Can you comment on the whole Reggie Bush situation?
“Obviously we had five great years here with Reggie. I think this whole offseason that this has been a big topic and I think in the end, obviously Reggie felt like maybe that the opportunity for him was elsewhere. Obviously this is an interesting time period here during this very quick free agency work where decisions had to be made very quickly on both sides. Obviously, this is something we all knew was coming, or there was a possibility of this coming, and obviously he is on his way elsewhere and we wish him the best and this doesn’t change our relationship at all.”
Can you talk about what he (Reggie) went through being in the league coming out being so hounded with the whole Heisman Trophy deal, how he handled it and what you saw from him?
“Still to this day I’m not sure if there is any other guy that has come into the league with more hype and expectation than Reggie Bush. That’s been a lot of pressure on a young kid who came in at twenty years old. Obviously, extremely athletic, but there’s a huge adjustment coming from college to this level, and I look at one of his best years as a professional back in ’06 when he first came in and he had a mentor, Deuce McAllister, a veteran guy who he looked up to and learned from. They were a 1-2 punch back then. With all the controversy with all the USC stuff, I don’t know if there is a guy who has been more under the microscope than Reggie. For a lot of reasons over the past five years, I think at times he handled it very well, and I think at other times it was very overwhelming. I know, we as his teammates, try to be supportive as possible. When I look at the five years with him, man, we had some great times. We had some great games, moments, and he will always be a part of what we accomplished here in his first five years, that Super Bowl victory a year ago. Maybe, I think, the expectations for a player like him, for him and the NFL and New Orleans was how you draft a guy second in the draft, he’s going to be here forever, but unfortunately in this league there is a lot of turnover and for whatever reason guys see opportunities elsewhere or their contract isn’t quite what you hoped for or expected and guys move on. That is just what you have to deal with at times.”
Are you excited to have
“Very excited about getting Lance. For me, I am very tight with our receiving corps, but especially Lance. When I first got here in ’06, Lance was on the practice squad. I have watched this guy grow and develop and become one of the better receivers in the league. And certainly the contributions he has made to our team here over the last few years, especially, have been remarkable. So I know what a big part of this offense he is and really just what a highly respected guy he is in the locker room. The road that he has traveled to get to where he is at, guys like that deserve the best, they deserve to get compensated, and they deserve good things to happen to them. I am glad to see that happen to him.”
Things are still up in the air as far as rosters, how is that going to affect tomorrow in practice?
“It doesn’t change my approach other than you might have some young guys in positions that they might not have ever been there before getting significant reps. Maybe you are missing a guy or two on the offensive line. I know we are going to be missing some guys in the secondary so as you look at it you have to understand that you don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle there yet, but this is…we are on the fast track to fifteen days out before our first preseason game. Obviously we understand that the main objective is to be ready to play our best football come September 8th when we have to travel to Green Bay. But between now and then I think it is a process of every day getting through all the install, getting the young guys reps that need them, that are eventually going to play significant roles on this team. Next week, once we get all the free agents in and everything else in, I think the competition really begins for a lot of guys at their position, but for now I think it’s about getting a lot of young guys up to speed and being able to get out there, work through the kinks but look sharp.”
Are you excited to see
“Obviously I love Bushrod, that entire offensive line. I think continuity is so important when you look at the offensive line as a unit. As I look around the league the offenses that are really at the top of the league are the ones that consistently, year and year out, they got that group up front that they stay together and take a lot of pride in what they do and Bushrod has been a big part of that here over the past few years. It’s great to have him back and he is a guy too that was drafted mid-rounds, has had to work his way into that starting role and he has absolutely made the most of it and, really plays big for us in some big moments over the last two seasons.”
You haven’t had a chance to be on the field with
“Well, obviously, Pierre, another guy who has traveled the long road to get to where he is at, but got his deal done before the lockout. I’m very happy to see a guy like him get taken care of and come back and is obviously going to be a huge part of what we do.
How does Lynell look?
“He has looked good through this entire offseason, he was one of the guys that jumped out to me as we were doing our workouts in May and June, just a guy who was in there every day. He has been in this offense for a while now, so most of it is second nature to him now. I think the more reps he gets the more comfortable he gets in that role and the better player he is.”
Reggie didn’t really excel in his traditional role as a running back, but he made a lot of match up problems with his versatility, how does that change the equation for your offense?
“It doesn’t stop anything that we do offensively but I can say that whenever Reggie was split out or motioning out of the backfield, I was always looking to see who was bumping out with him to cover him because obviously he did create a matchup problem with anyone that was covering him. That element was probably one of Reggie’s biggest strengths, but like I said, it still doesn’t stop our ability to be very diverse with our formations and our personnel groups. We are still going to operate the same way we operate.”
Talk about being proactive with the workouts at Tulane, Vilma said that he thinks it will put you above other teams in the league. Do you agree?
“I’d like to think so. I feel like we executed our plan exactly the way we wanted to and really from day one we had a plan to be there four weeks in May, take a week off and then two more weeks in June. We had phases for how we were going to phase ourselves into 7-on-7s, and installing the offense and defense respectively, and then having some competitive periods while at the same time being very conscience of keeping guys safe and making sure we weren’t putting guys in jeopardy in that regards. I think we got a lot of young guys ahead of the curve during that process so that walking into camp; it’s not that big of a shock to them when they get the playbook and it’s that thick and they haven’t had a chance to really look at it. I give Vilma a lot of credit for the job he did with that defense. I feel like it was good work for a lot of our young guys offensively. I hope it pays off but the only way it pays off is if we come out here during training camp and put ourselves in that competitive situation again and really try to get better.”
You talk about the ‘fast-track’, do you come into work early and leave later?
“Yeah. I mean I do that anyway. It’s not like I’m changing anything I do. We are all excited to be in camp. We are all excited to get that play book, to get into the meetings, to start talking football, to start studying again, and really get down to seeing who the contributors are to our offense and where everybody is going to fit in. Camp is still a process. Camp is still a grind, it’s still one day at a time. You are just trying to get a little better each day. You obviously work out those kinks throughout the preseason. We open up Thursday night, the first game of the NFL season at Green Bay, Super Bowl Champs, that’s the game we are focused on, the game that’s on the horizon and we have to be playing our best for.”
You were a part of the CBA talks, one of the Union Leaders, you took some backlash from some guys speaking out against you. Do you feel that now that the deal is done?
“I don’t think you are referring to other players, I think you are referring maybe to false media reports. The fact is, that was a contentious time for everyone. All we wanted was a fair deal and to get back on the field. That process itself, of four, five, six months of pretty intense negotiations. Obviously, both sides just trying to get something done that would enable us to put a deal in place that was fair to everybody and give us peace for a long time. So here we are, having agreed to a ten-year deal. I feel like there are great things for both sides and we are happy to get back on the field. We know the fans are excited about seeing their teams back in camp and knowing the season is uninterrupted and everything is going to go on as scheduled and teams are going to put their best players on the field and it’s going to be back to good old American football.