Saints LB Demario Davis, punter Thomas Morstead virtual press conferences

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New Orleans Saints Linebacker Demario Davis
Microsoft Teams Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

How do you balance social justice advocacy with preparing for football season?

“Yeah, I just always try to use my platform responsibly. I’m a huge believer in whom much is given, much is required. So just understanding that a lot comes with a lot of eyes being on you, having a lot of resources, understanding where I came from the opportunities I have to be able to give back and help those who don’t have the same opportunities or the same access. It’s kind of individually my responsibility to make sure that that happens. I just think that’s the mindset that we as human beings should have. And so it’s a balancing act, you know, just like you have to balance your career with your family. You always have to find ways to balance your time with COVID-19 happening and us being forced to be indoors and just kind of away from the world and kind of the world sitting still. There were a lot more opportunities that presented themselves that probably wouldn’t have presented themselves had we had a normal schedule. And so I just tried to make the most of that. And now getting back in (to football), it’s another balancing act. Football is the main thing, (while) the platform gives me more opportunities. And so how do you transition your mindset to make sure that I’m keeping the main thing (a priority), but also not be so closed off that I’m not taking advantage of opportunities to help people.”

Did moving your personal trainers in with you allow you to kind of keep going through pandemic?

“It was good. I felt like how do you navigate training and getting in the best shape with COVID-19 and you can’t go to a lot of gyms, (they) were closed down and you couldn’t train as normal. We weren’t going to spend as much time around the team. So my wife and I felt it was best if I had the trainers move in with us. And so that way we could limit the amount of contact that we having with people on the outside and still be able to train to optimal level. And it was good so we got a couple of months out of it where my trainer was living with me and we were able to find ways to take our game to the next level.”

This offseason, you landed on the NFL Network’s top 100 list, do you feel like you finally have earned respect from around the league?

“I’m big on always counting my blessings. Last year I wasn’t on the list. So this year to be on the list is certainly a blessing. So I’m not going to take you know, that for granted in any regards. The way I view myself is extremely high. I’m my toughest critic, but I’m also my biggest cheerleader, you know, so in my mind it’s always more to accomplish or more, you know, it’s always a feeling of being seen accurately, you know, so I feel like I should be higher up on the list. But that’s just me personally. But at the same time, I use it as motivation. And I’ll always be able to find some type of motivation to challenge myself and trigger myself to go to another level. And that’s what I do with this. And so, you know, it’s great to be able to be on the list where I once wasn’t. I’m grateful for that. Anything that happens, I’m always going to give credit to the to the man I feel like he gave me the ability to do it, the Lord above. But other than that, I’m just going to find ways to challenge myself and not get comfortable. And I was like, 67 is too low. And so I’m just going to use that as motivation to prove that you can’t find a player like me inside of the game. So it’s the constant ability to prove that and I think me improving that, or chasing and proving that makes me better for my team.”

Can you share with us some of the tweaks you added to your workout regimen? And how has it evolved as you progress in your career?

“Let me see, I can do that without giving away all my secrets. I did a lot more water workouts this year because it was a way that I could train my conditioning and train my body at the same time because the water kind of recovers you at the same time that you’re training. So I was able to train in the water for two and a half, three hours and not be you know, so fatigued that I couldn’t work out the next day. And it was a lot of ways that we could train you know, above the water and train underneath the water, which was two forms of conditioning. So now my body has been conditioned. Also, I’m expanding my lungs as well. So those are one of the biggest ways, you know, being a player that plays 90 plus percent of the snaps, the longer that I can go at a higher percentage of my maximum ability, the better I’m going to be for my team. And so that’s that’s kind of how I took it on. There were definitely areas I thought that I could on top of having a good year in coverage, I could even increase and go to another level, also with my blitzing and angles and just find a way to impact the game. Creating turnovers is the area that my (position) coach challenged me this offseason. So I incorporated a lot of that stuff. And so it was a lot of things that I did differently because, you know, last year was a good year. But now when I watched the film, even in meetings now I watch the film and it was like dang, that player really wasn’t that good to me. I’m excited to see what I can bring to the table this year.”

So now that you and your teammates have been in the facility for a couple days now, what’s been one of the hardest things to adjust to with all of the new coronavirus safety protocols?

“I think the hardest thing is just being not to be able to be in close contact with your teammates and your coaches. It’s really like a family environment when you come into the locker room, especially this locker room. And so for us to kind of have to keep our distance. Have to joke with each other from a space. It’s just different. You know, I can’t really explain that to somebody that doesn’t see it on a regular basis. But I mean, you see how close we are and how bonded we are and how we joke a lot. And so now we have to do that and watch our space and we got these trackers on so it blinks when you too close to somebody. So definitely needed for the safety precautions, but it’s just different. You know, it’s hard to be an environment where people that you care about that you close with and you’ve bonded with, but you have to keep your distance.”

Yeah, I’m just curious about your blitzing, watching you it’s so effective. I’m just kind of curious about like your process there and how much work you put in to that aspect of your game?

