Q: Do you remember the last time you had everyone in camp from day one?
A: "Yes, but I was in Seattle. However, Donte' Stallworth really had agreed to terms before we started practice. I don't know if you guys remember, but there were some logistical issues and he didn't get here until three in the morning. The logistics made it impossible for him to get to that first day of practice. I don't really count that as a holdout."
Q: Do you consider it an accomplishment that all of your guys are ready to go day one of practice?
A: "Well, that's what your goal is every year. So, I guess so. It's what our goal is. It's more of a sense of failure when you don't get it done than sense of accomplishment when you do. I know it puts our coaches in a tough position if they don't have everyone present and ready to go at that first practice. We always feel bad because we know that those are the guys who feel the most affected by it."
Q: Jammal (Brown) said that he heard the deal had been done at 3 o'clock in the morning? Is that something where Russ (Ball) and his agent just stayed up until it got done?
A: "Russ (Ball) was here all night. Like I said, he was very diligent. He does a great job with every deal that he has worked. It's important to him to get it done as soon as possible and have Jammal make that first practice. It was a good job."
Q: Him (Jammal) being here for the last four weeks, is that a sign that he really wanted to get this done and be here for day one?
A: "I got that sense really from all of the guys who we drafted this year. The last two classes that we had have been really mature groups of guys, and that is reflected by them wanting to be here and wanting to stay around to get prepared to face training camp. That goes for Jimmy Verdon, Adrian McPherson, (Jason) Jefferson, and (Josh) Bullocks. All of the guys have exhibited a high level of maturity in this class and last year's class as well."
Q: What do you like about Jammal Brown, having seen him on the practice field and getting to know him over the last few months?
A: "He's everything that we thought he would be and a little more so far. He did a great job, and all of our guys did a great job in the off-season, the rookie camps, the mini-camp, and the OTAs. But, all that doesn't mean a lot right now. What's important right now is what they do in this training camp and the preseason to get prepared for the long, tough season in the NFL. The jury is definitely still out."
Q: Do you attribute the fact that Jammal's number, especially in bonuses, is a lot higher than the guy in his spot last year to the fact that he was the first guy drafted at his position?
A: "No, I don't. I don't think it has anything to do with that. As these deals come in it will be very similar. The increase from 2003 to 2004 is going to be very similar to the kinds of increases you are going to see from 2004 to 2005. I don't think there is anything extraordinary about the deal. Every year the money goes up with these first round picks. It definitely did go up from last year to this year, but all the deals in the first round are going to do that."
Q: Is Chase Lyman here?
A: "No, Chase is not here. He'll be here during this camp. I talked to his agent a number of times and there is not going to be any problems with the contract. We're going to hold off on getting him signed until a little later in the camp."
Q: Will you continue negotiations with a few of those veterans that you talked to this summer, namely LeCharles Bentley and Mike McKenzie?
A: "I'm sure we are going to have some discussions with those guys. I'm always getting calls".
Q: The other day you said those specifically were guys you would like to get something done with. Are those guys who you are going to actively try to get something worked out with in the coming weeks?
A: "We're going to see where that goes. That's probably the best way to describe it. Obviously, we have had some discussions with Mike's guy, and we've had some discussions with LeCharles' agent. We'll just see where it goes."
Q: Have you gotten a report on the weight of Johnathan Sullivan?
A: "He did weigh in. I'd rather not say what it was, but it was very good. We're really pleased with where he's at right now. We'll see what kind of physical condition he is in when he gets on the field, but in terms of weight, he lost weight."
Q: Is his weight any less than the 337 that he weighed in at the start of the off-season workouts?
Q: Is this the lightest that Sullivan has been since he has been drafted?
A: "I don't know the answer to that. I don't put too much stock into the fact that you come in at a good weight. That's not the whole story. How he practices, the things that he does during the preseason, we'll see, but he's had a good off-season. He's done a lot of good things. I'm encouraged, but again, that's not the end all. The end all is how he performs during the week and obviously during the games."
Q: Was Sullivan's attention was attracted by being inactive for the final six games of the season?
A: "I know it got his attention, but the goal, the deactivations, Jim's (Haslett) just trying to get the best guys on the field to try to win the game, regardless of who it is. Obviously, at the end of the season, Johnathan wasn't one of those guys, but he's got a chance to rebuild his career with us and become the kind of player that we know he can be. I think he's off to a pretty good start."
Q: Do you notice a better sense of professionalism from Sullivan?
A: "Yes, but again, now is the time we'll find out over these next few weeks. Training camp's not different from the off-season conditioning program and the OTAs and the minicamp. Now is when he really needs to show us."
Q: Is the team in good shape under the salary cap or do you anticipate having to do any restructuring of any contracts?
A: "We're not anticipating that. There's a lot of things yet to be determined. We have to deal with injury issues. We have to deal with our practice squad that we plan for and there's some things that can affect where we think we're going to be. Right now, I'm saying we're not anticipating having to redo any contracts."
Q: Is it coincidental or circumstantial that this was not an off-season of many distractions?
A: "Obviously you always want to have an off-season like that. You want to have positive things happen. I do think that we've tried to get the types of players that are going to be professional, that are going to have good character, that are going to handle themselves in a professional way and represent the Saints in a way that we want them to be represented and our guys have done a real good job of that. I'd say it's somewhat by design, but once again, things happen sometimes that are out of your control. We've been fortunate this off-season to not have anything that's been a distraction."
Q: Do you foresee a new contract getting done with Mike McKenzie?
A: "I think it's possible. Again those things are two people have to make a decision there. I can only say from my side that we'd like to have a deal done. We'd like to have a deal done with LeCharles and Fakhir and all the guys that would like to be here. If they'd like to be here, we'd like to have them here, but that's only our side of it. We have to come to agreement in terms and obviously with those guys, we haven't been able to do that yet."
Q: Have you budgeted with the intention of working things out with these guys?
A: "We have constraints. There's possibilities. That's the best way to describe it without giving away too much."
Q: Do you consider Mike McKenzie to be a good player?
A: "He's an awfully good player. This is an area I don't like talking about the negotiations; I don't like talking about positions, because I don't think it's productive to getting the deal ultimately done. I've said this before, salaries whether we're talking about your or me or players, they're personal issues for these guys. It's a business issue for us at the Saints when we're negotiating the deal. It's a business issue for us, but a personal issue for them. I think we always have to be sensitive to that. Frankly I don't like talking about that. I don't like talking about that in the media, because you guys interpret it on your own and you write it with your view interjected in that. I don't like talking about it, because obviously I can't control what you write or what you say in your broadcasts. That's why I'm really evasive about these negotiations and about talking about specific players, until they're done. I don't mind talking about the process. I've always felt like it's not really fair to the players or to us to have a lot of discussions about negotiations and what's really happening."
Q: With holdouts seeming to be a trend aground the league, as a general manager, how do you feel that your team is not facing that?
A: "It feels like there's been a spike in holdouts, as well as the threat of holdouts for guys that are already under contract. Holdouts when guys don't have contracts, that's another issue. Players are not obligated to be there. I understand that they're trying to get the best deal they can."