ML: “We’ll have some guys that won’t participate in the (New Orleans) game; that’ll be Dan Santucci, Ben Utecht, David Jones, Brandon Johnson, Evan Mathis, Antonio Chatman and Pernell Phillips. Getting (Keith) Rivers back out there this week has been good, and we will make a determination of what to do with Rey Maualuga later on. If not this week, he will play next week.”
Q: Is this a good first test for you, considering New Orleans’ highly ranked offense?
ML: “It’s a really good test. A year ago, their season didn’t finish like they wanted it to finish. They have a group of fairly experienced guys, they have a lot of guys that have played for other teams, and their style of offense puts a stress on what you’re going to get as far as screens, draws, reverses and bootlegs. We will just have to see how it unfolds.”
Q: How much work will Antonio Chatman need to put in to get back in the mix?
ML: “Every guy has to get on the field in order to make the football team. That holds true for anybody that is injured.”
Q: What do you want to accomplish overall against the Saints?
ML: “You want to play fast, play physical. Defensively tackle the football, dictating the passing game and where the ball goes. Offensively controlling the line of scrimmage, and in special teams, being sound and executing your assignments.
Q: Carson probably plays 12 or 15 snaps; what’s the status with other first-teamers?
ML: “I decide that as we go. I don’t want a guy worrying about how long he’s going to play; he’ll play until I take him out.”
Q: Are you excited to see them get out there for their first real test?
ML: “It’ll be a good test. It’ll be a good time for them to play together. It’ll give our backs a chance to carry and run the football, and I’m excited to see what they can do.”
Q: With depth at the running back position, will you decide who plays on a game-by-game basis?
ML: “For the most part, they will all get an opportunity to play on Friday. As we go, I may take a longer look at players in that position because everyone has accomplished something here or at some point along the way. So I’m anxious to see how they will perform in a game.”
Q: How has Jason Shirley responded to being placed on the other side of the ball?
ML: “He has really embraced that opportunity, and proved that maybe he has some value to stay here and be a developmental guy over there on the offensive side. He’s trying to study and get up to speed as quickly as he can, I don’t know if he will get the chance to play on the offensive side any this week, but he may take some snaps on the defensive side.”
Q: What made you decide to move him from defense to offense?
ML: “In order for him to have an opportunity to stay here in the NFL, his best bet, at least on this team, was to make that move. As we looked at him and watched him, he does things that are more characteristic of an offensive lineman than a defensive lineman, and maybe there’s a niche for him there.”
Q: Is it difficult to prepare for the Saints because they have a new defensive coordinator?
ML: “We would go ‘vanilla’ anyway. We’re not going to spend a lot of time game-planning for an opponent in the preseason. You want to have our guys get out, play and react, and move forward that way.”
Q: So it doesn’t matter if you face a 4-3 or a 3-4 front?
ML: “No, it doesn’t matter. It’s just an identification thing.”
Q: Other than the actual game pace, will this preseason game give you a look at a situation or position that you may have missed before?
ML: “You get a new look at the entire team, because you have to play live football. You don’t take guys to the ground in the NFL in practice, and to have to finish a block or make a tackle, the preseason games are a first time to do that. Special teams is the same thing, you want to eliminate fouls.”
Q: There has been talk that the preseason may be reduced in the next couple of years, what is your opinion?
ML: “It’s not my (place) to have an opinion, so it doesn’t really matter. We will do what we are supposed to do.”
Q: How is Brian Leonard doing; has he separated himself at all from the competition for No. 2 RB?
ML: “I wouldn’t say that anybody has separated themselves from anywhere. We’re going into the game, we’re going to play and move forward that way. Brian has done a good job since he’s been with us, he’s learning what to do and he’s a guy that I’m excited to see. I’ve seen him on tape, but haven’t watched him play live. I’m hopeful that he will do well.”
Q: With Chatman out, you’re going to have some different punt returners to take a look at:
ML: “We will probably have three or four guys get an opportunity to get into the game. We’ll have the chance for DeDe Dorsey, Tom Nelson, Quan Cosby and Bernard (Scott) to have an opportunity to return punts and kicks.”
Q: What does it mean to have a healthy Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom out there?
ML: “I don’t know how many games last year they were able to go out on the field together, so it will be a good thing defensively to have them both there.”
Q: What has Tank Johnson’s presence meant to the defensive line?
ML: “Tank is a very talented player. He came from the University of Washington. He came into the NFL and he’s had some success, but he also had some things that knocked him sideways, and he’s rebounded and recovered from that. He’s a very smart guy, so he is going to add a lot. He has a lot of fun and he’s good for the football team, but when it’s time to work, he has worked his tail off. Even though he’s new, he has been a good pacesetter for that group.”
Q: What do you think about Robert Geathers?
ML: “He’s got incredible physical ability. He can demonstrate it; he can play on his feet. If he can continue to stay healthy, he will be really helpful.”
Q: What have you seen from Jordan Palmer in the year that he’s been here?
ML: “The more time he spends on the field, the better he exhibits being a productive quarterback in the NFL. He’s a hard worker and he accepts his responsibilities and approaches everything very professionally.”
Q: What do you see out of fullback Chris Pressley? He’s an underdog story but has had trouble getting snaps with the guys ahead of him:
ML: “Probably the same things we see from the two guys in his spot right now. Chris has done a good job, and like everybody, he’s a guy that has to play live. In camp you don’t get to play live as a fullback, that’s something you have to do against guys in different color helmets to prove your worth.”