“Yeah, it is so much more mental than it is physical. And that is what I think people do not understand. Like, yes, you can be fast and strong and even have good hands. And you need to train those things too. But so much of it is just about getting to certain spots before guys are anticipating you being at this spot and so understanding the angles and amount of steps and alignment that you have to be in. It’s kind of very similar to a basketball player. A basketball player just shooting shots, they’re getting two spots on the court to shoot. And so, pre-snap if I can get to a certain spot, it puts me in a better position to get to a certain spot. Like the straight line that come into place and getting there and that’s what allowed me to be successful and it takes it takes it takes a lot of time and a lot of studying.”

Are you confident that the NFL can pull this off and start the season on time as
scheduled right now?

“I think I’m about as confident as anybody else in the country is right now (and) around the world. I think everybody’s just trying to do the best that they can and process the things and the information that is coming to them. And, you know, I think the best thing that we can do is, you know, lean on experts and, you know, take the advice that they’re giving to us. As far as player, they have a protocol system and so I’m just trying to follow that protocol system as much as I can to be as safe as I can for myself and for my family and for my teammates and colleagues. I feel (as good) about it (and) probably about the same as anybody else. Thank you guys. You be blessed and stay safe.”

New Orleans Saints Punter Thomas Morstead
Microsoft Teams Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

I’m curious if you’ve decided to live in the hotel over the next month and weighing that decision for you?
“Yeah, so I am going to get (stay) in the hotel. I am not going 100 percent there every single night. There’ll be some times where I need to get home or need to help out, but I’m going to try and stay at the hotel as often as possible.”

As a representative of the NFLPA, what are your thoughts on what the league has done to sort of meet what the players wanted?
“Well, when you say what the players want, there’s a lot of players so there’s a lot of different wants. It’s always a complicated deal. It’s been a huge learning lesson for me the last two years with the new CBA negotiation that happened leading up to our deal in March and thinking we were done for a while and COVID hitting immediately and going through that process. Look, I’m personally thrilled with where we ended up. I know there are always going to be people that don’t agree with what the end result is. For players that want to opt out, they have that right. We’ve tried to provide the ability for someone to do that if they feel like that is the right decision for them and that family, but also at the same time, I think it is important that players don’t knock other players that decide they want to play, they want to take on the risk. We are all professionals here and so I think it’s important to (know) we did the very best we could to provide as healthy, as safe environment to work as possible, t least as far as the minimum standard for that. Then there’s obviously teams, if they decide, (that) can go above and beyond that. Obviously, Mrs. B’s agreed to put up our whole team and even more staff up in a hotel for the entirety of camp. We’re obviously grateful for that as well. I’m happy with where we ended up (in financial adjustment agreement due to pandemic). I think the potential drop in cap for next year and being able to set the floor at 175 (million dollars) for next year’s cap is a big thing and being able to roll that over four years, the losses, I think that was huge. We didn’t want to negatively impact one group of players over the other. So I think getting it spread out over four years was a win, and kind of, I guess, helped spread the equity of the loss across the group.”

Just as the father of school-aged children, what’s your biggest concern off the field in regards to keeping your family safe and do you feel like you have to look at this Fall as kind of a second self-quarantine period?
“Look, there’s a lot of questions that have still yet to be answered. I view this whole situation as just like it’s just the most layered onion ever, right? There’s so many layers to it. And so there’s certain things we haven’t even gotten to yet, right? My kids aren’t in school yet. We’re supposed to be having a meeting with teachers this week, to kind of figure out what’s happening? What are the details? Coach (Sean Payton) did a great job the other day in our team meeting just talking about would you treat now any different than if it was Week 17 and we had a chance to lock up the one seed. How would you view that in your mind as far as your behaviors? Would you be willing to miss the NFC Championship game or the Super Bowl because you were out taking any sort of chance to get COVID and you just have to be forced to miss the game. Things like that, I think really put things into perspective for us as players. Look, there’s so many things that we’re, at least my wife and I, are having conversations about and I’m sure other players with kids are having conversations about, it’s most important. We just don’t have all the information, especially me for my school week with my kids, we have not even gotten that information yet. I think the kids’ side is the toughest, because so many kids that are able to transmit it, you don’t even know they have it. That’s what’s the scary part is if there’s more likelihood of no symptoms, it’s a harder thing to manage. So we will have to wait and see and we don’t know there’s going to be a combo of virtual or if it is all virtual to start. I know some of it has to do with how the state’s doing and what the governor ends up deciding. So we are just going to have to keep reacting as new information comes along.”

