Davenport, Ruiz ruled out while Evans’ status up in the air for Saints-Bucs opener

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Cesar Ruiz, Nick Easton
New Orleans Saints center Nick Easton and center Cesar Ruiz got through drills during practice at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, pool)

The Saints will be without a starter on each side of the ball for Sunday’s Week 1 clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Defensive end Marcus Davenport (elbow) and offensive guard/center Cesar Ruiz (ankle) have been ruled out for New Orleans. Defensive back P.J. Williams (hamstring) was a limited participant in Friday’s practice and was listed as questionable.

Trey Hendrickson and Carl Granderson will will the void left by Davenport’s absence while Nick Easton is expected to start at right guard in place of the rookie Ruiz.

The Bucs listed Mike Evans as doubtful with a hamstring injury but the star wide receiver did practice for the first time this week on a limited basis Friday.

** UPDATE: Evans was upgraded to questionable Saturday, meaning he has a 50/50 chance to play Sunday. **

Tampa Bay linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who did not practice Thursday, returned to practice today.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also did not practice Friday but is expected to play Sunday at 3:25 p.m. when the NFC South rivals clash at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Video with New Orleans Media
Friday, September 11, 2020

You sort of talked about it a little bit yesterday, but how much do you feel like defensively for you guys you’re preparing for two different offenses just with maybe (Tom) Brady concepts and (Bruce) Arians concepts?
“Yeah, look, I think it’s a good question. It’s one of the things that can happen sometimes to start a season when you have staff changes. In this case, you have a quarterback change and, look, someone with Tom’s experience, certainly there’s going to be plays he’s comfortable with that he’s run in New England. The question is just how much are we looking at and we’re going to have to adjust and be prepared for those formations that we’ve seen on film. I know we’ve looked at both sets of teams relative to the preparation and the cut ups.”

Does that put you in a position at all where you have to go in with more defensive pivots, if you will, than a normal game or no?
“No, it’s not about more defense. It’s just about understanding what you’re getting offensively and then preparing for it accordingly. There’s a handful of nuances, but I think it doesn’t require additional defense. There’s certain elements to how we want to play and play in this game, but the ability to just recognize formations and play types based on the formations would be that challenge.”

Does it feel that way every season or does it feel that way even more so this season without a preseason to base some concepts on?
“Yeah, look, this is a little uniquely different. Typically in the preseason, your first game of the season, there’s always going to be some changes and wrinkles that teams have and you’ve got to adjust to. This is more philosophical relative to the quarterback and so I would say this is a little different than normal.”

With the practice squad rules and the ability to protect some guys, how come you guys didn’t do that?
Yeah, a number of teams didn’t. We were one of them and just chose to go that route. There’s pros and cons. Obviously, you put a protection tag on someone, you’re alerting 31 other teams maybe of a player that that you might have plans for. I think it’s just one of those things where I don’t know how many teams, 14 or 15, but I know we weren’t the only ones”

I saw that Josh Hill was listed at fullback in the depth chart this week. What does that mean for him if anything and does adding (Adam) Trautman kind of change what you could do with Hill with kind of having three solid tight ends now?
“Yeah, look, he was actually listed as F. And so, we play with a lot of two tight ends. Josh plays certainly the tight end position, but he can play the F tight end position. It was just as experience and instead of just listing it as a traditional fullback, we probably play with two tight ends more than we play with a tight end and a true fullback. I wouldn’t read into any of that other than how that flip card reads.”

I do not know if I misread it as fullback yesterday, but I opened it today and it said F.
“Look, it’s a good question because the F can be (Michael) Burton, the F can be Josh (Hill), it just depends on what personnel that we have in the game.”

What’s the update on Ruiz going into Sunday’s game?
“No updates.”

I feel like Lavonte David’s been with Tampa for like, forever now. What sort of challenge does he present when you’re kind of scheming against their defense?
“Well, look, he’s an exceptional player. He’s got great awareness. He’s one of those linebackers that defends the pass extremely well and the run extremely well. He can move, he’s got great instincts and key and diagnosis. He’s just one of those ‘headsy’ players that you might get him once, but he’s one of those guys that’s going to be a half a step ahead if you’re not changing up formations and trying to change the looks up. He’s that good of a player.”

You talked about their front seven earlier this week, but specifically the two bookends they have with Jason Pierre Paul and Shaq Barrett. What about those guys? What kind of challenges do they present?
“It’s a tremendous front and the numbers show it. Every day, we situationally go through red zone, third down, running game. They certainly pressure the quarterback very well. Their rush patterns are difficult. They are athletic and they present a lot of challenges.”

Without having the crowds, of course, the fans for week one and now week three, how do you keep the team engaged? I know there’s been conversations about keeping the energy up for the first two home games. Has there been any specific preparation for that?
“No, look, we’ve been there twice. I haven’t heard any news relative to week three, but we’ve been there and practiced with the exact environment we’re going to have Sunday, last week. And like I said before, it’ll be different for everyone. We’ll get adjusted to it and pretty soon you’re playing. Yeah, would we like to have our home crowd? I think it’s one of the better, you know, home environments there is in sport, but that’s just the way it is right now. I know it’s that way for week one.”

