like that. We enjoy playing in it."
(on if there are particular number goals that the defense tries to reach) "No, it's all about the situation. We have to be good on third down. We have to put them under pressure on third down, because I think they're No. 1 in the National Football League on third down efficiency. We know that's going to be key to winning the game. We know they pass the ball a lot, so when there are opportunities to get after them, force them to make a bad play, we've got to do that. We've got to bat down balls. We've got to stop the run also. It's not just all about stopping Manning, it's about stopping all those guys."
(on what stands out about the Colts' pass protection) "They're really smart, and they're an athletic bunch. Peyton does a good job of getting the ball off, and the offensive line will get in your way long enough so that you can't get to him. They work together with the quarterback."
(on his go-to pass rush move) "I would say my go-to move is more like an up-and-under move, just get them going up the field and go back underneath. It all depends on the offensive tackle, and also depends on the way they play. If it's a West Coast offense, sometimes you may not be able to do that. It'll be too slow, the ball will be out too fast. It depends on the style, and how you're going to incorporate it in the game. Most of the time you just use your speed to set them up on a basic guy, and then he'll just kick out wide, and you'll come up and under."
(on the way the Colts run the ball) "They're real good on their techniques. We just got finished watching a run highlight clip that they had. Those guys get in your way - Joseph Addaiand the other running backs, they have good vision to see where the opening is and pop it. Most teams that are playing them, they aren't really expecting the run. They're pass rushing up the field, so they're out of position, and that's when they strike you."
(on how many turnovers have been a result of pressure from the defensive line) "I think it's about 50-50. Some of the pressure, we're just pass rushing, some of us do blitzes. Some of the other turnovers are just pursuits of the ball, hitting a guy and making him fumble. Across the board, it's kind of even."
(on whether the past month has been tough for him) "Not at all. The toughest stretches I ever went through was in the past when we lost a couple of games we should have won. As of right now, I have put all of those things behind me and gotten the positives out of it. We're winning and we're in the biggest game of our career. It's the Super Bowl. There is really nothing that can overcome that. I'm on a positive side right now and to come out with a win will be even better."
(on his back) "I got it (back injury) the second week and haven't really been able to overcome it all season. I've just been fighting through it every game. It's my lower back. This is probably my first season that I haven't been healthy. Other than that, I probably jammed a wrist and taped it and we were good to go."
(on being judged my his sack total) "It's pretty annoying. This is by far my worst season as far as number-wise, but I have to look at it on the bright side. I have gotten a lot of hits on the quarterback. Not to mention, the reps are down this year because I have been a little nicked up. It's been a little down year, but at the same time it went to a little high point at the end of the season, especially with the playoffs. At the same time that little nagging injury is still there."
(on the evolution of the Saints from an 8-8 team to the Super Bowl) "Two things happened. We brought in Gregg Williams, who is a highly-talented defensive coordinator then we had a lot of key additions to the defense. The offense was there. They were solid. We just had to get some key additions to the defense. We brought in S Darren Sharper and S Roman Harper, a vet and a young guy. Next thing you know they both made it to the Pro Bowl. LB (Jonathan) Vilma and I were additions last year. We got CB Jabari Greer off of free agency too. There have been a lot of young guys that have stepped up like DT Remi Ayodele when (Kendrick) Clancy went down. There are a lot of key additions that stepped up this year and that made the formula perfect for this year."
(on whether he can be 10-sack a year player again) "I can always be that guy."
(on whether he expects his sack total to improve next season when he is healthy) "Yes. Once I get back healthy I will be the same as I probably used to be. It's been a down year for me. This nagging (injury), but I just look at the upside - we're in the Super Bowl. I'm going to go out here and try to play hard like I've been doing the last couple of weeks in the playoff games and end this year with a bang. I will be okay with that, not even worry about the numbers. I might have a Super Bowl ring. I'm not worried about the numbers. I helped my team get a ring."
(on how DE Paul Spicer has helped him this season) "He has kept me fresh in practice because he is coming in with fresh legs and his knowledge of the game. In practice he always tells me, ‘If the backs bothering you, I got you.' That's one thing he has really helped me as far as taking the reps of me in practice and getting in there a little bit. He has also been giving T (Jermon) Bushrod hell in practice. That has been getting him better for Sundays."
(On how this experience has been for him) "It has been great. I have been trying to soak it up without acting like a tourist, but I love it. My memory card is full."
(On what has been the most exciting part so far) "I would say yesterday during the Media Day. There was just a lot of stuff going on. It was just a great time."
(On what winning a Super Bowl would mean to the city of New Orleans) "I think it already means a lot, and for us to win, they might shut that town down for a week. No one is going to work for a good week after."
