Tue, 29 Sep 2020

New Orleans Saints taking excuse-free approach

New Orleans Saints
31 Jul 2020, 06:11 GMT+10

'It's got to be Super Bowl or bust, in all honesty'

Terron Armstead was speaking about the offensive line's collective ability to learn the complex play calls quarterback Drew Brees will unleash over the next month-and-a-half, but he might as well have been addressing the entire team's approach to preparing for the 2020 NFL season.

"We've got time," the New Orleans Saints' decorated left tackle said. "We have six weeks.

"That's enough time; the margin for error is just smaller. We've just got to be locked in every day to make sure we're being productive with our time. But we have time."

For some, that may be more than enough time.

"I mean, if you said, 'Cam, could you play this Sunday at midnight,' I guess I'd meet you out in the parking lot somewhere," All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan said. "I'm ready.

"I assume, the team meeting we had when (Coach) Sean (Payton) said, 'I want everybody to come in and be in their best condition in life,' I assume everybody met that memo. I'm talking to guys like (linebackers) Craig (Robertson) and Demario (Davis), they never stopped working.

"I FaceTime Craig and he's just getting out of a workout. I hit up Demario, he's still working out. So I know for sure guys are biting at the bit to try to get back in this facility to corral and win a Super Bowl. For veterans, guys know how to get ready and be prepared. For the rookies coming in, they're just going to have to follow veteran leadership."

Those two veterans, Armstead and Jordan, addressed the media via conference calls Thursday as Saints players, coaches and staff continue a week of COVID-19 testing prior to the players taking physicals and beginning working with weights and conditioning next week.

Armstead admitted that there still was a bit of uncertainty, as the team - and sports leagues, in general - is attempting to implement measures that never have been required.

"We're just trying to go with the flow and figure out exactly what we need to do, where we need to be," he said.

And there's a compressed calendar in which to squeeze in the learning, given that there were no OTAs or minicamps through which chemistry could be developed or enhanced.

"Just do our best to try to make up for those lost reps, that lost time," Armstead said of the offensive line. "It's great for us to have four returning starters, and a guy that I've heard a ton of great things about in (first-round pick) Cesar (Ruiz), to come in and be a quick learner and grasp the offense pretty fast.

"Even past the starting five we've got a ton of returning guys from last year, with a lot of experience and some really intelligent young men. I think we'll be able to take on the challenge head on. We're going to be rolling, working, try to get up to full speed as soon as possible. But we're going to get it done."

But that's balanced by the excitement of seeing teammates in person, possibly for the first time this offseason, as they report for testing.

"I'm probably more anxious about heading into camp, on different levels," Jordan said. "Just in terms of the guidelines, having 80 or 90 guys in the building. Openly anxious and excited just to get back to seeing other guys.

"I've been sort of in the building since March, rehabbing my core injury, so I never really left New Orleans. Me and the family stayed here, which was great in terms of training. I never really got out of shape; I feel like I'm in the best shape possible and at the same time, now things get kicked off.

"Hopefully we stay on the right path with the right procedures in place that I think the Saints have tried to put in place, and we're able to get through a season. Of course, I wouldn't say flawlessly, but a season nonetheless, in the best way we can to pursue this Super Bowl."

And, openly, the Saints are making plain that that's their goal.

New Orleans has won 37 regular-season games over the previous three seasons, tops in the NFL, and three NFC South Division titles. But it also has been eliminated in the Divisional, NFC Championship and Wild Card games in the playoffs.

"It's got to be Super Bowl or bust, in all honesty," Armstead said. "That's it. It's not really anything else past that. It's Super Bowl or bust."

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