Mayor (Latoya) Cantrell said (no fans) for week three also.
“I just hadn’t heard that yet. We’ll deal with it if it’s week three the same way and we go from there.”

What’s the challenge when you’re going against a team that has a power running back, but they also have all these guys that can kind of spread you out and maybe lighten up the box?
“Well, look, you’re playing run, you’re playing pass, you have to understand when you’re playing one or the other how to defend the opposite, if you’re playing in a too deep look, and you’re having to defend the run, you’ve got to be prepared for that. If you’re playing with more down safety and you’re getting the passing game, and the unique thing is the differences with the running backs, that’ll be important to gauge and how they are utilizing them.”

Relative to P.J. (Williams), kind of have the same vein as Josh hill on offense, P.J. is on the roster as a DB now and listed as a free safety on the “depth chart,” Is that the kind of the same thing with Josh in that it’s based on matchups is where he’s going to be?
“Yeah, he’s got really good position flex. He’s played nickel for us. He’s played corner for us. He is smart enough, He is one of those players that can play a lot of positions. So yeah, again, the old traditional flip cards always showed four defensive backs, three linebackers and over time we’re playing with so much substituted defenses that (it’s changed), but look, he has played that position in camp as well as inside and outside. And that’s kind of unusual for a defensive back, but it’s a good trait.”

We’ve talked about that position-less football on the defensive side, but do you feel like you’ve got that on offense too with some of the guys you’ve got like (Ty) Montgomery, Taysom (Hill), Alvin (Kamara) that can kind of move around and do a lot of stuff?
“Yeah, I think we do. I think the key each week is trying to put plans together that can utilize their strengths and put them in the best positions to have success, but it’s nice when you have those type of those type of players.”

Payton: “Do we have Travers (Mackel) to blame for the week three decision? Is that the deal?”

Katherine Terrell: I made that joke actually. I said, “If they don’t have fans in week three, it’s all going to be Travers’ fault.”

Payton: “I didn’t hear that, but that’s who we’ll blame.”

Amie Just: Yeah, that press conference was right before practice.

Payton: “Oh, is that right?”

Katherine Terrell: Yes, no fans for week three and then no idea after that.

I’m curious if you caught any of the Chiefs, Texans game last night and if you did maybe if there was a moment at all of self-reflection where you felt like, man, we’ve been through a lot just as a league over the last several months to get to this point. Was there any self-reflection, like, I’m glad to see football on the TV and we kind of made it to this point at least?
“Look, I’m sure I would have felt that way. Our Thursdays are really spent on a lot of red zone, a lot of goal line, short yardage. Periodically, when you’re taking a quick break, you get a score update, but not enough to watch the game really like you’re discussing.”

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver/Return Specialist
Video Call With New Orleans Media
Friday, September 11, 2020

I know during training camp, you got to do a lot more work in the receiver position, I guess just how excited are you to kind of finally get a chance to do that in a game?
“Oh, it’s been a long offseason, a strange offseason. So it is just good to just be back out there.”

Last year, I know we’ve talked about the preseason a lot, but just how much will special teams, all of the units I guess in your opinion be affected just by how you haven’t had as many potential opportunities for live reps in those situations?
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but the good thing is all 32 teams had to deal with the same thing. So it sucks not being able to (play) preseason (games), not being able to, go out there and rep it live against somebody else. But we’ve been working on it a lot and we just have to make sure that we go out there and do what we know we can do.”

How much of your offseason was spent training specifically for receiver and improving there getting to the point where you can be kind of counted on there?
“I love it. Really. That was really my main focus, going into the offseason just trying to make myself better at the receiver position, so that I could take more reps on offense.”

So I guess specifically, when you’re doing that, what are you focusing on, it is like route running. is it technique stuff?
“Everything. Techniques, route running, everything.”

Now that you have worked on that through training camp, I guess, how much are you looking forward to being a part of just that versatile offense and not knowing what to expect from all of the guys that you have back there?
“We got a talented group of guys, a lot of weapons on offense. So to be considered part of it, it’s an honor and I just can’t wait to see what we do.”

In a game like this, where there’s so much uncertainty on what the offense is going to be doing from the other team. Has special teams been something that, the coaches may be stressed a little bit more that like, those yards are going to be really important?
“I think that’s why this organization has been so good. Special teams is a big part of the game and we harp (on) that. We’ve been harping on it since I have been here last year. So there’s no really big emphasis because we preach so much.”

Did you work with someone this offseason, like a trainer on the wide receiver stuff?
“Yeah, I had a trainer back at home that was pretty well known in my city. So, I worked with him.”

Can you say who it was?
“His name is PJ.”

And just how much growth have you feel like you made, just like kind of being able to focus on that and just kind of having a whole offseason to know that was maybe the next step for you instead of just maybe special teams in year one?
“I think I grew a lot, as far as, just my technique and being able to run more routes in the route tree.”