(On the Colts pass rush) "They've got a number of guys up front that rush the passer well, and they're probably the quickest D-line that we've seen so far. That in itself is a challenge, when you have guys as strong as they are that can move the way they can move. It's tough on an O-line."
(On playing in New Orleans) "The opportunity a couple years ago, Doug Marrone came down to New Orleans and he told me he wanted me to come down. He still thought I could be a pretty good player in this league. I explored some other options, but it just seemed like New Orleans would be the best fit for me and I would have a decent chance of playing. The first two years I didn't really play, but I got better, I improved. Then in free agency Jeff (Faine) signed in Tampa, and [Head] Coach [Sean] Payton told me he felt comfortable with me being the starting center. I liked the offense, liked the team and liked the locker room and just decided to stay in New Orleans. It's worked out so far."
(On snapping to QB Drew Brees) "He's a great quarterback and he has a bright mind. He gets us all on the right page. Just seeing some of the things he sees on the football field, just working with him has been a blessing. In my opinion he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and the quarterback I want to play with."
(On if Colts QB Peyton Manning turning C Jeff Saturday into a celebrity means he will be one soon) "(laughs) I don't know yet. I'm just happy to be a part of this team and keep playing hard. If things like that happen, they happen, but you won't hear me complaining about it. I'm just a football player. If an opportunity presents itself, I won't turn it down, but you won't hear me complaining."
(On seizing the moment) "Just because you have one successful season in this league doesn't mean you're going to be back every year. Three years ago we were in the NFC championship game, and it took three seasons to get back. Nothing is guaranteed in this league, so whenever you have an opportunity, you have to go out and try to play your hardest and take advantage of it. Who is to say we'll be back in this position next year?"
(On if coming to New Orleans post-Katrina was a concern) "Definitely after the storm coming down there, me and my wife had some concerns. But Coach Payton and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Loomis and those guys did a good job of telling us that the city would come back, and we could be a part of helping the city come back. That was something that really interested me. I believed in the city of New Orleans. Fortunately the city is fighting back and improving each and every year."
(On his teammates feeling pride in New Orleans) "It's a special place, and the fans are like no other. All the time they're telling us we inspire them, and they inspire us. It's definitely a great bond between the city and the team."
(On the Saints' first Super Bowl vs. the Colts' second since 2007) "It doesn't really matter. We're trying to make it another game. It's still football. It is on a bigger stage, but when it comes down to it, it's still football - Xs and Os and who executes better."
(On the Colts defensive ends) "The two ends are unbelievable. I don't think there are two faster ends in football. They use a variety of moves, speed, and they're also powerful guys that bull-rush well. When you've got to deal with a guy that quick that can still bring some power moves, it's hectic for a tackle. With those two guys on the edge, they kind of make the quarterback step up and then they've got some pretty good rushers inside that get movement in the pocket. It causes a lot of problems."
(On preparing for a healthy Dwight Freeney) "Definitely, because honestly they've got some other guys they can put over there that are just as quick and rush the passer as well. When you go into a game like this, you want to prepare for their best guy and expect their best guy. If we line up and he's not out there, we'll see where we're at then."
Pete Carmichael, Jr.
(on how Saints head coach Sean Payton has developed) "I think, obviously, Sean's done a great job since he's been here, and I think that any time you're in a situation for more than a year or two, three, then you grow from your experiences. I think that he just has such a great pulse for this team and knows what the situation is and knows how to act and get these guys ready to play. I think he's done a fantastic job."
(on the 2009 offseason adjustments that Payton made to the coaching staff and offense) "Well, I think this: I think as soon as the offseason starts, you start looking at yourself and evaluating and saying - and I can only speak from the offensive perspective - saying, ‘OK, what do we need to do better than we did last year or the last couple of years?' And you really focus on those areas, whether it was goal line, short yardage, running the ball. So you spend your offseason researching, looking at other teams in the NFL that have been doing that successfully, and you kind of come up with your list of what you think fits your personnel. So I give credit to (offensive line/running game coach) Aaron Kromer, too, for spending a lot of time studying that as well."
(on how Payton has helped the team to deal with this week) "I think he looked good dressed up as a bellhop. But I think his experience of being here in the past, he was able to relate to us some of his experience from when he was with the Giants, telling the players, ‘Hey, this is what it's going to be like, and we've just got to be prepared for it.'"
