“It just so happens that Brees does offseason throwing at a San Diego-area high school where Clark got a job about two years ago as a wide receivers coach. Brees noticed Clark working out there last summer and asked him if he wanted to run some routes. They did not work together very much last summer, though, because Brees, as a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, was traveling a lot for talks aimed at resolving last year's lockout.
This offseason, however, Brees was staying in San Diego while holding out for the five-year, $100 million contract he wound up signing earlier this month. He ran into Clark again, and invited him to rejoin his workouts. This time, Brees noticed how Clark seemed to catch every ball and began to wonder if he'd somehow "slipped through the cracks."
After further working out with Clark, Brees was amazed that this former small-school athlete had been overlooked.
After Brees consulted various team members including backup Chase Daniels to determine if they saw the same in potential NFL receiver and they did, The Saints signed Clark to a contract.
Clark said that “The closest he came to playing organized football again was a tryout for a couple United Football League teams, but that came to nothing as well. In between, he worked as a cashier at a casino in his native California and held some other jobs before a friend helped him get a job coaching at Westview High School.
You can bet there will be plenty fingers crossed should Marques Clark make the squad and go on to bigger and better things. If anyone is crossing fingers, it would be Drew Brees, who certainly would have a great hand in the life and career of talent in oblivion.
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Saturday, July 28, 2012
What prompted you to bring in the snoballs?
“I never intended that. It was funny because a few days before camp, it was a hot New Orleans summer day and we were at Audubon park just playing on the swings there and thought to get the boys some snoballs at Plum Street. We drove on over and at the time their catering truck was headed out to go somewhere. I asked if they would come out to training camp and take care of the fans and they said absolutely. Especially the first weekend, when a lot of fans couldn’t be here and watch us practice, it got rained out the first two practices. I just wanted to do something special for them, just cool them off on a hot summer day while they watch their boys play football.”
Was it good to get the pads back on today?
“Yes. We have been chomping at the bit to get back on the field. We had a couple of days of pretty extensive walkthroughs, a lot of meeting time, just installing a lot of the offense and defense. Defensively, it is a new scheme. There is a lot to get through. Offensively, a lot of the same guys are here. Some new guys are being brought up to speed. It is camp, it is that mindset. We are here to work, we are here to get better, we are here to prepare ourselves for, hopefully, a great season. We see the opportunity in front of us and this is the first step.”
Does this still feel like install to you?
“The offensive system is one that we are all very familiar with. It is the same one we have been running for the past six years here. Every camp, for me especially because I wasn’t here for OTAs and minicamp, it is just getting in the huddle, calling the play, getting up to the line, seeing the defense, making the proper checks and whatnot. And throwing the pads back on as well, that is always an adjustment. It has been six months since any of us had pads on our shoulders. To get the feel of that again, it is always a slight adjustment. This is what we do. We try to get back in it pretty quick.”
How does it feel to not have Sean Payton here in camp?
“It is different, definitely. I have said this before and I probably will be saying it every time I get asked that question, there are things that he taught me and us that resonate with us every time we step on the field. Regardless of if he is physically present or not, we feel his presence. I hear his voice in my head. I know the things that he has taught me personally. I try to apply that every day. That has become the fabric of who we are as a team. That is the way we operate. While it is not the same as having him here in person and his presence and him knowing exactly what to say at that moment, we still try to apply everything that he taught us.”
What are your thoughts on Jabari Greer’s interception today?
“I know this, that made me angry. The very next play, Pete called the play and I said, ‘Can I call this instead because I want to throw one over the top of Jabari?’ He got depth so we weren’t able to get past him but I was looking to make him pay the very next time.”
How is it different reading a completely new defense at the line in camp?
“Personnel is largely the same. Patrick Robinson, Jabari Greer, the safeties with (Roman) Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, different linebackers except for (Scott) Shanle. You know the personnel but you don’t know the scheme yet. You try to watch and see how they are being coached and the coverage schemes and the pressure schemes. You just try to recognize those things and pick on every little thing that you can. We are only in day three here but it is the first time with pads on. That is when things change. Now, it becomes a much more physical element. It is live bullets so to speak and you try to treat it as such. Things happen faster because guys are flying around. Every day and camp is a cat and mouse game, it is a chess match. We are here to compete against each other. In the end, we are trying to make each other better. Every time I step on the field, I want to beat our defense. They want to beat the offense. In the process, we know that we are making each other better.”