There was one throw that kind of stands out to me from Jameis (Winston) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. You kind of split the two Jenkins’ (Malcolm, Janoris). Can you just tell us about that throw and just your route on that play.
“It was just a Go route but they went Cover 2. So Jameis just made a good throw. All I did was run down the sideline and catch the ball.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill
Video Call with Local Media
Thursday, September 10, 2020

The last time fans saw you, they saw so much of you in that Minnesota playoff game, do you think that will potentially be what we could see this weekend and in future games or do you think it will just be determined on a game to game basis?
“I think every week will be a little bit different. And I thinkwe’re trying to find that balance of how much I’m going to be used, how much I’m not going to be used. So I think the coaches have done a nice nice job of finding different ways that we can create challenges for the defense and I think it really becomes a week to week thing.”

Can you talk about Marquez Callaway both from a special teams perspective and from the point of view of being a quarterback as well?
“Yeah. I mean, I think he obviously had a really good camp, came in and made the (53-man) roster. I think he was a kid that has the raw talent. He’s fast. He’s got good hands, everything that you’d want to see from a receiver. But I felt like he had this really competitive nature about himself, which, at the end of the day, when you’re playing special teams, it’s all about competing and winning your matchups, and that’s what he was doing.”

With your unique role in this team, I’m curious how’s your mentality or the way you prepare mentally before going into a game changed since you’ve been here?
“I think my role has evolved so much since the time I first got here until the point that I’m I’m at now. So training camp I was in this whole mindset that man I have the opportunity to really work on myself as a quarterback and being as good as I possibly can. And I still have that mindset week to week, but I’m going to be asked to do different things, different weeks. So I do have this mental shift because the reality is so much of the quarterback position is played mentally. Well now I’m stepping into a role where there’s a pretty physical aspect to what I’m going to be asked to do. So that preparation has certainly been different.”

What is it like becoming a father and juggling roles both at home with your son and your wife and now at the facility?
“I have got to be honest, I am still getting plenty of sleep, which means my wife is not. But honestly, it’s been some of the best few weeks of my life. My wife and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to welcome this little guy into our family. And we feel, like I said, very, very blessed. It’s been a very special time for my wife and I to do this and we’ve had help, her mother was here and my mother’s here now and so I’m still making sure that I’m staying up to speed on everything I have to do Saintswise, but it’s certainly added a different element of having the opportunity to go home following a day and to see this little guy

Earlier this week Drew Brees told us that I think he said quote, I’ have got nothing to lose. I’m on borrowed time. I’m just going to let it fly. You spend probably as much if not more time with him than anybody. Is he the same? Or is there something different that maybe you’ve picked up on that (he’s) got nothing to lose and he’s going to let it fly maybe in a different way this year?
“It’s a good question. Drew is the same guy every day that that I’ve seen in the four years that I’ve been here. I think drew has this this thing about him where you could look at him at any point in the game and you wouldn’t know if he’s up by 10 or if he’s down by 10 if they’re getting ready to have a two-minute drive during the football game, he is the same guy. So maybe I think his mindset is a little bit different knowing that he’s got nothing to lose. We’re obviously (going to) have a mindset and goal to go on win every single game that we play and, and there’s no secret that we feel like we have the talent to return to the playoffs and make a playoff run and go deep. But t0 answer your question, Drew’s mindset has been so good for so long that that he’s still the same guy. He still prepares the exact same way and he’s still Drew, there’s really been no one else that’s done it like him.

Speaking of that mindset, Jared Cook was just saying that he’s very patient in the pursuit of perfectionism, just when he’s bringing guys in and when there’s mistakes, like he doesn’t, you know, berate them or make them feel bad about it. And that’s different from some other quarterbacks. You see that to just kind of observing him when when new guys come in.
“I think drew has this really special skillset and uniqueness about him that nobody works harder than Drew. So when you come in in the morning, the first person you see is Drew and he’s watching film. And as we talked about, he’s been such a great mentor to me that I’ve had the opportunity to adopt his schedule and learn from him. I think Drew doesn’t have to say anything because the reality is Drew always knows his stuff because he works so hard he’s first one in and he’s the last one to leave in the morning. So I think the great thing about that is Drew never has to say anything. There’s an expectation that when you’re playing for the New Orleans Saints or if you step on the field and Drew’s your quarterback and he’s expecting to be there, you better be there. And because he puts in all the time, the energy to make sure he is doing everything he can for us to be successful, the expectation’s there, so I don’t think he needs to say anything in (that) people kind of put that that pressure on themselves, which it’s this unique thing that that allows Drew to make everyone around him better if that makes sense. So it’s kind of like I’m not mad, I’m disappointed type deal and when you do something well I don’t know. Drew’s such a nice guy, that he is never going to get mad at anyone, but I think everybody works hard. And I think here that if you’re doing something and you make a mistake, and you’re going full speed and you’re doing everything you can, no one’s upset about that. But what Drew will do is he will slow things down, and he’ll teach it and coach it to the point where it’s exactly where he needs it to be. But to your point, everyone puts that pressure on themselves to be essentially perfect. And coach says that all the tim, we’re not we’re not playing a perfect game. But he has this (perfectionist attitude of holding himself to a higher standard) really, the subtlety about it that is pretty unique.