(on coaching the offensive line this season) "I knew a lot about them (offensive line) just by being in the same offense with them, coaching the running backs. That was my first year coaching running backs. I had been a line coach all throughout my career in the NFL. So obviously, I paid close attention, and Doug Marrone and I worked well together getting on the same page with the running backs and the O-line. But just seeing them and knowing them, you knew going in they were good people. When you talk about Sean Payton's team in general, he's going to keep a lot of good people around. And if you're a bad guy, he can't get rid of you fast enough. So you know that coming in, and there's an expectation, and it raises people's level of self-worth and their level of doing the right thing, knowing that it's important. So it's a good group of guys, number one. They help each other. They work together on film study. They scout the other team together and help each other out on moves that people use and those kinds of things. It's not a selfish group, by any means."
(on G Jamar Nesbit's role as a backup) "Jamar will sit there and help. And then you have a guy like (Saints T) Zach Strief that will sit with (Saints T Jermon) Bushrod, and they'll watch pass rush moves together and they'll talk amongst each other on how to defeat these moves and how to get past that on a guy. That amount of help, I haven't seen around in other places I've been."
(on how disconcerting it was to lose T Jammal Brown in the preseason) "You know, we were at Houston in preseason and we were practicing against (them) in the indoor (facility) at Houston, and Jammal Brown finds that, ‘Gosh, I'm hurt. There's something wrong with me.' And so he goes and gets checked, and that day, just like any other training camp day, another guy steps up, and Bushrod was there. And you knew he had the ability to step up - he just hadn't done it, so he didn't know he could do it. He thought he could, but he didn't know it, and so just that early chance in training camp of having that opportunity in an away practice, at an away game, and to be able to just settle and play and get with the group, the guys took him in. It allowed him to have some confidence going into the season; it allowed us to have confidence in him going into the season."
(on the offensive line winning the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award presented by Prilosec OTC®) "That is a good award. That's a whole offensive award, really, just like any award is. Drew Brees avoids sacks. I think the offensive line does a nice job protecting, the running backs do a nice job of pass protecting, and Drew gets it out. The receivers understand timing of routes, so that's the whole offense. That goes from Sean Payton down to the last guy on offense."
(On the reality of the Super Bowl) "I've always watched the Super Bowl and seen the media days, but in the beginning, I wasn't one of those kids who wished they were at the Super Bowl because I was a basketball guy. As I began to play football and love the game, those memories have come back. I'm one of those guys who sat at home or in their dorm room and thought, ‘What if one day I can be part of the Super Bowl and the media day and then win the Lombardi trophy.' And, here I am."
(On why the Saints will be able to get to Peyton Manning) "We have a bunch of guys that can make plays and get to the ball. Not to say it's going to be easy. As you can see, they've only allowed 10 sacks all year. They're the best at protecting their quarterback. He's one of the best at blocking the blitz just with his arm because he has a quick release. It's going to be a matter of us on the backend having the tight coverage on the receivers to make Peyton hold the ball. It's going to be on our front seven guys to put pressure on him and to get to him. It's going to work hand-in-hand. The pressure forces turnovers on our end and us making Peyton hold the ball by not having open receivers is going to allow guys to get there."
(On the challenges of the Colts having many talented receivers) "That's one of the difficult things about playing a potent offense like the Colts. You have a number of guys that can step up and have good days receiving. It's going to be on us to have that tight coverage and minimize their guys catches and runs after the catch."
(On not being affected by the big stage of the Super Bowl) "You just have to relax. Don't be overwhelmed. The biggest thing is (to make sure) the night before that you are cool, calm and collected and just go out and play football. At the end of the day, it's just a football game. You just happen to have pretty much everyone in the world watching you play. You can look at it like a Monday night game. You're the only game on television. Just go out there with a cool mind and once you step between those white lines, it's just football."
(On if it is surreal to be in the Super Bowl and his days at Indiana University) "It is surreal because I'm playing for the hometown team. We're in the Super Bowl and it's the first time in this organization's history that we've made it here. My days at IU (Indiana University) helped prepare me. Though we weren't known for much football at IU, we steadily improved every year I was there. Winning, guys on the back end, guys on defense, players in general just did a great job improving year by year.
(On bringing a Super Bowl ring to his Hoosier family) "Definitely. I know they'll love to have that, although I know in the back of their minds some of them are Colts fans. At the end of the day, they're winning no matter what. If we win, they have two alumni, myself and Courtney (Roby), winning a ring. If it's the other way around, they have their Colts winning. Either way, we definitely want the trophy and the ring coming back to New Orleans."
(On if his interception of Brett Favre in the NFC Championship game was his biggest play as a pro) "By far. That has to be the biggest play of my career thus far. To have such a huge hand in propelling us to this point, it has to be one of the biggest moments in my career."