Are you confident the NFL can pull this off and start the season on time as it’s scheduled right now?
“That’s above my paygrade. All I know is that we’ve done everything we can to provide as safe a working environment as possible. I don’t think anybody’s under the delusion that people aren’t going to get COVID. The idea with the testing is that we’re hopefully going to catch it before guys have a chance to spread it. I know people have kind of put a negative light on where the NFL is heading with what’s happened with some baseball. I don’t know all the baseball’s rules, but I know some of the things that happen with decision making aren’t up to us, right? It’s a third party, there’s a test, if you test positive, you’re out, right? You’re out of the inclusion with the team. That is yet to be seen, right? I think there’s always, as things change, as there’s more information that becomes available, or we see how this even (plays out), we’ve got 40 days until our first game so there’s a lot of time to see how this works. I don’t know what there’ll be, but I’m sure there will be changes as the season goes on, or as training camp goes on, as we kind of see the results of testing and what’s happening. That’s (where) we’re lucky, we get this big, drawn out period to do this before we even start a game. I’m sure there’ll be little tweaks and changes as it goes along, but I know everybody’s got skin in the game, it’s a business. Apart from that, I think we have an opportunity to provide a little (entertainment), we’re in the entertainment business, we have an opportunity to provide a little bit of reprieve from the stressful environment that we’re in right now when it comes to all the things that are going on in the world. I think we’re excited to hopefully provide that for our city and our region.”

This might be more of a kicker question than a punter question, but I’m just curious if like the atmosphere for you guys, the fans and everything ever creates nerves and if taking them out would maybe change anything about kicking or their punting and possibly lead to better efficiency since you guys wouldn’t be nervous maybe?
“Well, it depends on what your nerves do for you. If you are a guy that needs your nerves to play well, you may have guys that don’t do as well because they need that sort of (adrenaline). Some guys need that, some guys are looking to relax more and they don’t like it. We’ve got plenty of nerves when I’m sitting right here on the field and Coach (Sean) Payton is standing two feet behind me breathing down my neck. That is quite a bit of pressure when there’s no crowd noise or anything like that. Look, I’m sure there will be some players that do better than they have and I’m sure there’ll be some players that do worse than they have. Because you won’t know what makes guys tick and what kind of elevates or doesn’t elevate player’s performances until we get into that moment, but I’m sure we’ll see some guys have some seasons that they haven’t had in the good and the bad ways.”

Obviously you had a hand in working with the new Coronavirus protocols, but now that you have been in the facility for a couple days, what has been an adjustment, a tough one from just being there and having it be so different than it normally is?
“I don’t know that there has been a tough adjustment. I think the tough adjustment is in all the staff, it’s all of the trainers. In order to get X, Y or Z done, everything’s less efficient or it’s not as good of a product or whatever. There are just pieces to it that make everything a little more difficult or you have to go through a little longer process to set up. I think for us, it’s just wear the mask and socially distance yourself when you’re able to do that. I don’t sense my day has gotten more strenuous or tougher to do. I still can do everything I need to do. Be mindful of a few things, but it’s really, I’d say that the burden is on the staff and the people that are assisting us and so we’re really appreciative of that.”

This question is probably just a little bit off the wall, but just given the fact that you’re one of the veterans in the locker room, outside of (Drew) Brees, who has been with this team for so long, do you still have the desire every offseason where you want to come back at this point? Have you even stepped back and even taken a thought that maybe I’m near the end of my career, and maybe when you get to the offseason, that’s something that you’re thinking about? I’m not trying to date you or anything like that. I’m just curious if you still have that same energy and juice going into every season.
“I have got plenty of grays that are dating me so I am not worried about any words. Look, number one, you said am I concerned that I am towards the end of my career, and the answer’s yes because I love doing this. I don’t want to do anything else. I love the training (and) running, the grind of the workouts and as you get older, some of those things get harder. I have no intention of this being close to the end of my career. I don’t look too far ahead. I know it’s super cliché, I’ve been really fortunate to be around Drew and just watch him persevere and get better with age. It doesn’t mean that every piece of you gets better obviously, maybe at some point you don’t kick it as high or as far, but maybe your mechanics get more efficient, you become more consistent, you become more dependable. You become more accountable to the team and a better leader as far as how you mentor young players and helping them figure out what Coach just told him to do in the meeting. I remember feeling like that can be a blur for young players. At the end of the day, the answer to your question is, I love doing this job. I never thought I would, I was a walk on, no stars, I had to come back the second year at school and try out again first day of school. So like, I just wanted to have a chance to play on a Saturday, and to be sitting here and have been a part of such an amazing experience and then the call New Orleans my home, regardless of what happens moving forward in my career, it’s been awesome. I’m definitely afraid. I don’t know if afraid is the right word, but I feel like I’m more focused than ever, because I have a lot to lose. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I know if at some point it ended here, I think I’d have an opportunity obviously to go play elsewhere. I don’t want to do that. I want to be here. That all factors in and all I’m going to do is continue to try to find ways to add value to the team on and off the field and I’m just constantly pressing myself to do that. I feel young, I just got a good workout in so I’m good.”

Your numbers are really good. Going on year 12, I just always wonder.
“It is. Look, there’s no doubt there are certain aspects that get a little more challenging every year, but man, experience is a major thing and that’s another cliché thing that you hear people say or talk about, but it’s legitimate, right? It’s kind of like money in the bank that’s gaining interest in compounding every year. That same analogy for expertise as you gain experience and there’s almost no situation you could ever be in that you haven’t either been through or plotted or planned for. So just never being caught off guard and always being prepared, really serves someone like me well.”

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