It’s a little bit not football related. So bear with me, obviously you were such a kind of phenomenon and people are almost infatuated with what you did and how you did it. But in New Orleans, a lot of celebrities come here and say they kind of feel a sense of normalcy. Do people treat you and your wife normal again?
“I feel like it is no secret. My wife and I and our families felt a lot from this community. But people have always been very respectful of my wife and I, but they certainly will say hi, and I love it when people come and say hi and (are) very complimentary. So I would say that that that has not gone away. Which that is one of the great things about the city and playing for the New Orleans Saints is you have the opportunity to be part of such a fan base that is loyal, that loves you, that supports you and that hasn’t changed.

New Orleans Saints Tackle Terron Armstead & Linebacker Demario Davis
Video Call with New Orleans Media on #SayHerName campaign
Friday, September 11, 2020

Opening Statement: Demario Davis: “Well, thank you guys. As you saw with the release of our video, we have a campaign long plan for the season. With all this going on in our country around social justice, we want to meet as a group of leaders on our team and figure out a way we could all be on the same page around a uniting issue, in a way to uplift voices of disenfranchised. So what we chose as a group, was to focus on black women. We wanted to focus on black women because, as we see in Breonna Taylor’s case, when there’s so much emphasis around Ahmad Arbery, and there was (George) Floyd, she was often being left out of that conversation. Her killers, they haven’t been convicted. And so, we want to look at a deeper dive into so many stories like hers, where those voices aren’t being heard, and those cases aren’t being talked about. And in doing that, we realized there was a whole world of issues where, African American women were being left out. And so, not only will we raise awareness around the victims of police brutality, which is a much larger conversation, but specifically focusing on black women, but also, you know, other issues around black women, throughout the season. We are talking about black women in education, black women in healthcare. We’re talking about sexism, racism around black women, black women in sports media, and a whole gamut of other topics that black women have to face on a regular basis. And we believe that uplifting the voices of black women, we’ll uplift the voices of all women, and we uplift our country as a whole. So that’s the stance that we’re taking as a team and organization. And we’re looking forward to it this year.”

If you guys have something planned for Sunday, I don’t want you to spoil a surprise or anything like that. But we saw like, last night with the Chiefs-Texans, they did like a unity circle. Do you guys have anything in the works, maybe even with Tampa Bay or anything like that, that you are planning to do pregame that maybe people could expect?
Demario Davis: “So we will have a series of different things planned as you’ll see in the video. We have a specific gameday video presentation that will play inside the stadium. You know, without fans, we’ll be rolling it out in different ways, out on TV. A bigger vision of our plan when things clear up is to work more hand in hand with the families and support them and have them here with us on game day. And so, with COVID and all this going on around that, we’re still having to work through protocols and the plans. But we have a season long, kind of, campaign that will play itself out. Specifically, on gameday, with a specific rollout and some more surprises that people haven’t seen yet. And also we’ll have a weekly conversation and dialogue around these topics around black women. We’re going to have players sitting down with experts in these fields and black women talking about these issues.”

Terron Armstead: “And Andrew (Doak), as you were talking about the show of unity between the Texans and the Chiefs, what they did last night. At this point, we have not discussed anything, especially not with the opposing team, as of yet. We have got a few more team meetings left to see if we are going to do anything on that front. But as far as the campaign, as Demario was talking about, we have that aligned to be sent out every week.”

Do you think some of these uncomfortable conversations, if you want to call them that, I mean for lack of a better term? Do you think having some of those conversations head on with people of every different background and race within your own locker room has led to a cohesiveness that’s been real beneficial, that maybe you didn’t know what was expected, it could lead to that type of great progress, just from personal experience?
Demario Davis: “Yeah, I think exactly what you said about a couple of conversations. The conversations are not as uncomfortable anymore, they have been had on a regular basis. Every time we turn on the TV, you see conversations about race. At one time race was the elephant in the (locker) room, and it’s no longer the case. And it’s unfortunate that it took a lot of these prominent cases to rise, to happen at a time when we were all inside during COVID. And everybody was forced to look at the situation for what it was and call it what it is. And you have so many more people speaking out from all different backgrounds and being a part of the conversation there. Ultimately, it will take all of us to create real solutions and that’s what we want. We want it to go from conversations to solutions to impact, so that’s the plan.”

I know the Miami Dolphins announced sort of a dissatisfaction that there’s empty gestures by the league. I’m curious if you feel like you’re being given the platform that you want by the league, and by the Saints in particular? And if this is a way you guys decided to make it a meaningful way to take advantage of the platform that you’re given this year?
Demario Davis: “Yeah, I can’t speak to the league, as a whole but, all I can speak for is our organization the Saints. They have been nothing but fully supportive. We met offsite, as group leaders, as captains and talked about a plan that we wanted to do. From the head coach to the GM to Mrs. Benson, all they’ve done is pretty much say, “What do you guys want to do? We want to support it.” So they’ve been 100% supportive. This is a player led campaign. The organization has fully backed us, trying to find ways to amplify it on the platform, find ways and resources that we can connect in the community. And that’s what that’s really what you need to change, you need everybody, you need corporate, you need players, the community, you need everybody that has resources to come together and try to create change. And it’s definitely a blessing to be a part of an organization such as this, that supports the players and their aspiration and vision, and really supports the community and wants change. And I think that we can, that’s what ultimately we want to be, is we want to be an example or a light as an organization to others, that they can just take it and replicate it.”