What do you expect from Mark Ingram this year?
“I expect great things. He impressed me last year, coming in as a rookie. As physical a back as he is, he is not as big as you would think. When you watch him play, he plays much bigger. He had the injury last year that sidelined him at the end of the season but I look forward to having him healthy and seeing what that second year can bring for him in regards to opportunities. Every time you get past your rookie season, it is kind of like your introduction to the NFL. Now, the chance to take it to the next level and find your role on this team where you can fit in. He is a guy who can do everything. He is not just a down-hill power back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is very smart. He is great in protection, picking up linebackers and rushers. He is smart and can make adjustments on the run. I love his attitude. He comes out with a positive attitude every day. He is fun to be around.”
Will you comment on the growth of Jimmy Graham and his growth this offseason?
“It is still early. The guy is so hungry and so competitive all the time. He never lets up. We demand a lot out of him. He runs a lot. He is in there a lot of plays. He is in about every personnel group because he is so dynamic. He can do so many different things. There was a play out here that would have been a challenging catch for most, I think in his mind it is routine for him. He missed it and he hasn’t stopped talking about it for the last 45 minutes. Just saying ‘I can’t believe I missed it. Come back to me again and I’ll make that play. You know I am going to make that play.’ I know. I know. I am going to come back to you. In his mind, he has such a high expectation level for himself. He set the bar so high for himself. That is what you love about a guy is that you are not having to push him or motivate him, he is self-motivated and self-inspired. You love to see that in a young player, especially after the season that he had.”
Jabari Greer had a nice today, picking off a couple of passes.
“He sure did. I think Jabari has really showed us the past couple of years his man coverage skills. I think what you can really see now is what he can do in zone coverage. I think he’s got real good vision and you know his quick twitch. He’s got deep speed. That was encouraging to see.”
The defensive line had a nice practice today.
“Yeah I think they did. You have two really good lines going up against each other every day. I think they both take a lot of pride, and it was fun to watch.”
Mark Ingram looked good today. I know you’re taking it slow but it was progress.
“It’s a process, you know. I kind of said yesterday that we have five preseason games, so this is not going to be built in one day. This is going to be a marathon, so to bring him along the right way for the long haul is going to be important for us.”
Can you talk a little bit about Scott Shanle? He’s been in the league for ten years. What has made him really stick with this team?
“He’s a guy that over the course of his career has really taken good care of himself. Every year as a coach, you look and say, ‘Is there going to be a diminishing skill level?’ And you still haven’t seen it yet. He still has a quick twitch, he’s got some long speed and he’s got good use of his hands. The reason for his playing so long is his knowledge of how to play the game. You take a guy who has played this long and studied the game, along with his athletic skill set, that’s why he’s still playing.”
Is it unusual for a guy like Shanle to play at such a high level for so long?
“Maybe in this era of football because of the game and how much more quicker and violent it is. Back in the old days Jack Camp, Jack Lambert and guys like that did play that long. But I think it’s a little different now and he’s pretty unique.”
Is the plan still to get Akiem Hicks some work tomorrow?
“We can’t get him to work tomorrow; we can get him on the field and start working him. He has to go non-padded for the first three days according to the new CBA agreement, so that’s the plan right now.”
How is David Thomas’s injury coming along?
“Good. Much better today. He went through the stretching and we are going to try and bring him along the right way. He’s about where we thought he’d be.”
What do you see this training camp being like for Curtis Lofton coming in from another team and assuming a big responsibility?
“This is a similar system to what he had in Atlanta. (It is) a lot of zone pressures, multiple coverages. What Curtis is really learning now is the new terminology and getting in and out of checks, but that’s why we practice. So far he has handled it great.”
Where is Ben Grubbs at so far, playing-wise?
“This is our first day of pads on the offensive and defensive linemen so I don’t think that’s a fair assessment right now. Based on what he’s done and based on his outstanding off-season and his commitment to this point (one day, one practice), he’s where we thought he’d be.”
Can you talk a little bit about Martez Wilson?
“Martez continues to really grow in the system. You guys have seen it with dropping defensive ends into coverage and things like that. We drafted him here as a linebacker so he’s got a skill set to cover.”
What about Martez Wilson’s pass-rushing? It seems like he was holding his own against the offensive linemen.
“He’s doing OK. We have the big boy pads on, and this is a process. So lets see how we can get better tomorrow.”
by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff