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Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 8:30 AM to 9:15 AM EDT
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Saints: Pierre Thomas Conference Call Transcript
Q: Can you comment on the season in general and the offense clicking so far?
PT: Oh yeah, we’re doing a good job out here clicking on all cylinders. We want to get better at this run game, but hey it takes time.
Q: Do you feel like this could be the week to improve the run game without Vince Wilfork on the Patriots defense?
PT: Who knows? At this point I can’t say if it is going to be good or bad at this point. I just know that we put together a good run game plan, and we are just working this week to execute that. We’re going against a tough defense. That linebacker corps is very stout, very heavy, very big and we have to just get off of those guys fast and push those guys back.
Q: With the Patriots not having Wilfork, that must change the game.
PT: A little bit. They still have a couple of big guys up front that are very good. Without him, it does kind of give us a lenience to our side, but we can’t take that for granted. They still have several other players that can step up and do the job too.
Q: Do you notice a change in Drew Brees now that Coach Payton has come back? Does he seem more comfortable and relaxed?
PT: I don’t notice anything with Coach Payton being back with Drew’s attitude. He’s more focused this year. He’s very cautious and he reads his reads a lot more. He is really focused and determined to do better, just like we all do. We’re all trying to get better each and every game. I know he looked at film of himself last year and corrected any mistakes that he made, just like we do. It’s the same thing I do. I looked at all the mistakes I made last year and try to correct myself and get better each and every day.
Q: What’s been the biggest difference with having Coach Payton back this year?
PT: There’s a little bit more attitude. You see a lot more focus and attitude form these guys. Guys have that swagger I guess that we missed last year. We really didn’t have that good swagger to keep working hard, to keep fighting, to keep pressing on. And we felt like our family wasn’t complete. Now that we’ve got our head coach back, our family is complete. We have that swagger about us. We have that attitude to go out and fight and finish and work hard. If we mess up one play we shake it off and move on to the next play and keep thinking positive. As long as we keep thinking positive and play our game, the outcome is going to be where we like it.
Q: Do you think that because Coach Payton wasn’t present last year the team felt like they could get away with things?
PT: I don’t think any of these guys said, ‘Well hey he’s not here, we’re going to do our own thing.’ Maybe last year things were quite out of hand just a little bit. But we were still focused on the task at hand. We wanted to show everybody that since we were in that position we were not going to fall down and not do anything about it or just give up on ourselves. We kept fighting. I know last year that we fought throughout the whole entire season to do good and keep our heads up high. We were put in a position that I don’t think any team has ever been put in. I believe that we kept our heads up high and we fought throughout the entire season.
Q: Just from looking at the film, what has popped out about the Patriots defense?
PT: I have to say their guys up front, the seven guys up front on the defensive line. Those guys are very stout, very heavy, but pretty fast on the outside. You’ve got Rob Ninkovich who is a good pass rusher. You’ve really got to focus on him getting up the field on our tackles. We’ve got to slow him down on the outside a little bit, and you’ve got their big heavy linebackers. These guys are very heavy, not too fast. You have a few guys, [Brandon] Spikes I know he is a very heavy guy, downhill. We’ve got to watch him. They have so much experience. Then blitz pickup wise, we really have to have our feet staggered, buried into the ground and get ready to deliver a blow because these guys are very strong. We know they’re going to come full force right at us. We have a lot to worry about. Then you’ve got their corner who is doing a great job. [Aqib] Talib is doing a great job on the outside. I know he’s probably going to be matched up on our good receivers, but we’re just got to stay focused and play our game. That’s what we’re doing. We’re looking at all eight of those guys. We can hit these guys and try to execute perfect.
Q: What’s the difference in the Patriots defense from a few weeks ago to now with Vince Wilfork out?
PT: I mean that’s a big loss for them, but they still have guys that we have to worry about. He has a big key, a big asset to their defense, but they have other guys that can do damage too. We can’t just look at it like, ‘Hey they lost one of their big guys, we’re really going to take it to these guys.’ No, they’ve got other guys that can step up to the plate, and that’s what we’ve got to be cautious about.
Q: What has the improved Saints defense meant to the team and to the offense?
PT: It gives us a little more swagger that the defense is out there turning the ball over, making big hits, making big plays. It gives you the attitude to say, ‘Hey our defense just stopped them, let’s do something on the offensive side.’ They have a swagger about themselves which brings a lot of excitement to our team. Once we see our defense is doing good getting three-and-outs, or getting turnovers or making big plays on the defensive side, it gets our offense hyped and excited to go out there and say, ‘Hey our defense is doing a good job, let’s go out and help these boys out. Let’s put points on the board for these guys because they’re out there making big plays, stopping these big time offensive teams.’ We want to go out there and contribute to that. Our defense is doing a heck of a job turning the ball over and stopping these guys. We just feed off of that, we feed off each other. Us making big plays on the offensive side, they’re excited. You could see our whole bench going crazy once one outfit is out there doing a good job.
Q: What needs to be done to get the running game going?
PT: I just think it takes focus. Focus on everybody’s part: on the running backs, the offensive line, the receivers, the tight ends. Everybody has to take a part in it. It’s not just on us running backs, it’s not just on the offensive line, it’s not just on the tight ends or whoever. We all have to come together and really focus on improving our run game and really taking the time to read our keys, read our assignments and establish good work. That’s one thing we really need to focus on. It takes time. It’s something you’ve got to keep progressing, keep punching at, keep punching at. Once you hit those first maybe two, three carries for big runs, you just can give up on it. I know that’s one thing we have to keep reminding ourselves. You can’t give up on it. We know it might not work at this time, but hey it might work again. Let’s keep going, keep going, keep going and next thing you know, it’s going to progress and get better and better. So, you’ve got to find that groove and we haven’t really found that groove. We keep pressing at it, pressing at it. We get a few good runs here and there, you know Khiry [Robinson] had a few good ones, myself or [Darren] Sproles and when Mark [Ingram] gets back I know he is going to do a good job. We really focus on that and we keep talking about it. That’s one thing we’re trying to get better at is our run game.