Have you spoken with Breonna Taylor’s family about any of your initiatives. And then specific to Demario, I know that you went around the country when protests are still happening, but earlier in protests, this year. With those conversations you had with local leaders, did any of those conversations help you in creating or coming together with your teammates for this initiative for the season?
Demario Davis: “So, to answer the first question, we are working with AAPM, African American policy forum, I think, is the proper term for them. They are responsible for creating, hashtag #SayHerName, so we aligned with them. They were already, best guess, one of the biggest pioneers to bringing these cases to life. And so, they’ll have us in connection with all these families. They’ll be helping us pick, to which families we’ll be working with, such as Breonna Taylor. Connect us with those families, so that we have a good streamline of communication. And they’ve been great. Also, we’ve been working with the WNBA who, they’ve been a big part of this movement and especially with amplifying the voice of black women. And so, working with them has been another good resource for us. I think in regards to me traveling around the country, you have a great group of guys who’ve been involved in the community. You’ve got guys like Terron (Armstead) who’s doing his own foundation in his community. You’ve got Malcolm (Jenkins) of course, who’s been an activist for social justice, a leader in the social justice brand. Drew (Brees) who has always been great in the community and has grown even more in the black community, as of recently. And so, you’ve got a bunch of guys, Thomas Morstead, Craig (Robertson), Cam Jordan, Alvin Kamara. These are all the leaders that came together. So we have got a group of guys that have worked so hard in the community. And then, something hits that we all care about, all of those minds are coming together. So, this was a collective effort. This was a group of minds that thought about different ways we could come together and do something as a team. And it is been great working with this leadership group, not just on the football field, but off the field. And so, I’m just excited for what’s to come with this team.”

And this could be for either one of you all, but obviously the message you’re getting out is an important one, what do you say to the people who still don’t really get it and you know, don’t want to see this in football? What would be your message to them?
Terron Armstead: “Well, Demario said something a couple weeks ago, he expressed it, shared it on social media and also said it in a team meeting. He said; if you need more evidence and you need more, to see more, to hear more, then at this point, you’re part of the problem. It’s all out there, everything’s out that you need to be saying to take a step in the right direction of change. So, it’s at a point now, it’s a disservice (to) our families, our communities, to stick to sports. We have a platform, we have voices, an opportunity to be expressive. We need to call for change and not just ask for change. We are out here, doing it too, boots on the ground, trying to try to make some actual, noticeable change. So, at this point, there’s not much time left to waste and that is why we chose to be super direct with our campaign, specifically focusing on black women. There’s a ton of social issues and as we try to go through the social issues and chop them off, we started with black women and that’s why we’re super direct with it.”

I guess just was it difficult to hone in on that because there are so many different issues that you guys could have chosen to focus on?
Terron Armstead: “Yeah, and it was a series of conversations. A lot of minds. Everyone putting their input, everyone is voicing opinions and ultimately, it just seemed like it’s prominent that black women can be overlooked and left out, not spoken for. So, we definitely had to take a step to change that and bring that to the forefront.”

Is there a financial aspect to it? Maybe funding scholarships? I know Drew (Brees), Gayle (Benson) and many of you have donated a lot of money in terms of that. So, I was wondering if that was a part of it as well.
Demario Davis: “Yeah, we have a series of plans as far as funding goes, we’ll be doing a mass grant on our team that the players will be able to be a part of, the organization will be able to be a part of, the NFL has a matching grant, but we wanted to find a way to get the community involved. Everybody in New Orleans and a part of the New Orleans family, Who Dat Nation and anybody that sees what we’re doing and wants to be a part of it, we want them to understand that they can be a part of it and support, but we want the support to go to organizations like AAPM, that have boots on the ground and are experts in that areas that have been doing the work. We also want the support to be able to go to these families. There is no way to really bring justice to these families because justice would be bringing their loved ones back. We can’t do that so the best way to do that is, whether that’s financially, justice in the court room for their families, things of that nature and so, those are some of the plans that we have in place. You will hear more once we (progress) throughout the season.”

You guys kind of already touched on this a little bit, but just the commitment of time and keeping it an ongoing conversation and just making sure it doesn’t fade away through the season. Why was it important to do it that way? Instead of just like maybe putting some money on something?
Armstead: “Yes, it was important to us because though we play a game we love, we still have a tremendous platform. To whom much is given, much is required. There is so much going on in the world. We cannot be out just playing football with the world burning around us. We need to (have) boots on the ground. And when you think about something as prominent as black women, you think about the power of black women in the African American Community. Black men, raised by strong black mothers, having strong black sisters. Some of the most powerful people in the black community are the black women, grandmothers, mothers, whatnot, like they’re literally the backbone of the community. And so for them to be left out in the conversation, it’s an extra responsibility on us as black men to bring their voices and their lives to the forefront. But also as men in a society, we have a responsibility to our women. We should constantly be uplifting them, protecting them and putting them out front. It’s just the right thing to do and with our team owner (Gayle Benson), being one of the only (female) owners in the NFL, that’s even more powerful and even more reason to. We’re the right team with the right situation with the right group, why not us? I think in this time, we don’t want to be an organization or people who are asking other people to do something we’re not willing to do. And so I think the best way to bring change is to be the change and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

I could be totally overthinking this right now, but is the Lombardi like symbolic of anything with your message in maybe like a unifying message of multiple things, or is that just kind of random that it was there?
“You can take whatever you want to take away (laughter).”

Along with the message that you’re wanting to continue to help spread right now, like, seeing football on the screen last night given all that you guys have kind of gone through to get to this point and then also have the opportunity to be able to continue to spread your message with different things on the back of helmets and cleats and messages like you’re spreading right now, what did you kind of feel emotionally last night seeing football and having that as the vehicle, like, actually get to this point where the season was happening last night?
Terron Armstead: “It was definitely great to see the game back. As a fan, I’m a huge football fan, (I) always (have) been. So, just as a fan of the game it was great to see to see the sport comeback, see the live action. So many great players out of the last night with the Chiefs defending their Super Bowl run. Great to see that the sport come back. We can’t for once just, like I said, at this time, (with) the current state of the country and the current state of the world, we can’t just play football. We’ve got to continue to let the messages be known, let the voices we heard. But it was great, especially with COVID and everything and so much uncertainty coming into the year, (we didn’t know if) we were going to play this year. So to see that game take place and see a team 1-0 now, it was a great feeling.”

Demario Davis: “It’s good to have football back. It was amazing. I think we’ve got everybody excited that the game is back and rolling along and we’re ready to continue to roll along. But what was even more powerful to me and why I was encouraged (was) here you have the future leaders of our game in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, both the highest paid players in our game. Both are from the younger generation, here they are leading their team and sending a message to the world, one of unity, one of solidarity and when I see that it gives me hope. It gives me hope that the future is in good hands. Those are the leaders of our game. You look at them and even though they’re young, those are the future leaders. The game is going to be left in their hands and they’re doing right with their responses. You have got Miami, sending a strong message. I’m sure you’ll see a lot of teams doing stuff, but it’s just like Terron said, we can’t just stick to sports with so much going on in our world. With a lot of us being from this community, so many of us know what the right thing to do is. If you know right, you do right. I think that’s all everybody’s trying to do right now.”

How does it feel to finally have your platforms be so to open to allow you to deliver these messages after several years of having that struggle?
Davis: “Yeah, at one time a lot of these conversations were controversial. Not that long ago, the issues that are on the surface now that everybody’s talking about in this community was trained to talk about a very controversial issue at one time. That’s all Colin (Kaepernick) was trying to do was bring awareness to these issues and these issues are still going on. You have to be truthful, right? Not everybody wants to see these issues go away. Not everybody sees these black and brown people being killed (and they don’t see) the problem. In some regards, you have to understand that our country has gotten comfortable watching black people die and that’s the reality. Even in the face of leaders in our game standing out and standing unity and solidarity, it was in the midst of boos. We have to be honest about the conversation. I think players are standing up and standing strong. We’re not saying we’re going to change the world. We’re not saying that. All we’re saying is we’re not going anywhere. We’re not going to remain silent. We’re not going to go away. We’re not going to stop bringing these issues to the forefront. And I think that’s the resiliency that you see in everybody being that’s a part of the fight. And I want everybody from every community to be a part of that. Don’t go away. Don’t stop speaking up. Don’t stop telling your family members the truth. Don’t stop demanding more of your friends and your peers. Everybody has to be a part of the solution and until that happens, we won’t have changed, but I’m encouraged that so many people are coming to the front and not going away and not remaining silent, because it’s definitely for some change in our country.”

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, September 11, 2020

We’ve talked to a lot of people just about maybe a more unique challenge, preparing for week, one game this year, then another years, just because of the lack of a preseason. Obviously, they’ve got so much new personnel on offense. So what is what is kind of the toughest part of that?
“I think the biggest challenge is, is knowing they’ve got new personnel on offense and then just trying to determine exactly how they’re going to utilize those players. And so, you tried to prepare for what you’ve seen from Tampa in the past, as well as maybe some of the things that Tom’s (Brady) done, and Gronk has done in in, in New England and you really try to envision how that incorporates into the scheme that they’ve been running in Tampa with with Bruce Arians. I think it’ll be something that we’ll have to pay attention to as the game goes on and see exactly how everybody’s being utilized and the things that they’re doing. When you really look at it, you study it, there’s a lot of similarities and some of the things we’ve seen from Tampa and also some of the things that they did in New England, so a lot of it’s going to be just based on where are they deploying their personnel and how are they utilizing them? It is really just like, making sure you’re on your P’s and Q’s when it comes to like in-game rapid adjustments. We have certain things that we play defensively and there’s rules that are involved in that, in terms of how you make adjustments and things of that nature and so much like it would be in any game one. But you have to be able to utilize your rules for adjustment and go out and execute
Then Is there anything unique about it being Brady with the way you guys are preparing, like if this was a different quarterback in a week one game in this situation with no preseason? Would you look at the old team as much as you’re looking at the Patriots? This game?
“Well, I don’t know. I mean, that’s kind of a hypothetical question. It’d be hard to answer specifically, depending on who that is. But I do think when you have a quarterback that’s played at the level that Tom Brady has over the course of his career, and he’s been in one system. I do think you have to kind of look at that system and see where there’s some similarities. Those are probably some things that they’re going to feel really good about doing. But look, Tom Brady’s as smart as they come at the quarterback position and so there’s not a lot of things that he had done or a lot of things that he hasn’t seen. I’m sure his biggest adjustment is just getting used to the terminology. So at the end of the day, it’s football. We’ve got a job to do. We got to go out there and execute and try to do the best we can to stop these guys. What’s the challenge two running backs that are different Those two guys met so they can spread you out a little bit during the passing game going on the box. They’ve got good talent all over the field really. They get talent at the tight end position, they got talent at the wide receiver position, they got talent at the running back position. All of these guys have unique skills and things that they do really well. Just like we try to do the best that we can is we try to put our players in position to do the things that they do the best. And so we’ve got to anticipate that, try to put their personnel in those positions to highlight the things that they do really well and maybe limit the things that maybe they don’t do quite as well.”
How do you feel about the depth of your defense?
“Look, I feel good about it. I think this is a talented roster. I think it’s one of the deeper rosters that we’ve had, specifically in terms of the defense. And so we’re excited about what we have to work with. But at the end of the day we got to go out there and perform we got to go out there and play and so that’s really what it’s all about and look what better way to start the season then then this type of challenge against a talented team like we’re playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback.”
Can you talk about your defensive line rotation?
“I think it’s big and certainly I think it’s big as the season goes on. Having that type of versatility in that type of depth and in that position, I don’t think it’s any secret in football, that you’ve really got to control the game, you’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage, whether it’s with your offensive line or your defensive line. And so I think that’s where it all starts. And we feel good about that position. It’s about those guys going out and performing on a weekend and week out basis.”
In wanting more consistency from Marshon Lattimore, have you seen change in study, work or practice habits?
“I feel like he had a really good camp. I thought the way that he went out and worked every day the way he competed every day (was great). My thought is camp was outstanding and that’s what’s going to allow him to play to the level that he’s capable of playing at on a more consistent basis and so I feel like we’ve had a really good corner in him for the last three years, and I feel like that there’s still there’s still a lot of improvement that he can make and certainly I think he understands that and has really worked towards that throughout the offseason.”
Since they are close, has Malcolm Jenkins’ presence helped Patrick Robinson?
“Well, look, what I can say is this, I can say that, that I felt like he had a really good camp and was really productive both as an inside slot corner and play outside in the outside lane, so I thought he had a really good camp. To your point about Malcolm Jenkins I can’t speak specifically about P Rob, ut I do know that Malcolm does bring a sense of calmness and a sense of leadership in the back end of that defense that I think is going to be beneficial to us.”

New Orleans Saints Tight End Jared Cook
Video Conference with New Orleans Media
Friday, September 11, 2020

What are your thoughts on the social justice campaign on, say her name and just how important that is and why it’s important to the team?
“I think is important for the world to recognize that equality is a big issue, and not everybody having that equality. So I think it’s important to raise awareness just so you can get out and encourage change, encourage people to vote, and encourage change in laws and in legislation that’s going to affect all men and all people and all creeds that live in this country.”

How excited are you just about getting a chance to play a football game again on Sunday and also did you watch the game last night and what kind of emotions did you get just watching it considering where we were three or four months ago?
“Yeah, I’m really excited about the season especially, you know, just a few months ago we didn’t even know if we’re going to have one or not. And just a lot of guys making that decision on whether they’re going to participate or not, but for the guys in this building, and for me, I know I’m excited. I think it’s been a long offseason, just getting to the point to where it is now that I watched the game last night I watched a little bit of it. It’s exciting to see football back. And I feel like football among other sports is a game that brings people together. And that’s the importance of it all right, is to come together for a common goal no matter what’s happening outside in the world outside of all this, just to show that people can still come together and enjoy something and actually root for a common goal. It shows that we have more in common than not.”

Could you tell that there weren’t really a lot fans there last night?
“Alittle bit just because I’ve been in the sport, but apparently there was no problem for the players because I think it was a few false snaps or the center forgot to snap the ball one time last night. So I still think it had an effect to the game. I think it’s going to be a little different for us on Sunday.”

Obviously a team for the most part is intact from last year, but there are a couple of new faces on offense. And with those new faces obviously going to be some new wrinkles. Are you excited to kind of get out there and see how all those new parts and new plays and new everything kind of fits together?
“Yeah, absolutely. It’s cool going against our defense, but that gets old real quick just because and we get used to them and vice versa. But actually seeing our talent go against another team, I think that’s where the excitement comes in. And just seeing guys like, Emmanuel Sanders, join us, and (Adam) Trautman just get involved on Sunday and see how they interact, especially Trautman, seeing a young guy interacting in his first game and just see how it goes for him. I think is going to be exciting to just, (see how) we bring in guys to make our offense better and to make this team better. That’s what we’re looking forward to pick up where we left off last season and just go in stride and keep getting better as a team.”