(On the secret to being a shutdown corner) "The biggest thing is your eyes. No matter what position, your eyes are always the key to being a good player. At corner, you need to have big feet and the speed to keep up with these receivers. You have to have the ability to make the plays on the ball. We have a great number of guys on the back end who can do that."
(on having Vince Lombardi's grandson, Joe, as quarterbacks coach) "It's pretty cool. It never really comes up. Joe always downplays it a bit. Here we are trying to win a trophy with his last name on it. To Joe, it's just, ‘Oh, okay.' He's pretty humble around us and we don't talk about it a lot, but I've always thought it was pretty cool. I'm always asking questions about his granddad and he has a framed old gameplan of the Packers from years ago. I thought that was pretty cool, being a history guy. He's a very good coach. He obviously comes from some good stock. We're thrilled to have him. It's not just Joe's last name, he's a very good quarterback coach and a real interested guy."
(on what Joe Lombardi does well as a coach) "Preparation. Getting us ready to play as far as gameplanning and telling us what to expect, what we plan on doing, our strategies, what plays we think are going to work and breaking down defenses. He's very knowledgeable as far as football is concerned. I think Drew (Brees) would tell you the same thing. He's a very good quarterbacks coach."
(on if he is still strong enough to start) "Yes, I could. My legs aren't what they used to be and I'm certainly not running around like I was, but I can still play at this level. Absolutely. My arm is great. No problems."
(on working with Drew Brees) "He's great to work with. He's a very good player on the field. He's a hard worker, has great character, loves his family and loves his teammates. He's funny. He's positive. He's a strong leader. I can't say enough about him."
(on what he brings to this team) "A lot of age (laughing). I just think maybe in a game like this, having been in big games, (I bring) a level of confidence or being able to put guys at ease by saying, ‘Hey listen, this is a big game, but just be who you are, do what you do and you'll be fine.' Certainly that'll play on Sunday. There will be a lot of nerves and a lot of opportunities to remind guys that we're here for a reason. We're not here by accident. Go out there and execute. Do what you do well and you'll be fine. Be confident. Be poised. Be cool and go play football."
(On if the game comes down to who makes the least mistakes) "There's nothing new to this game. It's going to be the same formula that it took to win 13 games in the regular season. We've just got to carry it into this week. The main thing for us is preparation. I think if we can do that, put a great week of work in, I feel like everyone has a pretty good understanding of the game plan. Just go out and execute."
(On separating all the hype from the game) "I think once you get on that bus to go to the practice field it makes it a lot easier. You're physically getting away from everything and going to do what you do every day."
(On if his size will create favorable matchups for him on Sunday) "That's the plan. I like to see myself as a guy that can be open even when I'm not open. [QB] Drew [Brees] has the ability to hit me on a couple back-shoulder throws and just give me some jump balls to go make plays, and that has definitely worked for us in the past."
(On why he doesn't brag like other big-name wide receivers) "That's just my nature. I just like to go out and handle my business and do what I'm supposed to do. It just so happens that this is the biggest stage probably in the world that day. Hopefully people will get the opportunity to see exactly what I can do."
(On if he is overshadowed by louder wide receivers) "That's fine with me. For me, it's all about being respected by my peers. I think as long as I continue to work and do the things that I'm doing, I'll earn that respect."
(On fan support in New Orleans) "Especially in the playoffs, my neighborhood has been really supportive of us. They come knock on the door and tell us congratulations. Actually, last week somebody brought me a fruit basket. It's really good to just feel that community support."
(On the Saints defense this year compared to years past) "They're definitely a lot more aggressive, and that's what [Defensive Coordinator] Gregg [Williams] brings to the table. If you look at any team he's been on, the defense has always flown around to the ball and been aggressive. I think that's the big turn-around for the defense this year."
(On if the defense can ignite the offense) "It gives us more opportunities. Anytime as an offensive player you have a defense that's turning the ball over and getting you more opportunities, it definitely gets you excited."
(On what stands out about the Colts defense) "Probably their speed. They're built around speed. It's a smaller defense, but they fly around to the ball, cause a lot of turnovers and cause a lot of havoc."
(On what being in the Super Bowl means to him) "It's definitely a blessing to be in this situation. You've kind of got to balance taking everything in with trying to prepare as normal as possible. I think the good thing for us is once we get on that bus to go to the practice field, you physically separate yourself from all of this and you're able to go prepare and work the way you normally would."
(On the challenges Indianapolis presents on special teams) "[Colts P Pat McAfee] has got a strong leg. He has done a great job coming in as a rookie and really kicking the balls deep into the end zone, forcing us to understand when to bring it out and when not to. He has done a good job with that. The coverage units, they've got a lot of speed out there. They've done a good job using that speed in getting down and making plays."
