WHITESULPHURSPRINGS, W. Va. -- Cam Jordan is bitter after last season's playoff loss to Seattle. But that, he says, isn't what drives him.
No, what drives the Saints defensive lineman is his selfless desire to be the best.
'I just don't want to get better for myself, I want to get better for my teammates,' he said.
Jordan insists, despite his career year that included 12.5 sacks and his first trip to the Pro-Bowl, he's not the face of the Saints defensive line yet. First, he says he needs another season like his last.
'It's one thing to have a good year like I did last year, but it has to be better this year,' he said.
'Everything that I do has to be better. Everything the team does has to be better because clearly it wasn't good enough to get to the Super Bowl, and that's what our goal is.'
Mediocrity doesn't sit well with Jordan. In fact, he detests it, and it's why at Thursday's practice he felt a responsibility to 'set the tone early on.'
'It has to start with us,' he said. 'It's one thing for a coach to say we have to be nasty, but it's another thing for the players to come in and say, 'We're going to set the tone today.''
And boy did they ever.
What began with a 'rowdy' defensive line, quickly spread, transforming the team's demeanor and heightening its intensity and physicality to levels not seen thus far.
Akiem Hicks got things started by hopping up and down, screaming and waiving his arms in an attempt to fire up the contingent of Who Dats in the stands.
Then, Jordan and rookie tackle Tavon Rooks got into a brief skirmish during blocking drills.
And finally, the piece de resistance, fisticuffs between Curtis Loftin and Khiry Robinson that ended after the two players wrestled to the ground and quarterback Drew Brees said, enough.
'It was just one of those days that (the players) should have had their mind right and if they didn't have their mind right then they got their mind right,' Jordan said. 'I think that's what it has to be every day. We have to bring that type of intensity to work every day.
'Some days you work on different aspects of the game, but today was about being more physical than we have been.'
Head coach Sean Payton was pleased with the day's increased intensity and physicality, especially following an off day.
'We get X number of days with pads on,' he said, 'not as many as we used to and so it's important that we learn to play as best we can in a game mode and create the competition necessary each day, and that's something we can't be afraid of.'
Needless to say, Jordan isn't afraid. What he is, though, is passionate, both on the field, and off.
'That (passion) doesn't leave,' he said. 'The way I play football with kids and going to a Boys and Girls Club or an elementary school, you just bring that same passion anywhere you go.
'When I step onto the field, I have the same passion, now it's just targeted towards the offensive lineman because I can't touch Drew (Brees).'
But Jordan's passion shouldn't be misconstrued as nastiness. He says it isn't a necessity to play defense.
'I mean you call it nasty, I call it enjoying my work,' he said. 'I love what I do.'