As far as you guys going to practice every day being at the facility in the locker room do things seem as close to normal as you would hope for during a global pandemic like this?
“It’s still some oddball things like the COVID testing every morning and just seeing some staff members walk around with mask constantly. But inside the building things are as normal as possible. Now, there are some aspects of it that are completely different and just in terms of protocol, of outside sources, like if you have a massage person, if you have a stretch person, or if you have a third party that you deal with outside of the building that you get bodywork done, you have to be cautious in every step that you do, because you don’t want to be one of those guys that are that bring something back into the building that’s not supposed to be here now, I also think that things will get a lot different once we start traveling and we will see that with our first away game next week, but I think that’s going to be a true challenge in the traveling schedule to see how things go.”

Is there any protocol that you guys have your personal wellness people go through in order to make sure that they’re not, you know, seeing other clients and then bringing it back to you guys things like that. Is there any sort of protocol they have?
“They have (protocols). The saints are allowing them an opportunity to go and get tested outside of the building. I believe, maybe at a hospital, they’re setting it up for them, but uh, you know, they just kind of touched on it to just be extra careful and then they provide them with the access to be tested if need be.”

Do you ever wish you had more time preparing with Drew Brees prior to last season when you got hurt in training camp?
“Going into a season, it’s kind of difficult always to gauge that right. And to get out there when the lbullets are flying, and there’s a true competition going on. And there’s a team that’s really trying to knock your head off. So going into the season this is kind of difficult to tell. Now looking back at it, I think we ended up in a good position and actually had a good rapport towards the end of the season. Now you always wish that you could have those moments where you can get extra work going back and looking at it. But you just try to do the best you can and prepare for the weeks coming up and get your time in and those weeks. But going into it I feel like we did a pretty good job of of maximizing our time together and building a rapport last year.”

But my follow up question was going to be so how do you feel now one year into the system going into week one and knock on wood. As weird as this training camp has been?
“Everything seems to have gone really smoothly with injuries and time on the field and all of that so far. I feel good. As I said before, things were a little different this year, especially without us not having OTAs. And I think I think OTAs is a big opportunity for you to kind of slow down the game and just learn your new your new targets as a quarterback, and as a target learning your new quarterback and learning time and once you roll in the camp, things kind of click all cylinders, (work out) issues we had to maximize and squeeze all of that into one. So, I think we’re as prepared as we were going to be going into this game and I’m still confident that we’re going to be able to get the job (done).
I know a lot has been made about, at least for right now for most of these stadiums, not to have fans. But I wonder going into week one, I assume pretty much everybody’s jacked up to play their first game and I wonder if maybe Not having fans won’t impact the game as much as some of those that could be like down the line throughout the you know, the monotony of a season like once you get to like wheat fan or whatever, but you think that not having fans will be a huge impact. You think week wonder, do you think everybody’s going to be having so much adrenaline because they’re ready to play a new team this week?
“I think it’ll definitely have an impact. Fans motivate you. And fans also help, especially in a place like this when the dome is just a very loud place. It’s hard to hear when somebody is right next to you. So I think this is going to be definitely different, but as far as their offense coming in here, I think I think we’re going miss the fans quite a bit. I think you’re going to be able to hear everything they say. Crowd noise is 70 decibels but if you look at 70 decibels What is that? It really in comparison to 120 or whatever our stadium gets up to so I think it’s I think we’re definitely taking a hit in that department but I think it’s definitely going to be some to get used to at the same time I feel like it’s going to be quiet. I feel like it’s going to be like a practice. But we get to play ball again and it’s definitely going to be different for the defense. But we’re out here playing ball and I think that’s the best thing about it is we get to suit up and go out on Sundays and make this thing feel as normal as possible as a real game.

Just as somebody who’s played with a few different quarterbacks I’m curious with that chemistry building process with Drew Brees is like and if there’s anything unique about it, is he more patient than some guys?
“Drew is patient. Drew is probably as patient as any quarterback that I’ve ever played with in terms of just the preparation and, and talking things out. He explains things well, he really doesn’t get up in arms if you mess it up. Now on Sundays is different, right? I think it’s a little bit more intense, you see a little bit more intense Drew, just because on Sundays, we’re all expected to be as perfect as we can be and we’re held to a higher standard on Sunday. I feel like drew makes your job as easy as possible and that’s what makes him the best one of the best quarterbacks in this league. He makes your job easy. He goes out and he handles it. He communicates with you and he actually talks it out on how things are supposed to be. A lot of times when he gets mad at himself, he’s not really getting mad at you. His communication style is probably superb and in comparison to most quarterbacks, are there some quarterbacks that can make you feel tense? Like through some of that process just because of their the way they approach that perfectionism? Yeah, absolutely not. Not everybody knows how to talk and communicate, right. So a lot of people, their feelings overtake, their emotions overtake them in a negative way. But Drew does a great job of staying level headed, and just if there’s a mistake, he’s always like on to the next play. Even in practice, he’s always like on to the next play, on to the next play. And I think that’s important, especially in this league, because it’s so difficult for us as players to do that. That’s the hardest thing is to forget about the last play and go on to the next. And I think Drew does a good job of just pushing in people’s brains is hey, we still got a game to play. We still got more plays ahead of us. Let’s just go make a play now.”

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