(On the importance of special teams in the Super Bowl) "Very, very important. It's a key component. You know that points are going to be scored. You know they are two outstanding defenses and two outstanding offenses. Our course going in, as far as special teams, is going to be crucial. We're just going out there, working hard and making sure that we do our part."
(On what he will do to make sure he has an impact on the game) "Everything. All 11 guys out there on special teams, we go out there, we work hard and hold each other accountable."
(On if he got his family taken care of for the Super Bowl) "Everybody starts coming in tomorrow. I'm getting everybody down here and enjoying this time as well. It's important to me. But my focus right now is on this game. Once they get down here, they'll have all the fun that they want to, but obviously my head will be in the game."
(On how many tickets he tracked down for family) "We only got a maximum of 15, so after that 15, everybody was on their own."
(On if it's tough to tell people they can't have a ticket) "It's very tough. I have a very big support system around me with friends and family and everybody like that, so it was tough to tell people know. You know you want everybody who has been there since day one to experience this. It was tough, but everybody understood."
(on changing the culture of the defense) " They've played for a lot of coaches. When I walk in the first day in the first meeting of the offseason training program April 1, there are a lot of things we covered in that 30 minute meeting. One of the things that I covered was there will not be an excuse by anyone in this room about having a coach slow you down. There will not be an excuse about wishing that you played for a coach that will let you play, that will encourage aggressiveness the way I will encourage aggressiveness. All my life I've been trying to speed players up, toughen players up, nasty players up. I promise you if we live on the edge and play on the edge, I'll grab you before you're ready to fall off. If you're about ready to fall off that edge and cause our team to get hurt or do something bad for our team, I'll grab you by the pants. We'll chit chat. I'll settle you down, but until you get there, we can't be good. You have to climb to that edge all the time. There have only been a couple of times that we've gotten to that edge. I say it all the time: live on the edge, play on the edge, never hurt the team. Our guys have bought into that."
(on maintaining that attitude throughout the season) "I don't think you can show up on Sunday night at the Super Bowl and expect to turn it on like a light switch and say, ‘Here we are now. We've got to play different.' I'm a certain way off the field, and these guys are a certain way in meetings, a certain way in practice and a certain way when they're not competing. But when we step on the field of competition, that's what it is. The reporters and the people that watch us practice, even the offensive coaches that I was new to, going against them every day in practice, they thought we were nuts. They thought we were nuts in OTAs. They thought we were nuts in minicamps. They were talking bad about us in the meetings. I know they were. But all of the sudden they said, ‘Hey, this is pretty good. It's making us better.' It started from the first practice. Buddy Ryan told me this a long time ago: sometimes you have to break a thoroughbred before you bridle a thoroughbred. There were a lot of breaks we had to do in breaking bad habits and setting up the culture and foundation. We did it through some painful discussions and we did it through some painful exertion. I would say all the time, ‘If we can't play football the right way then we need to get in better condition. We've got to go over here and condition a little bit.' It wasn't a negative reinforcement. It was an opportunity reinforcement. It was an opportunity for them to choose how they were supposed to play when we got on the field. If they didn't choose, the only way we had a chance to compete now was to be in better shape than the other team, so we went over and did the old fashioned up/downs, old fashioned running and all that kind of stuff. It was somewhat looked upon as old school. Now they look at it with tremendous pride. Another thing that we've done here - and you can talk to some of the players - once we ended minicamps, we ended minicamps with 40 up/downs. We started training camp with the very first drill ... the very first drill was 40 up/downs. I call them out. Any new player that has come into our regime, that has come onto our team after that first day, before they could practice with us, they had to do 40 up/downs with the whole team around them. It was almost a camaraderie thing. They felt that that guy was paying dues to what we've gone through before. There were certain guys at tryouts, they thought, ‘Holy cow! I'm going to have to do that?' Yeah you're going to have to do that if you want to be part of our team. Those little bitty things are more important than any Xs and Os that I called. Those kinds of things, from a unity and a culture and a foundations standpoint are what got us here. It's not some fancy defense that I called. It had to be the competitiveness and the toughness that they all bring together."
(on the Saints cornerbacks) "I'm a better coach when Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter play because they allow you to do a lot of other things out there. When you take a look at the statistics of them being able to handle their man out there on the Autobahn, out there on the fastest track on the field, it helps you coaching wise to give protection to other people that may not be as good in the core of your defense. All of the sudden you're not as good at corner, you've got to give a lot of help out there. That's the most dangerous position you're defending and then you lighten up a little bit inside. Both these young guys are excellent."