Inside the Saints - August 6, 2005
By Frank Leon / ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Inside the SaintsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? WNSP Sports Radio Mobile, Alabama and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Inside the SaintsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? WGSO Sports Radio New Orleans
Another season of hopes and promises is underway for the New Orleans Saints and their fans. The coaches and players labor through training camp with the goal of finding the 53 men best suited to win football games in the NFL. The final roster will be a mix of players in their prime, long-term veterans, and younger players learning what it takes to achieve success in the league.
What follows are interviews with three such players, Deuce McAllister, Wayne Gandy and Adrian McPherson conducted after the August 5th morning practice. While the game is still football, the perspectives of players at three distinct points in their careers are unique.
Deuce McAllister, Returning to Form
I was impressed after practice with your increased flexibility. While you were on your back with both legs extended, Coach Gullickson was able to stretch your left leg back and over to where your left foot was over your right shoulder and close to your right ear. Is this something youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve done from day one or
Deuce: This is continuation of working on flexibility and trying to get better. The more flexible you are, the more versatile you are, because obviously youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re going to be able to do more things; open your hips wider and make you more explosive.
When it comes to the mental versus the physical aspects of the game, at this stage in your career is it more one than the other?
Deuce: ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s basically keeping your mental focus sharp. At this point in time you know what you can do physically and itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s basically getting your body prepared to go out and play sixteen games as well as the playoffs and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s where you have to try to mentally focus in and prepare yourself.
At this stage in training camp, is it a building process where you are trying to pace everything as you look forward to the season opener?
Deuce: In practice you go out and try as though it was a game. In that way, once you do hit the game itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s a lot easier because you are going to be sore, youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re going to have some bruises and bumps but the job is to go out and fight through it. A lot of times your leg hurts or your arm hurts and you might not want to practice but the way this game is played youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re never really one hundred percent except that first game, and sometime youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re not even a hundred then but your job is to go out there and perform so you fight through it and you get ready to play during the regular season.
Last year, all the rookies drafted made the team and this year looks to be another solid group. How is your leadership role affecting them as theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re coming along?
Deuce: Go out and work. I can teach them how to work, but itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s up to them if they want to learn. If any of them have any questions I can definitely try to help them as much as possible with what I do know. But itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s up to them to see exactly what they want to do and how much they want to learn.
Any goals for this season that you want to discuss publicly
Deuce: Obviously, I want to improve on the numbers that I had last year. Last year was a tough year for me, so I want to go back two years ago and improve upon those numbers. (In 2003, Deuce had 351 carries for 1,641 rushing yards and 69 catches for 516 receiving yards. In 2004 he had 269 carries for
1,074 rushing yards and 34 catches for 228 receiving yards)
Wayne Gandy, Maintaining Focus
After 12 years, whatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the difference these days with the kids coming into the league? What do you have to tell them, what do they have to do to make it?
Wayne: Stay humble, go out every day as a new day and try to get better and the biggest thing, and donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t let one bad play turn into two bad plays. Sometimes it snowballs and confidence is very fragile at this level. Young people today come in and most of them are arrogant. They feel like theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve already arrived. As soon as they get drafted they think ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve already made it,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? but they havenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t put anything into this league. If you donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t put anything in, you canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t get anything out.
At this level with thirty-two men in the entire world having a starting position, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s not about ability, but of something else to be successful. What is it?
Wayne: Whoever can hold their focus longest. Somewhere in our life we all got the same training with the same top programs, were high draft picks; made the best of the opportunities we get. So to me, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s always been a matter of who can keep their focus longest. Who is willing to hold onto running, lifting weights,
watching film, going out to practice and getting through the tedious things that come up every year? YouÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re never ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“thereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?, youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re never perfect. Every year is something that you have to get over and some guys feel like one good year, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢m in!ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? and they come back the next year and try to figure out ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“What happened?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?
ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s because theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re not focused and understanding that every year is a different year and you have to approach it that way.
IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢m trying to figure out ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“camaraderie and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“chemistryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?. We have talent. Every team does. What is your role in getting everyone to realize that this is a team sport and everybody has to be next to a guy trying to help him and not let him down?
Wayne: You hit it on the head. This is a team and you have to play as much as a team as possible. That doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t mean that periodically the individual doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t come out, but the 53 who can stay ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“53 peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? as long as possible usually end up on that big day in February, this year in Detroit. This team, when I got here three years ago was more individual. But itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s slowly has closed the ranks and you see different combinations of people talking. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s not just the receivers talking to receivers or linebackers to linebackers. Now itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s DBÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s and O-linemen and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s what happens when you start becoming a team and a family. Everybody knows something about each other. I think thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the ultimate goal of this 2005 season.
With free agency and jobs on the line every year, do you think that this keeps people from opening up and becoming the sort of team mate you describe?
Wayne: I think so. Free agency has its pros and cons. As a player, we can make money for ourselves and our family, but it does cause wrinkles sometimes in the fabric of team continuity. But I feel like, as personnel people, you find those guys that you already know are team oriented and try to get them in with
your team. You take a place like New England whoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the ultimate team right now. Even when they lose people they have so many other team oriented guys that if you were an individual when you came, youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re surrounded by so many other ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? guys that you become a team guy.
When talking about a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? and a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“team guyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?, is that basically a matter of trust and being able to look a guy in the eye and trust that heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the guy that heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s telling you that he is and wants to be?
Wayne: YeahÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â¦IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve got to understand and believe that the guy next to me is going to be on time, heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s going to do what it takes in the off-season to be in shape and get ready for the next season, and when we get on the field and some guy beats me, and heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s free, that heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ll go and make up for my mistake. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s what ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? is and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s what weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re trying to become.
Adrian McPherson, Learning What it Takes
In watching practice today, it looks like youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve got that quick flick in your wrist, your feet look good along with the ability to take the ball, drop and deliver it. What are you trying to improve on right now?
Adrian: The biggest things are the XÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s and OÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s of the game and the playbook. I feel like I have a lot of ability, but you canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t showcase your ability if you donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t know whatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s going on. So right now, IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢m trying to learn as much as possible as quick as possible and just try to get better every day.
Why do they have to make it so complicated?
Adrian: Oh, man! ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s because youÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re trying to win and the defenses nowadays are so good that you have to try to find little holes in the defenses and get the athletes the ball; find different ways to get those guys the ball. With the defenses being more complex these days, the offense has to have so many
Is part of calling a play these days being able to make that read and make an adjustment as the play is going on as opposed to Pop Warner when you would call a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“32ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬? and just hand the ball off to the 3-back to the 2-hole?
Adrian: I think so. I think thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the big deal along with the blitz formations and the audibles and the checks and different things as you were saying. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the main thing, because you want to get out of a bad play and make it a good play, and thatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s just knowing the playbook and knowing your audibles and checks.
I know you probably have some long term and some short term goals. As you stand here today, how are your goals being met?
Adrian: The biggest goal was just getting here. Now my goal is to stay here. So I want to continue to try to get better every day and learn everything that theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢re trying to teach me. And I think in the future great things will happen because IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢m willing to put in all the hard work to do whatever it takes to be successful.
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