New Orleans Saints Defensive End Akiem Hicks Post-Practice Media Availability Sunday, July 28, 2013
In the first day of pads, how did it go out there?
“I love it. You wait for this day all offseason. You are on your break, but you are really looking forward to coming out and hitting and getting back to doing what you are used to doing.”
Do you think you are more suited for a 3-4?
“I definitely feel that it has complemented my style of play so far. When you play football, you never know what you are going to play. One day, you are playing a 4-3. The next day, you are playing a 3-4. You have to be ready for everything, so I feel like it is working out.”
Have you picked Kenyon Coleman’s brain about it?
“I was actually just picking his brain a minute ago. He said that he didn’t have much to tell me. I said that you have twelve years of wisdom that I think I could use. He put a little knowledge on me, but I’m not going to tell you exactly what it was.”
How do you feel after today’s practice compared to the first couple?
“Today is different. When the pads come on, it is way different. When you are a defensive lineman, you are big and strong, and you have to hold back a little bit so that you don’t hurt anybody. When you get your pads on, there is no reason to hold back anymore. You get to do what you like to do.
So you look forward to today?
“Yeah, to hit offensive lineman (laughing). Yeah, of course.”
Where is your comfort level in terms of nose tackle or defensive end? What do you feel most comfortable with at this point?
“I don’t really have one. I have always played everywhere. In college, I would play games where I was the left end, the tackle, the nose, and then the right end. I have always played everything. I am really used to it. I can get in either stance.”
When you are talking about a 3-4 defense, is it your responsibility to kind of kick up the intensity up front in taking on blockers?
“You definitely want to take on the blockers for your linebackers, but you also want to get penetration and off-put the offensive lineman and create a different line of scrimmage. You don’t want to play on the line of scrimmage. You want to push that line of scrimmage back, so you can play in their backfield.”
Are you more comfortable this year than you were last year?
“I can’t say more comfortable. It’s football. You have to be as comfortable as you make it. Coming in your rookie season, when you come in, your eyes are wide open, and you are just looking for the next thing to do. Now, it is a little bit more clear.”
New Orleans Saints Cornerback Keenan Lewis Post-Practice Media Availability Sunday, July 28, 2013
Now that you have been through a couple days of camp here in New Orleans, do you really feel like you are living the dream, even more so than before?
“Definitely. I am just trying to adjust to this heat and help put the pieces of the puzzle together. It has been going pretty well so far.”
How did the first day of pads go?
“It went pretty well. It is always hard adjusting to the first full day with pads, but I am pretty sure tomorrow will be a better day. I am ready to go.”
Early on, do you see the potential of this defense, of this secondary specifically, and the personalities that are there?
“Definitely. We have some of the older guys who are tremendously great at leading and a lot of young guys who are also putting in the work. When you have guys like that, I am pretty sure we will be one of the best.”
Individually, what do you hope to bring to this defense?
“Leadership. I learned from some great guys over the four years in Pittsburgh. It is hard work. I am pretty sure with hard work and toughness, you can pretty much do anything that you want to do.”
Being a veteran and seeing some of those young guys like Kenny Vaccaro out there being a little feisty. Do you encourage him to keep it up, or is that just a rookie trying to do too much?
“No, I tell him to keep it up. That is the game. When you have a guy who plays tough and fast like that, you don’t want them to slow down. It is football. I like what I see with Kenny so far.”
As one of the few guys with 3-4 experience, what do you recognize from playing at Pittsburgh from Rob Ryan’s defense?
“I see the same thing. A 3-4 is a 3-4. The schemes are similar. It is different terminology, but you know (you are playing tough football. You are getting after the quarterback, and you have guys out there making plays.”
Do you see your teammates picking it up quickly?
“Definitely. We put a lot of time in the study room as well. When they come out to the field, it is easy to translate.”
How competitive does it get between the offense and defense? I know you had a couple of plays the first day, and they seemed to strike back again today.
“You have guys like Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and Lance Moore. They are feisty. They are some of the best in the business, and you should expect that with those guys.”
What do you see from Corey White, working with him in the room?
“Excellent guy, a guy that works every day to be better. When you have a guy like that you can expect him to be one of the best. I have high expectations for that guy. He doesn’t argue or anything like that. He just sits there and observes and asks a lot of questions. You can see him making plays out there.”
Your position group in particular, has a lot of guys who have been here for a long time. Do you feel like you want to earn their respect, and I want to do it by making plays on the field? Is there a natural tendency to feel like that being a newcomer?
“I respect those guys. I watched them for quite some time, being from New Orleans. I respect each and every one of them. You have to earn their respect. When you are a newcomer, you have to earn everyone’s respect. They want to see what you have. I have to come out here and work hard every day.”
How is it going, so far, in that regard?
“You have to ask those guys. I think it’s going well.”
You missed a few reps. What happened there?
“It was the heat and things. I will be fine. I was good to go. I have been gone for 10 years. I got away to Oregon State for college, and it wasn’t nearly this hot. I am adjusting to it, and I will be ready to go.”
What do you want to be better at this year?
“Just making more plays on the ball. I was one of the top in the league in pass breakups, making turnovers and interceptions (is what I need to improve on). That is my main goal and help the team win.”
You have probably done your film work over the past couple of years on the AFC North receivers. Have you had a chance to try and start breaking down the NFC South?
“I had the opportunity at Pittsburgh to play against some of those guys. They are tremendous athletes, from Atlanta, to Tampa Bay and even Carolina. I had the opportunity to play against each and every one of them, so I know what I got myself into. I have to sharpen my skills and be ready to go.”
Does any specific player come to mind?
“I like Julio Jones. He is tall and makes plays on the ball. Steve Smith is a veteran and (has) been in the game for a long time. I know he has some tricks under his sleeve. I have to study more and be ready to go.”
What are some of the best things for you about playing NFL football in a town where you grew up?
“I am playing for my city. Other places, you go out, you are playing because you like the game, and it is what you do. Playing for your city, I think just means much more for me. I know I have to go out there and show up.”
What about seeing the people you grew up with. Now you are an NFL player and not the same kid from New Orleans. Is that challenging or is it fun?
“It is challenging, but we have great teammates. The guys help with keeping the pressure off of me. I am pretty sure it is going to be challenging at time.”
This isn’t exactly the same Saints franchise from when you were a kid is it?
“No, they got better (joking). I was always a Saints fan. When you have a guy come in and change the program from top to bottom (and) change the program around, you can see (what has happened). I am pretty sure it is going to be a great season.”
What are some of your most painful Saints’ memories from when you were a kid?
“I don’t really have any. Like I said, I went through the wins and losses. When it is like that, you are just cheering to be a Saints fan.”
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