New Orleans, La. - With two weeks of OTA's in the books and minicamp upon the Saints, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is becoming more comfortable with the strengths and weaknesses of his players. Below is Ryan's conversation with the media after Tuesday's morning practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
How do you work towards a more aggressive approach to the defense then it was last year? How do you begin to instill that kind of culture during a mini camp like this? Is there a way to do that?
"Well the first thing is we are working against the number one offense in football. They have the (some of the) best coaches. I think Sean Payton, Pete Carmichael, and (Joe) Lombardi are three head coaches. So we have our work cut out for us not just coaching wise but playing wise. There's a lot of talent over there. We have to do a better job than what we did today. We had some substitution problems which seems to always follow me on the first day of a minicamp but that's just who I am. We will run multiple personnel groups and sometimes it takes a couple of days to figure that out, but I am excited with our guys. They play hard and have been well-coached so it's an easy transition."
What has Rufus Johnson showed you so far?
"He is doing well. He is a big, young kid and he has a lot to learn. We are playing this young kid from Tarleton State and changing positions is the first thing he is doing. So, he has a lot on his plate but talent wise and physically, this kid is going to be good."
You guys looked at defensive backs early in free agency and even after you signed Keenan Lewis, you guys kept looking at more. To fit this system, did you want to target more depth, more physical corners? Is it part of your defense to have a lot of guys available?
"The way the game is played nowadays, you need to have multiple players. I think, if anyone follows me, we were number five in the league ten weeks of the season until every single player on the team was hurt and I got fired. We should have been number one but I learned that you can't have enough good players. We have a lot of talented guys here. This secondary is extremely talented, probably the most talented group that I have been a part of, but that still doesn't mean we don't want more. We always want more players and that's what gets you beat and fired when you don't have enough.
What do you think about some of the guys getting interceptions today? Is that a good sign to see right now?
"Absolutely. We are going up against the number one offense in football and like I say, they have the best coaches over there. Pete Carmichael and (Joe) Lombardi are outstanding and are future head coaches in the league. We are just going to battle them every day and see what happens."
Talking about Junior Galette, what did you see in him to think he could make that transition to linebacker?
"He is a smart and hardworking kid. He has come such a long way with Bill Johnson. We are excited about him and his progress. He is working really hard, competing and that's everything we like."
How hard is that transition to make?
"I think he knows football so it's not as hard as you would think. I think it's hard on a college player when they come in and they don't know anything about the National Football League. Now they have all of these moving parts and that's a real chore but I think a smart guy like Junior (Galette) can handle this and Will Smith (as well). Both have done a real fine job (and) they are working hard. We have a lot of football in here. We have a lot of defense in. We may not have had a lot of practices in, but we have a lot of defense in so they have done a good job mentally."
On paper, what is the ideal outside linebacker for what you are looking for?
"DeMarcus Ware. That's what we want (in terms of characteristics). That's the guy."
Is that an example of the ideal skill set?
"Absolutely, skill sets, size, strength, speed, he has everything. He led the league in sacks and would have done it again (in 2012), but he got injured. So that's obviously the guy in mind (when you evaluate outside linebackers in a 3-4). That's the guy you measure (other players up against)."
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