New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis Media Availability Thursday, July 25, 2013
“First of all I want to welcome everyone to 2013 New Orleans Saints Training Camp. We are really excited to get started, we are really excited about the guys on this roster, excited to see how this team unfolds and how it comes together during training camp, excited about some changes that we had in terms of our defense, and excited to have Sean Payton back at training camp as well.”
How do you evaluate how this new defense is shaping up?
“I don’t think it is time for an evaluation yet. I like the things that have happened so far, I think Rob Ryan would tell you he is excited about the guys, how they have taken to it, but we haven’t put any pads on yet, we haven’t had any preseason games, and so I think that still remains to be seen, but all the signs are positive so far.”
Do you have any injuries to report?
“We have a few, one serious in Victor Butler, but the rest of these guys I think will resolve themselves, most of them in the first few days of camp here, a couple might take a little longer than that. I think we are in pretty good shape, relatively speaking except for Victor Butler. I don’t want to get specific about those other guys, but I will say this, Roman Harper’s will resolve itself in the first day or two. I think Patrick Robinson’s will take a little longer, probably the end of the preseason games before he is able to go full go, but Marques Colston may be a few days here. Obviously, Victor Butler is going to take some time, but everyone else’s will resolve itself in the next few days.”
Is there a reason why Victor Butler hasn’t been placed on Injured Reserve yet?
“We don’t have to do that, as long as we keep him on our 90-man roster. We will see how his rehab goes. If there is a possibility if he could be back before the end of the season, maybe into a playoff run, we might have that opportunity to designate him as a player that could return.”
What does it mean to you to see Sean Payton and Drew Brees together on the sideline?
“It’s just that, it’s just back to normal. We have 2012 in our rearview mirror and look, we are just looking ahead, we are not looking in the rearview mirror, so all that just feels normal, and it feels good. It was an excitement that, it’s probably a little fresher excitement than it would be ordinarily because of what happened a year ago. I think we are all a little bit more focused than we would have been otherwise.”
What are your biggest concerns going into training camp?
“I think there are some position battles, obviously, left tackle (as an example) that we want to see how that unfolds. We like the guys that are going to be a part of that competition. We have some other spots and they aren’t necessarily starter spots, there are some spots that we are going to have some excellent competition at. I think we have a lot of young guys. We have some guys that are in their second year in Nick Toon, Akiem Hicks, and some other guys that we are looking to see some significant progress from and I think we will see that. Those are the kinds of things we look forward to, particularly (in) the early part in training camp.”
Is the working relationship between you and Sean Payton the same or has it changed?
“I don’t think anything has changed. I would say, from my standpoint, it’s stronger than ever. It is certainly not worse. I would probably say it is better, but it was pretty good to begin with.”
Have there been any talks about a new Jimmy Graham deal?
“Look I would probably rather not get into that, those are things that we haven’t (talked about in public in the past) - obviously we have some guys in the last year of their contract that are important players to our team and have been important players to our team. We will talk about it and we have talked about them. Those may or may not happen. We are just going to see how this unfolds these next few weeks and it is possible.”
As far as depth is concerned, is this something that weighs on you when it comes to training camp?
"That question always exists if you get an injury and you lose somebody like a Victor Butler then you start kicking yourself about maybe a move that you contemplated but didn’t make. But I feel good about our roster. We have a good mix of veteran players and of older players as well as a lot of young guys that are hungry and have the right type of talent and attitude so we feel good about our roster; I think all of us do.”
How confident are you that this team will be more like they were in 2011 or is it a mystery?
“I think every team is different and I think that is what training camp is about; trying to gage where you are at. Obviously we have some elements that are the same in Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Lance Moore and a number of core players that have been with us for a good period of time that know how Saints football is played and how Sean Payton likes to run this football team, but every team is different. How we respond during this training camp is going to dictate how we do going forward.”
Do you feel bringing in Rob Ryan is working out?
“It is great so far, I think he is everything that we thought he was as a coach and I think our players are responding to him in a real positive manner. We will get into the meat and potatoes of this training camp and I expect that to continue.”
What do you want to see out of Mark Ingram this season?
“A lot of touchdowns. I think he just needs to stay healthy. That would be a real positive. And then we need to take advantage of his talents and I think we have done (that) in the past, we have utilized the talents of a lot of the running backs on this roster, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Travaris Cadet. Obviously we will continue to do that. Sean Payton has a great talent for identifying special and unique talents that each guy has and taking advantage of that and we will continue to do that. Obviously Mark is a really fine running back and can run inside and outside and be a part of the passing game. He is much more versatile I think than people give him credit for so we are going to expect a good season, a healthy season from him.”
What do you want to see out of Drew Brees this year?
“Look, I just want to see the same things we have gotten over the past six or seven seasons, that’s part of his value is that he gives you a consistent performance and a consistent effort and consistent leadership every day and not just on gamedays, but every day during the week and the offseason and during the season. So I know that is what we are going to get from him so those are what our expectations are and we probably take it for granted.”
Talk about how everything that happened in New England this offseason and how important it is to evaluate players’ backgrounds.
“We are always concerned about backgrounds, I think every team is. And I want to say when Sean Payton was hired here, we talked an awful lot about modeling ourselves and our program after the New England Patriots. Sometimes you take a risk on someone that you are not quite sure about. We have done that occasionally. No one can expect that to happen, what happened in New England, to happen. So, I think our emphasis has been in the right place, I think it will continue to be in the right place. I’m not going to be critical of any other program or what they have done. We tried to model ourselves after things that they did and have done in New England, so it’s an unusual circumstance..”
Is there a league wide movement where teams are disciplining their players and not the league?
“I think we have always tried to mind our own store, but yet there are rules in place as far as the Collective Bargaining Agreement limiting teams in what they can do, but we always try to take care of our own house. I don’t know how other teams approach it, it’s not something that we talk about with other teams, certainly (we) know how we deal with it. Look, we pay attention to it, we talk to our guys about them representing our organization, our ownership the right way and I think they do a great job, even though you are going to have an incident now and then. Things are going to happen occasionally, but I do think our organization, our team, our coaches and obviously our players do a good job of conducting themselves that make us all proud.”
You only had one incident off the field this offseason; do you think that is a testament of the character of your guys?
“I think it’s the character of the players. One is too many and we have talked with that player and we have dealt with that. He has some consequences to deal with that, but (that) we pay attention to it is about all I can say. We try to give our guys the right resources and the right tools and right education to not get themselves in circumstances that they will regret later.”
I know you mentioned normalcy, but what is the biggest difference in having Sean Payton back?
“I can walk down the hall and talk to him. And that is important. I am being a little facetious, but we make a lot of decisions together and if he has an idea he is going to bounce it off me and vice versa. So not having that available was a big void a year ago and having that back, obviously that is the most visible and most obvious thing, just (that) we can talk.”
Does Sean seem more focused, more tense, more relaxed, or the same guy?
“I would probably say he is the same guy, but he does seem really focused. But when I think back to the years before, he was always focused and I know our players would tell you that. Obviously, the big sign we had in the indoor facility you could tell he was focused that day. So, look that is part of his talent, to focus on this team and the task at hand, boy he is right there.”
Talk about the HGH testing talks with the NFLPA.
“That is kind of out of my hand. What goes on with the league and the union in that regard, I’m not privy too. Our players are always educated about performance enhancing drugs, the rules that exist. We educate them. They have other information provided to them by the league and the union. So I think our guys understand the policies and I don’t anticipate it being an issue.”
How refreshing is it to get all of the draft picks signed earlier in the offseason?
“It’s a lot more relaxing for sure. It has worked out well for us. We signed them kind of early this year, which is not typical for me because I usually like waiting. I think there are some good reasons to wait until we get to the period right before training camp. This year we did it a little different, we signed them immediately after the draft. That’s a credit to Khai Harley and our guys on our staff that actually did those particular negotiations. It does make it easier, in terms of getting them signed. I think it is better for the players, in regard that they can feel comfortable getting in our offseason program and they don’t have that worry, am I going to get a contract, is it going to be right? I think it is a positive for both the players and us in terms of timing.”
There is a lot of interest in Terron Armstead, can you revisit what you saw in him in the scouting process?
“I think our guys obviously saw a talented, very athletic player, (with) a lot of physical ability and skills (who) played at a smaller college. He is very intelligent. Look, it is everything you would want, the only bugaboo is that he didn’t play at one of the bigger schools, yet he has done well in this offseason and I think he is going to provide great competition for Charles Brown and Jason Smith at that position.”
In your talks with Jimmy Graham, do you sense that going into his final year on his contract could become a distraction during the season?
“I have not seen one single sign of that from Jimmy and I just saw Jimmy out here a few minutes ago. He knows that we want to have him here for the long term and his entire career and I think he wants to be here for that same period, so those things have a way of working out for us. I think we have had a lot of success in keeping our core players here for the long run so hopefully there is some comfort in that to him.”
Do you give Jimmy Graham credit for not turning into an issue?
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