The Saints were flagged 28 times in their preseason win over the Tennessee Titans on Friday. While coach Sean Payton admonished the high number of penalties afterwards, in Brees' eyes, the responsibility of avoiding that many penalties falls on him and his teammates.
“Well, at the end of the day, at some point, the team takes control of itself,” Brees said. “The leaders take control of the team, and you are accountable to one another, you police one another. If things are going to change, it has to change from within. It’s not going to change because coach tells you that something needs to change."
The NFL has added an emphasis on calling defensive pass interference, which has been noticeable in preseason action thus far. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Sunday the league has been open to discussing the emphasis in the wake of what Carroll views as too many penalties being called.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro also said it's on the players to adjust.
"It’s kind of a shock for the defense, especially if you’re aggressive and you like to press,” Vaccaro said. “But you’ve gotta play by the rules.”
Brees returned to practice Sunday as a full participant for the first time since Aug. 1 after dealing with a left oblique strain. He hasn't played in New Orleans' first two preseason games.
The Saints open their season Sept. 7 at the Atlanta Falcons.
- Ben Estes