Head Coach Jay Gruden
On practice participation:
"Did not participate was: non-injury for Crowder, personal reasons; and then Jordan Reed, hamstring; and Trent Williams, knee. I have a bunch of limiteds. You'll get the report here in a minute. If you have any questions about anybody, I'll let you know how they're doing. [Ryan] Grant is still in the concussion protocol, [Zach] Brown with his Achilles, so on, so forth."
On if he expects WR Jamison Crowder to return tomorrow:
"Yeah, he'll be back."
On TE Jordan Reed's progress:
"He's progressing. He was with the trainers today for the most part. Said he had a good day, we'll see how he does tomorrow."
On T Trent Williams' status:
"Yeah, it's going to be a week-to-week thing for him, for sure. The challenge will be Sunday, Thursday, Thursday. The next three weeks will be a challenge. Hopefully we'll get him this week, then take it week by week."
On planning practices for three games in a short span, especially for a team with so many injuries:
"Yeah, we're OK right now. We have guys on a limited basis but we have enough bodies [that] we're having good practices. And then after this game, we'll adjust the schedule – probably shorten practice, maybe a walkthrough-type tempo and go from there, get ready for the Thursday night game."
On RB Samaje Perine's improvements:
"Well, I think he's getting better looks. The more you see in practice and the more you get in a game, the better you're going to get. He's a guy that never ran out of the I-formation in college, so this is all new to him. He's good out of the shotgun, but we've just got to keep giving him the ball. Like I said the other day, I think he's a guy that'll get better with more carries. He's such a physical guy that I think the more carries he gets, he'll wear down a defense. He's not so much a spell guy, he's more of a 'run it, run it, run it,' type guy. Hopefully we get him some reps, get a great look at him, and he performs well, which we think he will."
On Perine's ball security:
"He's had two missed hand-offs. I think the exchanges are the issue, the tracks. Not necessarily all his fault, sometimes the quarterback might've been a little bit too tight. But we've got to get that cleaned up. Time will tell on that but I think we've got it fixed, hopefully."
On if there are benefits in facing a difficult early schedule:
"Well, I don't know. We'll see. I think every team in the NFL has serious weapons and things to… you have to prepare for, work toward. Just when you think you're not playing somebody that's not very good record-wise, they have a lot of talent and good coaches. This is a week-to-week league, for sure. We know we're playing against a team that's won seven in a row, and they're playing excellent football on both sides of the ball and special teams. But as far as how that will treat us later in the season, we'll have to wait and see."
On the decision to sign RB Byron Marshall:
"Yeah, we did some work on him. Our scouts did a good job on him and sent the tape to [Running Backs Coach] Randy [Jordan] and made the decision that he was our top guy. He does a little bit of everything. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he's thick, he's 215, 220 pounds. He played running back in college, played receiver in college, did some good things on tape in Philadelphia in the preseason, so that's the guy we went with."
On the difference in New Orleans' offense:
"They're balanced and I think they're running the ball extremely well. They have two powerful guards in [Andrus] Peat and [Larry] Warford and [Max] Unger is doing a good job at center. And then the backs. They have a good combination with [Alvin] Kamara and [Mark] Ingram, obviously. They do a good job of mixing it up, and that opens up the play-action passes with [Ted] Ginn, taking the deep shots and [Michael] Thomas across the middle, and obviously [Coby] Fleener. So they have some great weapons across the board. Kamara is another great threat out of the backfield. They do jet sweeps, screens, all that stuff. Very balanced football team. They're playing with a lead this year a lot more as opposed to last year and the year before. They were playing from behind because their defense wasn't very good, so they were very pass-happy. You see the same situation with us from time to time. But when they play with the lead or close, they're very balanced and Sean Payton does a great job of calling plays."
On DL Matt Ioannidis's hand:
"He had a nice club on today at practice. Limited basis but he looked good. Hopefully uses that to his advantage… Be like 'The Longest Yard' [laughing]."
On if Ioannidis could be available Sunday:
"Yeah, we hope so. We'll see. He's trying it out, felt pretty good today. We think he's got a chance."
On New Orleans's defensive success this year:
"They're doing a good job in the running game and they're getting you in third down and they're very good on third down. Third-and-short, they're excellent. Third down, they're doing good. They're very multiple in what they do. They jam fronts, double-As, and a lot of different fronts that you have to deal with. And then they're playing great man coverage. [Ken] Crawley, I don't know how to pronounce it, him and the first-rounder over there, they're very good. They're very good corners and they're getting good secondary play along with the pass rush."
On differences in LB Martrell Spaight's performance last week:
"He just came in, he was fresh-legged, had a lot of energy. That's Spaight's strength is he comes in and provides spark with great energy, plays fast and he's a physical guy. Now it's a matter of him and Zach [Brown] meshing well together from here on out because those are our two linebackers. And Josh Harvey-[Clemons] is now number three, we signed [Zach] Vigil to be number four. Vigil helps out on special teams quite a bit, but Spaight and Brown, they've got to lead the show, run the show."
On what he remembers about QB Kirk Cousins' performance the last time they played the Saints:
"I don't remember anything about that game, quite honestly. I didn't even watch that tape. I know he played well in that game. We had a great day. That was a great afternoon here at our home game and guys played well, but they're a totally different team as we are, and they've improved greatly."
On what he's seeing from WR Maurice Harris now that eyes are on him:
"Yeah, he's always been a great competitor in practice. In training camp, he was making plays. It just went unnoticed by a lot of people, but not by us. He's a great all-around football player – very quarterback-friendly. He's where he's supposed to be. He just doesn't there quite as fast as a lot of guys, but he's got great change of direction. He knows how to set up the DB. He knows how to read zone/man. He can play everywhere. And he's a great blocker, so he's another great weapon for us to throw in the mix."
QB Kirk Cousins
On if he has a relationship with Saints QB Drew Brees:
"I just had an opportunity to get to know him at the Pro Bowl last year, which was a fun experience. I've just always admired his career going back to his days at Purdue – the way he has handled adversity, the way he's carried himself with class, the consistent production year-in and year-out. He's stayed healthy. He's just been a consistent force there for the Saints. I love his game and the way he plays and I've been able to learn a lot from him, just from a distance, watching film and studying his game."
On if he can model his career after what Brees has done in New Orleans:
"I think the goal is to just watch other guys and how they've had success and study their game. He plays with such a good base and he's got great accuracy. He sees the field well, has good athleticism, moves around well, avoids sacks, completes a lot of passes. And so all of those things are things you say, 'That's a good recipe for success, a good model for success.' I think in that sense, you do try to pattern your game after great players like that."
On how he can simulate a live pocket:
"Good question. That's the question I've asked myself a lot, because you can't go to the local park and play 11-on-11 football, unfortunately, like you can if you're an NBA player … you can go to the gym and play pick-up basketball and still get a decent feel of the flow of going up and down the court and playing the game. Not the case in football, and so your best chance away from practice is to have a coach throw a bag at your feet and get as close as you can, which still isn't very close. That's why practice is so valuable. That's why two-a-days are valuable. That's why OTAs are so valuable. You try to get a feel for it – and why game experience is so valuable and why as players play more in real-time games, they play better and better and better, because it's hard to simulate that in other situations."* *
On if he sees his throw to WR Josh Doctson any different after watching it on tape:
"I saw it correctly on the field in the moment, but what I did was, I was nervous about the safety being able to redirect – I call it a baseball turn – and go back and intercept it and he really wasn't able to when you watched the film. That's maybe a situation where I'm being overly cautious trying to prevent the critical error by throwing the ball deep enough to where I know the safety can't make a play, but our receiver also can't make a play. Had I left the ball shorter where I would have wanted to throw it, the safety wasn't going to be there and you'd like to think it could have been a touchdown. And on the field, I didn't throw it there because I was nervous about the safety getting over there, so that's where you go back and watch the film and realize, 'I'm giving them too much credit,' and you can put that ball in there and it would have been a potential six points."
On the progression he's seen from RB Samaje Perine:
"I think confidence is always going to be a big trait as you play longer in this league and he's become a more confident player as he's gone through different experiences. I think he's always run the ball really hard and I think he does a great job with that – I told him so after the game against the Vikings. Catching the football, he's going to get more and more opportunities to do that and gain more experience. He had a great play down the right sideline against the Vikings on Sunday. So just continue to give him those opportunities, those experiences, and I think the pass game is really the growth that a running back needs to take when he first shows up in the NFL because of how many pressures are being thrown at them and how much responsibility we place on a running back in pass protection, and those are the places where he can grow and will grow. He has all of the tools, all the hardware, to be able to do that and become a really complete back in this league."
On if exchanges with Perine will improve now that he is getting first-team reps:
"I would think that that will get better as we work together longer, that he'll get a better feel for how each exchange looks and I'll get a better feel for what he needs. Those are certainly the kind of errors that can quickly change the course of a game and so they need to be avoided at all costs."
On WR Maurice Harris and what it means to be a "QB-friendly receiver":
"I think QB-friendly receivers are guys who make a quarterback more accurate by the way they track the football in the air. They attack the football with their hands. When they're covered, they can still come down with the ball in a way that the stat line shows that it was as if he was wide open. I think I've always felt that Maurice is that, as well as another guy who stands out in that way uniquely is Jamison Crowder. I've always felt like Jamison at times makes me a more accurate quarterback with the way that he tracks the football in the air. Those are skills that have to be developed and take time and some guys have it a little more naturally than others, and I think Maurice and Jamison do have a unique trait there in the way they can be QB-friendly. But we have a lot of guys that, you know, you think of Josh Doctson and you think of our tight ends – Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis – we've got a lot of guys that can make a quarterback look pretty good."
On if there is a benefit to having a tough early schedule:
"I think time will tell if that challenge that we've had the first nine weeks of the season, 10 weeks of the season, if that will benefit us in the second half. I don't know, but we've stood toe-to-toe with a lot of good teams in this league. We said it before we ever played a game that the margin for error is very small and the difference between teams that go 10-6 and 6-10 is very little. We knew that going into the season and, unfortunately, in some of those tight games we've come out on top and some of them we haven't. Hopefully here in this stretch of seven games, we can be the ones that come out on top."
On the change in the Saints' defense this year:
"Well, I think they're well-coached. I think it's a good scheme. I think they're creating pressure. It seems like they're getting after the quarterback, batting a lot of passes down at the line of scrimmage. It seems that their secondary is covering very well. They're creating confusion. They're changing up their looks and just kind of creating chaos and that's what good defenses do. It is going to be a challenge, especially in their environment and their stadium, to be on the screws and make sure we're all on the same page."
On if he needs to change any part of his game when a team is adept at batting down passes:
"No, I don't know that I change a whole lot. I think the things that you want to do to try to help with that are the things you do every week – negotiate arm angles, hold your eyes, don't stare down where you're throwing, have a quick release. I think those are all things that I do pretty well. I think I have a quick release. I think I can move my arm angle to make those throws and so I think those are the same things you try to do every week."